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NGOs warn UK aid to Africa is not enough to tackle humanitarian crisis

This news post is about 1 year old

UK aid buget cuts will have a devastating effect

Aid groups have criticised cash support for east Africa for falling well short of the amount needed.

UK minister for development and Africa Andrew Mitchell announced £143m in humanitarian aid to east Africa at the UN Horn of Africa pledging conference.

However, this falls short of previous support for the region when in 2020 Ethiopia received £254 million in UK aid.

Cuts of 6%, £28 million, were announced by the UK government in its aid budget to East and Central Africa last month, even though about 21 million people there are in need of food aid.

Mitchell, who rejoined the government last year, is a critic of the merger of the former Department for International Development and the Foreign Office.

He warned in December that he was having to make drastic cuts in the aid budget, owing to the cost of hosting refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere.

Stephanie Draper, chief executive at Bond, the UK network for NGOs, said: “It is welcome that the UK has pledged humanitarian aid to east Africa as the region is increasingly gripped by drought, conflict, food insecurity and the impacts of climate change.  

“However, the pledges fall short of the UK's previous commitments to the region - £143 million is only 15% of the funds allocated in 2020 to the same set of countries. This is exacerbated by the succession of UK aid cuts and other spending decisions, falling incredibly short of what is needed.   

“The government’s own figures show that more UK aid is currently being spent in the UK to reimburse other departments for refugee support costs than on development and humanitarian assistance in all of Africa. While it is right we support refugees, this shouldn’t be at the expense of those facing extreme poverty and famine. 

“The government must urgently stop undermining the purpose of UK aid and prioritise long-term solutions to help countries tackle poverty, prevent conflict and adapt to climate change, starting by returning to spending 0.7% of GNI on UK aid.” 

Action Against Hunger UK’s head of advocacy, Kate Munro, said the cash commitment did not meet the scale of need.

"In 2017, the UK contributed over £800m to prevent famine in parts of East Africa - today they have pledged a fraction of this. Over the last several years, we have seen the UK Government’s ambition to prevent the worst impacts of famine dwindle," she said.  

"While we welcome any new funding that will support people in East Africa facing conflict, drought and a critical lack of food, this commitment does not meet the scale of the need. Successive and steep cuts to this region are contributing tragically to an avoidable loss of life."

The cash amounts dispensed are:

£42 million for Ethiopia

£5.8 million for Kenya

£48 million for Somalia

£18.9 million for South Sudan

£21.7 million for Sudan

£7 million for Uganda

Across the Horn of Africa around 43 million people require humanitarian aid due to the effects of conflict and climate change.

The region has also experienced a drought of an unprecedented nature following five seasons of failed rains, with livelihood systems collapsing, millions displaced and hundreds of thousands of children forced to drop out of school.

Andrew Mitchell said: “The Horn of Africa faces one of the most devastating humanitarian crises in the world. The catastrophic drought over the last 2 years has brought unimaginable suffering and millions cannot access adequate water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

“As we’ve sadly seen in Sudan, conflict across East Africa is tearing apart communities, with women and girls bearing the brunt of the violence.

“Our funding could not come at a more critical moment, and it is clear that we must act now, and do all we can to save lives.”