Author Archive

CAFOD’s Reshuffle Response

September 4, 2012

Responding to today’s Cabinet reshuffle, CAFOD Director, Chris Bain has said:

“As Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell was passionate in his defence of the aid budget and dedicated in his efforts to achieve change for poor and marginalised people. While we did not always agree, his role in aid and development will be missed, and his contribution will be remembered.

“We welcome Justine Greening to her new role, and we look forward to working with her in the future. Not every Cabinet role offers the post-holder a chance to be known the world over as the leading force on vital issues, and to make a mark on the lives of billions around the world, and we are sure that Justine Greening will rise to those challenges.

“In particular, we would urge her to play a leading role over the coming year in international efforts to tackle the global food crisis, and work closely with the Prime Minister in seeking a strong and legitimate successor to the Millennium Development Goals which expire in 2015, putting the needs and voices of the poorest people at centre stage.

“The private sector and NGOs are not always easy bedfellows, yet both have much to learn from each other if future development challenges are to be addressed and Justine Greening’s ability to bring us together to serve the common good will be vital.

“We also hope that she will build on the success of Andrew Mitchell’s UK Aid Match initiative, which – even in times of austerity at home – has inspired people across the country to break all records in raising funds for those in the greatest need.

“We’ve seen the courage and principle demonstrated in her work at the Department for Transport, which will also be vital in defending the aid budget and tackling the root causes of poverty across the world, so we are pleased and heartened by her appointment.”

Poverty in China: Gone, but (not) forgotten?

April 12, 2011

By Flickr user trey.menefee

The news that India is to keep receiving aid from the UK over the next four years was one of the more controversial outcomes of DFID’s Bilateral Aid Review, with a range of criticism from the slightly hysterical to the more thoughtful (though CAFOD, and most other NGOs, supported continuing to give aid to India.) Perhaps unsurprisingly in these straitened times there was much less media focus on any of the 16 countries, such as China, that will no longer receive any support from DFID.

Which is a shame, because this ignores the enormous success some countries have had in reducing poverty. A recent report by Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz from the Brookings Institution argues that income poverty in China could all but disappear by 2015. Their figures suggest that by 2015 only 0.3% of the Chinese population will be living on less than $1.25 dollars a day. This would mean that between 2010 and 2015 50.1 million Chinese people would lift themselves out of income poverty, potentially bringing the total reduction in Chinese citizens living on $1.25 a day since 2000 to 203.3 million, second only to India in the poverty reduction stakes for this period.


Climate Change and Democracy in Cancun?

November 1, 2010

I will be joining governments and civil society organisations (CSO) from all around the world in December 2010, Cancun Mexico, to attend United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Indigenous women and men of India who I previously worked with, and many ‘others’ from global south will not be there however.

Wheat watching: vulnerability and speculation

September 3, 2010

This is a guest blog post by George Gelber.

Headlines are once again linking the words “Food” and “crisis”. Drought and fires in Russia, floods in Pakistan, too much rain in Canada and worries about Australia have sent the price of wheat soaring, nothing like the peak of 431 dollars a tonne reached in 2008, but painful nevertheless. Egypt recently paid between $280 and $298 for different shipments of wheat. At the beginning of the year they would have paid $100 less per tonne.

Photo by Flickr user KevinLallier


Development Cooperation Forum – a Summary

August 24, 2010

This is a guest post by George Gelber.

A few weeks ago, before Russian drought and fires and Pakistan floods hit the news, I attended the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN because aid transparency and aid accountability were on the agenda.  The United Nations is the international institution where developing countries feel most at home because they all have a chance to say something and maybe influence the course of events.  Nowhere is this more evident than the DCF, a bubbling cauldron of ideas, complaints, proposals and obsessions.

The DCF also provides a salutaryreminder that “out of sight, out of mind” applies to development and poverty as well as everything else.  The Mongolia delegate said that an unusually harsh winter, with temperatures of -40° to -50° had killed large numbers of livestock and forced rural people to take refuge in the cities.  The UN issued an appeal for emergency assistance in May – for USD18,000,000 but only 8 per cent had been pledged thus far.  The Mongolian delegate was politely thanked for her contribution and the discussion moved on.

So what are the issues that have floated to the top of the DCF?  The president’s summary was a long list of which these are just a sample of items. 


Climate finance – a hot topic in Bonn

June 11, 2010

In Bonn, a city that’s starting to feel like my second home, the negotiations are in full swing.  My specialist subject, climate finance, is a hot topic here. It’s a big issue – covering where the money will be sourced from, how it is counted, and where it will flow through.  But essentially it’s one of the keys to unlocking the potential to reduce emissions in developing countries and help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.

In the first week here at the UNFCCC session, we saw intense and polarised discussions on where the money will flow through. At present there are almost 20 funds, not to mention the plethora of bi-lateral agreements between developed and developing countries that all deliver climate action.  Developing countries have huge difficulties accessing the small fragmented pockets of money available.  Under these circumstances they were asking for more coordination and oversight to ensure that all countries have equal opportunities to the money they require to help them develop in a sustainable manner.

This seems eminently sensible and fair, but not so to the US and other developed countries like Japan, who disagree on having “their” money going to countries that they don’t trust or necessarily like. So the crux of the matter is that developed countries are still treating this money like aid, and not justice.