It was great to see about 20 people come down to the last Aid Talks of 2013. After an Acknowledgement of Country and a quick round of introductions, AID/WATCH Campaigner Thulsi Narayanasamy, spoke about the continuation of long standing trends in the aid program, with a particular emphasis on the use of aid money for private, commercial benefits, and how this provides an opportunity to think critically about aid.
In the spirit of debate, the group broke into smaller groups and examined two sides of an approach to aid campaigning, grossly simplified as ‘more aid’ vs. ‘better aid’. Specifically, one group looked at the advantages and disadvantages of using the internationally agreed 0.7% of Gross National Income as a target for donor countries. Two other groups looked at the advantages and disadvantages of a more complex approach to aid.
The group decided that the key advantage of the 0.7% approach was that it was a simple, good hook that could be used to start a conversation. It was also seen as a relatively small step from Australia’s current aid allocation – 0.5% of GNI – to 0.7%. Disadvantages identified were that the target was arbitrary, not outcome-focussed, and perhaps too simplistic.
Another group considered the merits of a more complex approach to aid campaigning, one that emphasised quality in order to deliver genuine poverty relief and meet the diverse needs of communities. The group decided that the best outcome of a more complex approach to aid was that it could change the accepted dialogue or rhetoric around aid. Another advantage was that it would provide more information and more sophisticated arguments, and allow for the exploration of systemic causes of poverty. Disadvantages identified were that would be a difficult message to communicate to or appeal to the broader community; the risk of losing funding; and that this approach was highly resource intensive.
Finally, AID/WATCH Chair, Matt Hilton, spoke about the problems caused by the troubled Cambodia Railways Project and the Cambodia Railways Report, which AID/WATCH released in 2012.
Listen to Matt’s talk
Thanks once again to all those new and old faces who came out to the last Aid Talks of 2013. We hope you will join us again at Aid Talks in 2014.