Recently, members of the United Kingdom’s Conservative right and the U.K. Independence Party, or UKIP, have attacked the U.K.’s development efforts in such countries, arguing that countries like India-which has its own space program—are no longer in need of foreign aid.
But is foreign aid to countries like India, China, and Brazil really misplaced? A cross-party report from the U.K.’s House of Commons international development committee suggests not. Instead, the study says that the U.K. should stand up for such development spending.
“The U.K. may no longer have a traditional aid relationship with these countries, but it is spending official development assistance in Brazil, India and China, and is rather diffident about admitting this,” the report says.
The report comes in the wake of Parliament’s decision to make foreign aid a compulsory 0.7 percent of the U.K.’s budget.
Sir Malcolm Bruce, a Scottish Liberal Democrat and chairman of Parliament’s International Development Committee, stressed the importance of aid in the globalized modern world.
“Aid remains essential in our modern world, to respond at times of crisis, and to help the poorest people build sustainable livelihoods,” Bruce said. “We also think aid has a role to play in some middle-income countries, like India, China and Brazil, especially in building new partnerships for the future.”
According to the report, foreign aid to such countries is important because many of their citizens still live in extreme poverty. A separate but also recent report from the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative showed that many of the world’s poorest people are in fact located in middle-income nations like India.
Despite their middle-income status, countries like Brazil and India still face rampant wealth inequality. As of 2012, Brazil’s GINI coefficient, a measurement used by World Bank to identify inequality, was 52.7, one of the highest in the world. While these countries might be considered middle-income, their people still face significant environmental and humanitarian challenges—foreign aid can play an important role in meeting them successfully.
– Parker Carroll