National governments are by far the world’s biggest donors of Official Development Assistance, responsible for between 80 and 85% of the world’s development aid. Therefore in negotiating and approving ODA budgets Members of Parliament all play a vital role in improving the lives of the citizens of the world’s poorest countries. And if they do not act to protect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens then no-one else will.
It is therefore the duty or MPs to maximize the amount of ODA their government will pledge to the developing world, and to ensure that an adequate proportion of these funds are devoted to protecting the health and wellbeing of their citizens. MPs have the power to improve (and save) the lives of millions of the developing world’s people.
Official Development Assistance (ODA) is defined as flows of official financing administered to developing countries with the primary aim of assisting the economic development and welfare of developing countries. ODA consists of the contributions of donor government agencies, and is granted with the intention of assisting development in the selected sectors of recipient countries, including health and social wellbeing, economic aid production, debt relief and humanitarian aid among others.
The concept of development aid was born in the colonial era, when European countries established strong links with their colonies, and invested funds in improving their economic and social infrastructure, helping them in times of crisis (such as the Bengal famine in 1877) and in increasing their own presence on the ground. However, modern development aid’s roots were born in the context of Post-World War II, when the United States launched the European Recovery Program in 1948. Since then seminal events that have united the developed world’s attention on its responsibility to save and improve lives in the developing world have included the Biafran War in 1968, the fate of the Vietnamese Boat People in the late 1970s and the Ethiopian Famine in 1985.
ODA is rarely granted for purely philanthropic reasons, as the donor will be looking to protect its own larger interests in the funds it pledges. This could be protecting its borders and social harmony if it is helping its neighbours, or furthering its economic interests if it offering preferential access for the recipients of aid to its nationally produced products. Furthermore some ODA takes the form of loans, so the donor country can view it more as an investment than as an expense.
The tendencies in international development are continually evolving, and the guiding philosophies governing donors at present are the desire to achieve inclusive growth (the notion that the development that is fostered by the aid that is pledged should not only reflect itself in economic terms, but also in social terms), as well as ensuring that the aid that they pledge is cost-effective. Governments, like businesses, increasingly want to see the concrete results that they achieve with their funds.
- Euromapping was presented in the Parliaments of the following countries: Belgium, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom