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to wonder why we give money in overseas aid instead of sorting out the UK first?

(96 Posts)

I'm not trying to be goady, this is a genuine question. I'm sure there are good arguments and good reasons why we give overseas aid (the two most obvious being philanthropy and social responsibility). But it seems short-sighted when we have such a huge deficit and there are so many people in the UK being driven into poverty.

I'm sure I'm being unreasonable, but can someone explain (gently please!) why?

lastnightidreamt Sat 16-Mar-13 21:28:16

I suppose, on a small scale, it's similar to us as individuals.

Most of us pop £1 in a charity box, some have a direct debit, some donate to sponsored events - all of that money could be used to pay off our mortgage, buy clothes/food for our children, but we make that choice.

(As well as other posters' far more intelligent reasons!)

ShellyBoobs Sat 16-Mar-13 21:28:21

I'm obviously only going to pick certain bits out of the article...

Unfortunately an article written by a confirmed wanker, no less.

You could at least have trotted out some shite from the DM instead of from a column by that bigoted, sexist moron. hmm

WafflyVersatile Sat 16-Mar-13 21:28:45

also echo that much western 'aid' to other countries is not aiding them at all but actually hindering them.

HeySoulSister Sat 16-Mar-13 21:31:26

Lol at heating homes being one of your 'sorting out' issues!!!

HollyBerryBush it is true that aid has been an issue in the majority world. However, there is aid and aid. Handing over vast quantities of money to corrupt governments is one thing. Training people in country to do something like midwifery or hydrology is quite another. 'Teach a man to fish' and all that. There are some great programs in Africa and some shitty ones. Actually, it is a good idea to question NGOs and governments about where the money goes. Just throwing our hands up and giving up is quite another.

FWIW, we took, and still take (debt repayments), a massive amount of money from India, Kenya and so on. It behooves us to look at what we can do to help people who were treated as less than animals during the colonial era.

There are some wonderful charities and NGOs doing great work. Yes, try to find ones that work locally, employ locals. Don't send clothes, food and money in an emotional state to famine stricken regions, it doesn't work. Support things like programs that educate women, health care for girls and women and training. These help the generations to some. Prosthetics for people with disabilities so they can work, anything that helps women with aftercare for childbirth. Pick charities that work grass roots and use local expertise. Small charities with specific goals are good. What about Kiva for small businesses?

TheSecondComing Sat 16-Mar-13 21:36:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LynetteScavo Sat 16-Mar-13 21:36:24

I was thinking the same as lastnightidreamt.

HollyBerryBush Sat 16-Mar-13 21:39:23

Everything in that article will be a matter of public record and freedom of information; you may not like the journo (The Express isn't my usual reading material and I did say first time I posted it that it was the top article on google) I've read better - but it does make salient points that we give aid to rich countries. Why? they can afford to fund their own poverty programmes.

The distinction is giving to the government and not to ground working charities.

TheSeniorWrangler Sat 16-Mar-13 21:41:30

i do not object to the money raised by CR going to where its needed.. i do object to the governments promise to 'match' the donation to whatever it was.

Sorry, we are in need of Womens Shelters, adequate care for the elderly and the disabled. We have need for more facilities for the homeless, the destitute. There are elderly people freezing to death. They are withdrawing funding from projects to keep children out of crime, raising council tax, denying disabled people benefits.

Fuck matching the africa donation, match the donations going to the UK projects!

I would much rather 16 million quid was pumped into new equipment for schools, old folks homes and the NHS than go abroad.

It benefits lots of people to keep the debt crisis going. The rich in these countries benefit form the debt (they spend the money). At one point the personal debt of Mobutu was estimated to be almost exactly the same as Zaire's national debt. I wonder why? He had chateaux in Switzerland and his currency was being used as toilet paper.

The banks benefit as they want to milk the cow (interest) rather than eat the steaks (repayment).

Western governments win because they can manipulate the situation. They offer with one hand and take away with the other. The World Bank and IMF can mess with the economies. So, tell them to cut education and healthcare and introduce cash crops but you can't mess with national security so don't tell them to cut funding for the military. Which is trained and supplied by us...

If they try to default they are told... really it happened... "have you any idea what would happen to a country that couldn't get insulin for it's diabetics?" So, they were threatened with death for some of the population if they couldn't pay their debt. Nice.

SoulSister is the fact that I can't afford to heat my home funny to you? That when it snowed my children had to go to bed fully clothed with piles of blankets in order to stay warm? You have a strange sense of humour. hmm

There was, TSC but I haven't heard anything about it in a long time. It was a great idea.

No Waffly I was under the impression that the government have allegedly made those cuts because they news money to reduce the deficit. Therefore I wondered why they still felt it appropriate to give away money in aid - it would be like me complaining that I can't heat my home but I give £50 a month to charity (I don't, obviously). However some lovely posters in this thread have explained it and I'm grateful to them. I don't like your use of the phrase 'frightful foreign people' though, it makes you sound most unpleasant.

FeistyLass Sat 16-Mar-13 21:46:15

We have a moral responsibility as many of the problems were caused by colonisation. Plus even people living in the most deprived areas of the UK are still a million times better off than people living in poverty in Africa and India where there are areas with no running water, no sewerage system, no electricity, no right to schooling or health.Also, a lot of the continuing problems overseas are prompted by Western involvement.

