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The ‘double aid to halve poverty’ agenda: concerns from the UK

Research reports

This paper is part of a series synthesizing work on PRSPs; aid modalities; and aid harmonisation to encourage dialogue between UK and Japanese researchers on these issues.

‘Double aid to halve poverty’ is currently the catchphrase of UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. The idea lies behind his ‘brainchild’ in the runup to the UK-hosted G8 summit in July, the International Financing Facility (IFF). The same phrase can also be viewed as a summary of the arguments of the report out this month by the Millennium Project, led by Jeffrey Sachs.

High-level political commitment to ‘double’ or at least dramatically increase aid is therefore combined with a strong desire to bring about a ‘step-change’ in African development. While the development community in the UK and globally, including Africa, welcome the degree of attention poverty reduction is therefore currently receiving, concerns are visible concerning the case being put forward. This paper is an attempt to outline some of the main concerns that are being aired. The issues involved are necessarily varied and wideranging and a paper of this size and scope cannot hope to cover all ‘bases’. However, it is hoped that, while welcoming the current high-level attention to aid and development, there is a need to try to think through how this will work best, the potential implications and any unintended negative consequences.

This paper takes as its starting point the recent report by the Millennium Project led by Jeffrey Sachs and the closely allied IFF proposal and related statements by Gordon Brown. While it cannot address the arguments there in much depth, it is hoped that an outline of some of the concerns around the ‘double aid to halve poverty’ agenda will serve to stimulate both debate and thinking in Japan and other countries. Even if aid budgets are not likely to rise, many of the same issues are also relevant to current levels of aid.

Debbie Warrener, Emily Perkin and Julius Court