THE BLOG

The Invaluable Work Done By DfID Should Be Championed, Not Chastised

07/02/2017 08:41 GMT | Updated 07/02/2017 08:42 GMT
PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images

There are a growing number of people who would quite happily see The Department for International Development consigned to the political scrapheap. Presumably, those people are more than content with consigning into that same scrapheap the millions of impoverished human beings all over the world who rely on DfID to maintain a semblance of an existence.

It is important to contextualise the work done by DfID as the media and the Government seek to undermine it. Recent stories in the weekend papers have launched unjust attacks on the foreign aid budget and the DfID department itself. We must remember that preventing countries from becoming failed states helps keep Britain safer, and potentially saves this country money in the long run.

The strident calls for the £12billion foreign aid budget to be cut completely and spent on looking after 'those closer to home' sends out a negative message. Britain's international development budget makes Britain taller on the world stage, and costs us just 7p out of every £10 of Government expenditure.

One of a Labour government's proudest achievements was creating DfID as a stand-alone government department in 1997. DfID is now the driving force behind the UK's work to end extreme poverty around the world. The overarching objective is to help build a world that is healthier, more prosperous, and safer for those who live in developing nations as well as those in the UK.

I am incredibly proud of DfID's track record on combating some of the most pressing issues around the world including disease, poverty, inequality, mass migration and conflict. DfID and its 2,700 officials work tirelessly in their efforts to distribute development assistance to the most deprived and impoverished nations on the planet. By tackling these problems at their source, British aid helps address conflict, instability, radicalisation and mass migration.

Whether it is NHS nurses working on Ebola or teachers trained in the UK helping young girls progress through school in a village in Africa, Britain should be proud of the millions of lives it saves through helping to tackle poverty, disease and lack of opportunities. Labour made the UK a world leader in global development, and that legacy should be carried through into the future.

I will be speaking at the LSE Local Economic Development Forum on 18th February to address how the Government and DfID should be responding to rapid changes in the world order, so as to best manage inequality, social and economic marginalisation, welfare needs and emerging economic opportunities.

This Government's DfID strategy seeks to inextricably tie international development with trade and wealth creation. The Conservative Party are increasingly directing traffic to the private sector through organisations such as the CDC, threatening the transparency of development assistance through its use of offshore tax havens, among other criticisms.

The choice between supporting economic growth and providing aid is not a binary one. I welcome any policy that aims to boost economic growth, but for the developing nations that are besieged by environmental problems, corruption and conflict, the immediate aim should be on providing the development assistance that is so desperately needed.

A Labour-run DfID would seek to offer a hybrid approach that focuses on economic, environmental and social development, without ever losing sight of what DfID was created to achieve. I will continue to champion the invaluable work DfID does and ensure the UK does not wane on its foreign aid commitments.

Kate Osamor is the Labour MP for Edmonton and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development