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Thursday, March 30, 2017
Report find EU gives more aid to highways than health, education and agriculture
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¬†A new CAFOD report finds that the European Community's (EC) aid is improving but still has a long way to go if it is to end poverty The European Community (EC) needs to refocus its aid onto projects which affect people directly, involve those affected by its funding in planning projects, and monitor the impact of its work better. These are the key findings of a a critical report ≠ The EU's Footprint in the South ≠ which investigates the real impact of billions of euros in EC aid on the lives of the poor. Released as the EU celebrates its 50th anniversary, the report reveals that the EC's preference for major highway projects in some countries means health, education and agricultural programmes that could really make a difference to people's lives are bypassed. It also shows that the EC does not monitor sufficiently the impacts of its programmes on poverty reduction and therefore cannot judge whether they are successful. The EC fails to involve civil society and others most affected by its aid priorities when planning projects. The report is a joint Catholic development network initiative of CIDSE and Caritas Europa, of which CAFOD is a member. Research was carried out in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Zambia. However, the report does point out that, despite these shortcomings, the EC's performance is improving. CAFOD head of policy George Gelber said: "This is a unique and in-depth study drawing upon research carried out with local organisations in six countries to try to determine whether EC aid truly makes a difference to the poor. "The findings show a mixed picture. Governments compare EC aid with what it was like ten years ago, so celebrate significant improvement. "But, measured against its potential, EC aid has a long way to go. Aid is vital to ensure people in developing countries have a future. However, it's just as crucial that this money addresses poverty at its core. "We know aid works and has brought down the rate of infant mortality, disease and hunger in many parts of the world. The EC has increased its overall aid budget in recent years and now needs to think hard about its poverty focus and involve communities who are most affected." CAFOD partner Paul Samangassou, the incoming executive secretary for Caritas Africa, sais that, in Cameroon, more than two-thirds of EC funding is used for the construction of large international link roads. "But these roads are not the first investment needed to directly benefit the poor. Poor people living in rural areas need roads that connect them with other areas if they are to benefit from economic development and access to health services." The report also highlights positive experiences. Gweneth Barry from CAFOD partner Poverty Action Network Ethiopia (PANE) says: "The EC has made efforts in Ethiopia to ensure that its aid improves food security for the greater population. "There is also a good dialogue with organisations such as PANE on the priorities for EC aid."
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