Britain's Foreign Aid Cuts
Britain’s budget for direct humanitarian aid, which stood at more than £1.5 billion in 2020, reduced to £744 million in 2021, with official developmental assistance funds from the country down 21% overall. This major budgetary shift, in the form of Britain’s foreign aid cuts, could have long-term devastations on impoverished communities across the world that are trying to recover from the pandemic, extreme weather conditions, and now, the consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Potential Impact

The United Nations (U.N.) stated on April 13, 2022, that the war in Ukraine could potentially push 1.7 billion people into circumstances of poverty and food insecurity. The slashing of the British budget makes these circumstances only direr as the equivalent of more than one-fifth of the world faces the risk of poverty. Cuts to countries such as Ethiopia (from £241 million to £108 million), Kenya (£67 million to £41 million) and Somalia (£121 million to £71 million) raise concerns for African nations and their respective fights against poverty.

Head of government relations at Oxfam, Sam Nadel, noted that these cuts are occurring amid an array of global challenges, such as war, the pandemic and famine in Africa, which ultimately hinders the ability to adequately address these issues and fight off future devastations.

The Impact of the Ukrainian Crisis

Countries like the United States and Britain are putting the remainder of their foreign affairs budgets toward addressing the crisis in Ukraine. In May 2022, British ministers announced an allocation of £220 million worth of humanitarian aid to Ukraine amid the war, meaning, in the broader budget, the remainder of foreign aid for other nations is smaller than before.

The United States Congress approved on May 19, 2022, an aid allocation of $40 billion for Ukraine, which the United States will distribute through traditional means of aid.  This is an all-encompassing budget that includes economic support ($9.4 billion), weapons ($12.5 billion), food assistance ($7 billion) and more. This amount of aid surpasses the amount given to any other individual country in the past decade by the United States and serves as a major shift in the focus of aid distribution. Though U.S. foreign aid only makes up about 1% of the 2022 federal budget, this aid package, so far, exceeds the contributions of all other nations.

Public Opinion

Public opinion plays a significant role in the future of foreign aid priorities. One major way that foreign aid can still make it to impoverished nations is through public outreach. By having citizens call their congressional leaders in support of protecting foreign aid and poverty-focused policy, the risk of aid cuts greatly diminishes.

If the public perception of foreign aid goes against putting more dollars into the foreign assistance budget, then the chances of congressmen being able to pass more federal spending become lower. In the current landscape of federal spending, 73% of U.S. citizens believe that foreign aid to Ukraine is either at the right amount or too little, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in April 2022. In addition, U.S. citizens are wary about using direct military action against Russia with 72% against the use of force. U.S. citizens are well aware of the crisis in Ukraine and are keen on vocalizing their support for certain measures.

The Future of Foreign Aid

Britain’s foreign aid cuts come at a time when the world requires significant assistance. Now more than ever, countries must prioritize foreign aid to nations in crisis. Through public outreach, increased foreign aid allocations and more vocal support, aid to nations in crisis can continue. Through the collective efforts of the international community, the world can recover from the current global challenges.

– Albert Vargas
Photo: Flickr

hunger in the united kingdomThe United Kingdom (U.K.), which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is home to 32 recognized UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like Stonehenge. In addition, the British Library in London is the largest library in the world. However, the United Kingdom struggles with high levels of hunger and food insecurity compared to its European neighbors. In 2018 and 2019 alone, food banks distributed an estimated 3 million parcels of food. Here are 10 facts about hunger in the United Kingdom.

10 Facts About Hunger in the United Kingdom

  1. According to the Evidence and Network on U.K. Household Food Security, 10% U.K. adults live in marginally food insecure households. Another 10% live with moderate or severe food insecurity. Marginal food insecurity indicates concern about one’s ability to access food. However, moderate food insecurity includes compromises and limitations in food quality and variety. It may also include skipping meals and reducing food intake and quantity. Individuals experiencing severe food insecurity often go hungry.
  2. Many children in the U.K. also face food insecurity. UNICEF estimated in 2017 that 19% of children under the age of 15 live with someone who faces moderate or severe food insecurity. Furthermore, 10% of children live with severely food-insecure people.
  3. On a global scale, hunger in the United Kingdom may seem low. UNICEF reports that an 41% of children live in a moderately or severely food-insecure household. However, compared to food insecurity levels in the E.U., the U.K. ranks poorly. Hunger in the United Kingdom puts it fourth among E.U. nations, behind Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania.
  4. People in the U.K. are spending more on food while eating less. In 2012, the poorest 10% of U.K. households spent approximately a quarter of their income on food and non-alcoholic drinks. In contrast, the wealthiest 10% of households spent 4.2% of their income on the same supplies.
  5. Food waste feeds hunger in the United Kingdom. The U.K.’s food waste in 2018 amounted to approximately 9.5 million tons. However, 70% of the wasted food was edible. Only a minuscule amount of this waste went to charities or animal feed. Efforts to prevent food waste therefore remain critical in the fight to end hunger in the United Kingdom.
  6. The need for emergency food supplies in the U.K. is increasing. The Trussell Trust, a U.K. nonprofit whose mission is to stop poverty and hunger in the U.K., distributed 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies from April 2018 to March 2019. Approximately 577,618 of the emergency food supplies went to children. Further, the amount of food distributed marks an 18.8% increase from the previous year.
  7. The U.K. participates in the U.N.’s effort to tackle poverty through The Sustainable Development Goals. The U.N.’s agenda also includes ending hunger by 2030. Nonetheless, a 2018 report released by the U.K. Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) states, “While there is an enormous amount to celebrate, the most vulnerable places and people in our society are increasingly left behind.” Challenges include food insecurity, rising obesity and malnutrition.
  8. The U.K. agreed to measure food insecurity in the Family Resources Survey, which measures U.K. poverty statistics annually. Data collection from 20,000 surveyed households began in April 2019 and will come out in April 2021. Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation, said, “We’ve known for too long now that a disturbing number of people in the U.K. don’t have access to enough nutritious food, but our knowledge has been too patchy to identify real solutions. But this new national measurement of food insecurity is a massive step forward and will provide essential foundations for the response we so urgently need.”
  9. U.K. nonprofit FareShare is helping overcome hunger in the U.K. It does so by redistributing surplus food to charities that then turn the food into meals for community members. So far, the organization’s 1,500 volunteers have redistributed 24,074 tons of food to charities. This is an estimated 14.1 million pounds of food.  Importantly, this is enough to help 10,962 charities and community groups. Overall, the organization has provided 57.3 million meals to people facing food insecurity.
  10. End Hunger U.K., a coalition of 40 organizations, is also working to end poverty and hunger in the United Kindgom. This organization encouraged the U.K. government to fund school programs and holiday food. In 2020, the government invested up to 11.8 million pounds to support families facing food insecurity and provide children with healthy breakfasts. This investment will add up to 650 schools to the National School Breakfast Programme, which provides breakfast delivery grants and healthy food deliveries to schools across the U.K.

