The aid gap — and why it must be filled

31 October 2013
Dóchas (the association of Irish Non-Governmental Development Organisations) has alerted us to an interesting new report on development aid. Its findings are not particularly comforting, but the report is certainly informative. It comes from Concord, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs. Concord is made up of 27 national associations, 18 international networks and two associate members. Between them they represent over 1,800 NGOs, supported by millions of citizens across Europe. Concord’s role is to be a voice for NGOs in discussions with the EU institutions on development policy. You can take it therefore that Concord has a fairly reliable network from which to get information on overseas development assistance spending in the EU. And it has put that information to good use in its 2013 AidWatch Report. This report shows that the Irish experience is not unusual: European aid to poor countries is stalling. The estimate is that 19 EU countries have cut or frozen their overseas aid. What makes this even more dispiriting is that most or all of these countries have signed up to the promise to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals target of contributing 0.7 per cent of GNP to overseas development assistance by the EU deadline of 2015. That looks a forlorn hope right now; the report looks at both the quality and quantity of EU aid, and presents analysis showing that the funding gap to reach the UN target stands at €36 billion. But the report is not a council of despair. While detailing the aid shortfall it speaks up for aid as unique in its effects. Growth alone cannot eradicate poverty, the report argues, and it offers ten reasons why aid is irreplaceable. It also calls for Europe to take a lead in reversing the declining trends in aid practice. Clearly this organisation has no intention of giving up the Millennium Development Goals fight any time soon. If you’d like to know more, then do take a look at the report, which can be found on In fact the Concord site overall is very informative and worth some of your time. We hope fairly soon to get an Irish NGO response to the report: Dóchas is planning a seminar for its members on AidWatch, the Act Now on 2015 campaign and the 2014 Budget in November. We’ll keep you posted on this. In the meantime, any encouragement you can give to your elected representatives to keep their promise to the poor of the world will be a great support to Concord’s - and our - work.