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Coffee House

Can you help Andrew Mitchell?

10 January 2013

4:22 PM

10 January 2013

4:22 PM

Andrew Mitchell, formerly of DFID, urgently needs Coffee Housers’ help. It seems he won’t believe DFID wastes money, unless he sees actual, concrete examples.

Last week, in the magazine, we ran a foreign aid special in which Jonathan Foreman and Justin Shaw  showed us how and why we waste so much on ineffectual aid. In principle of course aid is a wonderful idea, but it can also be a blight: propping up dictators and entrenching corruption in the countries that are struggling most.

We identified two major concerns:

  1. A lack of DFID due diligence
  2. The daft ring-fence around aid ­ 0.7% of GDP ­ which means the DFID has its work cut out trying to get rid of all the cash quick enough, and has an incentive to turn a blind eye to what happens to it on the ground.

[Alt-Text]


If you confront politicians about this, writes Jonathan Forman, they respond with sentimental guff about saving childrens’ lives as if that puts an end to the argument.

So here’s Mr Mitchell’s reply in this week’s magazine. It’s all about the children, he says (did he read Foreman’s piece?): How about the 11 million children in school? A child was vaccinated every two seconds and a child’s life saved every two minutes because of us. Ringfence? What ring-fence. He doesn’t address it at all.

So Mr Mitchell and Mr Cameron clearly need help. (We’ll let Greening off the hook for the moment, because she seems to understand the problem) They need to know just how much aid money is still wasted by DFID; that it’s not enough just to say: But we help children!

Spec magazine readers have written in with a number of examples of misspent aid ­ including even on worthy-sounding education projects. Patrick Crossley from Bexhill points to a 2011 report by the Crisis group, in which it was revealed that ALL our aid money to Afghanistan was largely ineffective; some even spent on bribes to insurgent groups.

Do Coffee Housers have any other examples? We’ll run the best ones in the magazine next week.

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