The DRC is a beautiful country and rich in resources. Coltan from the DRC is found in many mobile phones but it's not the local population who benefit from that wealth, it's international companies. So there is still a cycle of exploiting with one hand and giving with the other.

The UK has never met its 0.7% commitment on aid spending. It's a tiny fraction but each successive government has come up with reasons not to keep their word.

Aid shouldn't be linked with big business and pushing a politicial doctrine as that politicising of aid has put many aid workers' lives at risk.

The best aid is about putting processes in place to allow countries to build their own infrastructure and work their way out of poverty. And, on the ground, lots of NGOs are achieveing that. I've visited projects across Africa where families are working their way out of poverty because of donations from the UK. The original donations are used to establish small businesses (eg growing veg) and then local people buy and sell the veg, pay back the initial funding and become self-sufficient.

The problem lies when big businesses subvert aid agendas for their own ends. There's a brilliant book called The Economic Hitman which explains exactly how the USA used (and continues to use) aid to create a culture of endebtedness. In its view if the countries were working their way out of poverty then their agenda wouldn't be working. They use aid to create economic bonds, exert undue influence and push their own political agenda.

An African continent that was controlling its own resources, building its own infrastructure and setting its own political agenda would be brilliant imo but I think certain Western leaders would see it as a threat.

Sorry I went on for so long blush climbs off soapbox

Oh and this is nothing to do with Comic Relief btw, I was wondering this after the 'there are no poor children in the UK' thread earlier.

TheFallenNinja Sat 16-Mar-13 21:48:25

If you pump money to needy countries the theory goes is that they will stay there.

Sorry, we are in need of Womens Shelters, adequate care for the elderly and the disabled. We have need for more facilities for the homeless, the destitute. There are elderly people freezing to death. They are withdrawing funding from projects to keep children out of crime, raising council tax, denying disabled people benefits.

Thank you SeniorWrangler, you've put itmuxh better than I seem to be.

Wonderful post Feisty, thank you.

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 21:59:07

Not read the thread but I am sure this has turned into a complete bunfight, now I will read thread

FeistyLass Sat 16-Mar-13 22:00:30

Can I just add that I think meeting aid commitments overseas and helping the less fortunate in the UK are actually both sides of the same coin? Governments that ignore the deprivation in the UK also tend to ignore the devastation overseas.
It's almost a 'divide and conquer' policy of pitting those who rely on the government off against each other.
imo it shouldn't ever be that call. We shouldn't have elderly people living in cold houses, we shouldn't be shutting women's refuges, etc, and we shouldn't be ignoring our aid commitments. We have enough money to do both.

backs away from the thread

drivingmisspotty Sat 16-Mar-13 22:02:51

Well, the way I look at it is that someone who lives far away and is in need is just as deserving of help as someone here. And in such a globalised society, saying 'charity begins at home' doesn't really make sense, the whole world is home. The food we eat and clothes we wear have passed through many different hands on the way to us.

Of course you could argue that middle income countries like india and brazil should look after 'their own' poor and not benefit from our taxes but good aid should and does empower poor people to work for more just systems in their own countries. For instance, one of the millennium development goals is focused specifically on women and girls, knowing that if they are educated much can follow.

I know our government don't give for completely altruistic reasons but they do allso have a mandate from people like me who have pestered them for years to increase aid, cancel debt and trade more fairly.

Also, we still spend plenty more on other areas of our budgwt than on aid. Aid is about £10bn whereas the NHS is over £100bn

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 22:03:09

LadyWidmerpool Sat 16-Mar-13 14:08:21 You are aware that children are starving, right?

Basically these are not our children and we were happier as a nation before we knew these things. That's how it was, and TBH I think it was a happier existence for us. People have dies all over the world and the rest of the globe has not blinked, why should we?

harverina Sat 16-Mar-13 22:04:18

Joyful I don't think that anyone would laugh at your difficulties heating your home. That's a really horrible situation for you and your dc's to be in hmm

However, I disagree that poverty is relative in the way that you say. Many people do not have a home to heat, the may not have anything to cover them on cold winter nights and a cold house in the uk would seem like a palace to them.

I do understand what you mean when you ask why send money to other countries when our own services are suffering etc but ultimately the poorest person in the uk will be so much more better off than many people in the world.

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 22:04:54

Globalised society only makes sense if we have the economic wherewithall to travel from place A to B, I think that will be changing quite soon.

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 22:06:31

harverina, humans are utilitarian by nature, why do you think helping some one in Africa is a good thing when you could help someone down the road who needs it?

Because there's a massive difference between your child not having new trainers and your child dying from a preventable disease.

Can I just add that I think meeting aid commitments overseas and helping the less fortunate in the UK are actually both sides of the same coin? Governments that ignore the deprivation in the UK also tend to ignore the devastation overseas

Another excellent point Feisty, please don't go!

I started this thread because I genuinely wanted to learn - I wasn't saying that we shouldn't give aid, but I couldn't think of a better way to ask the question. Several posters have been far more eloquent!

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