Over 40 years ago a promise was made by politicians to commit to investing 0.7% of our national income in UK aid, unfortunately politicians don't have the best reputation for fulfilling their promise. Last year, I was part of the UK wide coalition of NGOs who campaigned tirelessly to ensure 0.7% was protected and after a few hundred 'George Osborne' lookalikes paraded out on Parliament Square (it was a slightly scary sight I assure you!) to warn George Osborne that we must keep our promise to the world's most poorest and deprived - we succeeded in maintaining that pledge. I also remember vividly that historic day in Hyde Park last June during the G8 Summit when 45,000 public supporters turned up to show that they care about ensuring those living below the poverty line are not failed by world leaders.
With a strong public voice and messages of support, it's only a matter of time before politicians realise they must keep their word to this pledge made. There are many sceptics out there who tell you that aid is ineffective and that such financial assistance doesn't in effect lift people out of poverty, but I would argue that aid is only one part of the solution to the bigger picture on aid effectiveness. Britain's commitment to international aid has had an incredible impact on the lives of women, children and some of the world's most deprived who bear the burden of poverty on their shoulders. British aid support for immunisation saves a child's life every two minutes, and the best thing is we can now vaccinate a child against some killer diseases for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Since 2011, British aid has provided 43.1 million people with access to clean water, better sanitation or improved hygiene conditions and in the years 2011/12 and 2013/14 British aid helped 10.2 million children to go to school - that's the kind of positive difference campaigners and activists protecting 0.7% have been able to make.
This commitment made by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties in their manifestos 4 years ago was promised to be enshrined in law. Now we have a duty to ensure they turn up just like we did last year to save lives of those who are most in need of aid to live a better life. In a bid to urge the parties to keep their promise and honour that commitment, leading NGOs are calling on politicians to ensure that on 12th September at least 100 MPs show up whilst the International Aid Bill is being read as tabled by Michael Moore MP. If you are someone who cares about ensuring young children have a better chance at life, an opportunity to prosper, an chance to live a life of dignity where basic human needs are met, then you should call on your MP and make sure he or she turns up to support the bill so we stand a strong chance of making this promise a reality.
If the Bill passes the second stage of reading, with existing cross party support - it can be ingrained in UK law. Our politicians have a chance to prove our real commitment as a nation to the world's poorest people. The UK prides itself on being a leader in international development and it only seems right then that our MPs demonstrate this leadership by ensuring the UK keeps its promise to spend just 0.7% of its national income on aid. In honouring this promise, they will in effect be honouring that promise they made over 40 years ago to millions of desperate lives around the world. All we are asking for is that you urge your MP to be there on 12th September if they care about saving lives and make sure they turn up to save lives.
Here are just some of the ways you can ensure they turn up to save lives:
1. Commit to support the campaign and learn more about it here: http://www.turnupsavelives.org.uk
2. Email or write a letter to your MP asking them to #TurnUpSaveLives on 12th September
3. Visit your MP sharing your concerns about 0.7% being enshrined into UK law, using this MP briefing sheet here to help you
4. Tweet your MP to ask if they will publically commit to #TurnUpSaveLives by attending on 12th September
5. Spread this article on your social networks, get friends, family and everyone who cares about aid to do all the above!
Please join me in this call to ensure our leaders step up to the mark and fulfil their promise, it's time politicians keep their promise to 0.7% by enshrining it UK law - a moment that we can hopefully look back on someday and celebrate as a nation for years to come.