Since taking up her post a few months ago, Britain's new International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, has been talking up how she's going to crackdown on waste and fraud in the way her budget is spent. In her first speech to a Tory party conference as Secretary of State at the weekend, she continued in this vein, promising to "follow the money" to root out waste and corruption. A laudable ambition which no one can argue with. But what constitutes "waste" seems to depend quite a bit on your overall view of aid.
At Malaria No More UK, we know the importance of sustaining this momentum. We will continue to inspire the public, protect those most at risk and build partnerships with people and organisations who share our vision of a malaria-free world. And to borrow a hashtag from the Global Fund's inspiring replenishment campaign, this time lets stay united to #EndItForGood.
Humility is required, but Britain's generous approach to international aid can be a pillar underpinning whatever new course the UK ends up taking in the world. It wasn't pressure from the EU that led the UK to achieve the 0.7% target - that was home-grown. So, leaving the EU doesn't have to mean a bleak future for Britain's international aid.
When MPs debate the UK's aid target today, I hope we are presented with a full picture of the pros and cons of aid spending. I'm proud that Britain hasn't turned its back on the world's poorest - the fact that the rest of the world has not yet followed suit is a reason to carry on, not retrace our steps. We can and must continue to do better, but there should be no doubt that British aid is transforming the lives of millions of the most vulnerable people on the planet.
Ending the UK's commitment to spend just 7p out of every £10 of our national wealth on international aid is not the answer. This will send the wrong signal to both the countries we are asking to commit to the same spending, and importantly to the hundreds of millions of the world's poorest who we are supporting to lift out of poverty once and for all.
Unless we want to find ourselves in 2030 having failed to fulfil our commitments, writing another set of Global Goals, mourning the loss of a great opportunity for change, we must take the role of youth seriously. Young people have a passion for change that gives them the drive to shape the world they live in. In the mission to end poverty and deliver on the Global Goals, what better allies to have?
Throughout history, girls and women have often been invisible outside the home. Even now, in 2016, there are countries where women are prevented from getting a job, from owning their own land and even from setting up a bank account. This strips them of their independence. For every aspect of their lives, these women are completely reliant on someone else. It's time to break these chains of dependency. Now we have the chance. Today, the UN Secretary General announced he is establishing an expert team of leading politicians, expert economists, charity heads and business leaders to jumpstart a global movement on women's economic empowerment. I'm privileged to be joining this High Level Panel, alongside the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim and many eminent names who will be announced over the next few weeks.
Prime Minister Questions last week saw Conservative MP Philip Davies argue (sadly echoing the comments of an MP from our own benches over the Christmas break) that money should be taken from the international development budget to pay for the much needed extra resources to deal with the consequences of the recent flooding. This is a false choice - however, it is not the only threat to Britain's international development budget.
In a world of increased polarisation between cultures, anything that lowers barriers is important. I joined VSO as chief executive in March of this year and in that time I have seen enough to convince me that there has never been a more important time to encourage people to volunteer internationally.
When Cynthia invited me to help prepare lunch at her home in the rural village of Dwabor in Ghana I was so excited. Winning Celebrity MasterChef has really ignited my passion for food and I didn't expect to find such yummy cuisine in Ghana, like Cynthia's groundnut soup. It was also a great opportunity to speak to this incredible woman, mum to mum, about the huge dreams she has for her triplets Eric, Erica and Isobella. Money raised by UK schools and the public and matched by the UK government is improving education across Africa, giving children like the triplets a brighter future and the tools they need to escape poverty for good.
At the most basic and essential level, aid is and will remain a vital source of funding for many countries who cannot yet raise enough tax to pay for much-needed social services and goods including things like education and healthcare but also in the longer term helping to build the capacity to raise and more effectively use those resources. UK aid contributes to building a fairer world where more people live free from poverty, fewer die from preventable causes like malnutrition or childbirth and there are more opportunities for all.
One of the things I love about my job is that I get to be optimistic every day. That's because I, and my colleagues working in international development, look at the problems of the world that are rooted in poverty and inequality, and refuse to accept that the world is not smart enough or rich enough to defeat them.