Moving Forward

In the past five years, the U.K. government has taken important steps to help end hunger in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, organizations like FareShare and End Hunger U.K. remain central change-makers on the local and national level. Government actors and organizations together provide hope that they can end hunger in the United Kingdom sooner rather than later.

– Zoe Engels
Photo: Flickr

Top Five Facts About U.K. Foreign AidAs one of the most economically developed countries in the world, the U.K. plays a tremendous role in global prosperity. In 2017, the United Kingdom’s gross domestic product per capita was $39,953.60. Here are the top five facts about U.K. foreign aid.

Top 5 Facts About UK Foreign Aid

  1. How much is being spent?
    Since the 1970s, the United Nations has been urging all developing nations to invest 0.7 percent of their gross national income in overseas aid. This is in collaboration with the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to improve international welfare. The U.K. agreed and reached this target in 2013, along with five other countries. Shortly after, the U.K. included this goal in its legislation. By 2015, the U.K. legally required 0.7 percent of its G.N.I. goes toward foreign development. By 2016, the U.K. spent £13.3 billion ($16.9 billion) on international aid. As the U.K. economy continues to grow, the amount the U.K. spends each year does, too.
  2. What are the goals?
    On top of legislation, the U.K. created an aid strategy. The four primary goals of this strategy include promoting global peace, strengthening crises response, aiding in international development and helping the world’s most impoverished people. The government aims to do so by implementing several tactics. For example, 50 percent of all the Department for International Development’s (DFID) spending goes toward aid in developing nations. Moreover, it funds a £1 billion commitment to global health.
  3. How is funding being spent?
    The DFID spends approximately 74 percent of government spending. Smaller departments within the government spend the remaining 26 percent. Most funding (63 percent) goes toward bilateral aid, sent directly to countries in need. Organizations, such as the U.N., distribute the remaining funds. The top recipients of aid include Pakistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria. In 2015, humanitarian projects received the most amount of support. In order to ensure success and public awareness, the DFID site collects data to track foreign aid spending.
  4. What does the government think?
    Conservative parties within the U.K. have argued to reduce foreign aid. Accordingly, these parties believe the money could be better spent domestically. After the 2016 Brexit referendum, concern surrounding foreign aid increased. However, in 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May publically supported the 0.7 percent target goal. Bill Gates has also been a large advocate in support of U.K. foreign aid. In several interviews, Gates has expressed the U.K. should be proud of its contributions toward international poverty reduction.
  5. How does U.K. foreign aid compare?
    Since 2013, the nation has become a global leader in humanitarian aid. It is known as one of the first nations to offer assistance during crises. The U.K. provided relief during Hurrican Irma and the Ebola outbreak in Syria. In 2016, the U.K. ranked fifth in international aid, behind Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark. Norway gives more than 1 percent of its GNI to foreign aid, making it a model for other countries.

Overall, the U.K. should be proud of its contributions. These top five facts about U.K. foreign aid demonstrate the nation has contributed billions of pounds to reducing global poverty. For the future of society, may the U.K. continue to grow and prosper, deepening its stance against global poverty.

Photo: Google Images

War On Want: Fighting Global Poverty
War On Want: Fighting Global Poverty is an organization based out of London that is working to fight “the root causes of poverty, inequality and injustice.” The organization was founded after a letter was written by Victor Gollancz to the newspaper The Guardian in 1951. In his letter, he wrote about the need to end the war in Korea and asked readers to send him a postcard saying ‘yes’ if they agreed with him.

Ever since the ’50s, War On Want has been fighting against the root causes of many different issues in radical ways. Executive director John Hilary says they work to keep, “strong links with social movements in the global South help keep our politics where they should be, in the tradition of radical resistance.”

This, in turn, is how War on Want is seen as more of an alternative organization in comparison to other British nonprofits, which tend to have ties to business and the state. The organization works to fight the root reasons that poverty exists in the first place, rather than the symptoms of poverty. Much of its work is development-related. War on Want is in alliance with trade unions, overseas grassroots movements and a variety of funders, including networks and coalitions.

Some examples of the many projects that War on Want has worked on and accomplished over the years includes wage increases for Zambian agriculture workers, protecting human rights activists around the world and playing a role in the first anti-drone demonstration.

Perhaps the largest actions the organization is currently working toward are issues in Israel, including ending illegal detention and trade of arms. Nearly three-quarters of every pound donated goes towards its campaigns — the last quarter going towards “building the movement.”

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr