Scottish Government may cut number of countries helped by aid

Scottish charities have many ongoing projects in Malawi. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Scottish charities have many ongoing projects in Malawi. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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Scottish ministers are to decide this summer whether to cut the number of countries that can benefit from its £9million foreign aid budget.

Scotland has supported projects in seven countries – Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania, Pakistan, Bangladesh and a handful of states in India – over several years.

Ministers will now look at whether to refocus the way it spends its International Development Fund to make a bigger impact on the ground.

READ MORE: Where does Scotland’s foreign aid go?

A consultation into the future of the fund has now closed with a response by ministers due by the end of next month.

Meanwhile, only projects in Malawi – where Scotland has worked for more than ten years – have their funding secured until 2018.

They include VSO’s project to equip pupils in Kasungu with mobile tablets to improve numeracy and literacy (£600,000); Christian Aid’s project to boost maternal and child held in Balaka (£600,000) and Tearfunds’ empowerment project for boys and girls in rural Chitipa (£460,355).

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Year-long funding for 14 smaller projects in five countries – worth a total of £500,000 – has continued.

Two major charities working in Scotland, Oxfam and Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), have backed any move to reduce the number of countries the government supports.

Lorraine Currie, who leads SCIAF’S international projects, said the fund “should focus on fewer countries and delivering depth as opposed to breadth”.

Oxfam added that a “robust exit strategy” must be in place before the Scottish Government ends support in any country.

The charity’s consultation response said: “We recognise and understand the rationale behind the Scottish Government’s intention to reduce its geographic spread. However, prior to implementing this shift, it is vital that it develops a robust exit strategy to minimise the impact on those countries affected.”

The consultation comes after the Scottish Government signed up to the UN’s 17 Global Goals last September to tackle poverty and inequality until 2030.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The purpose of the consultation was to seek views both from ID stakeholders and members of the general public on how our international development programme can become more focused and targeted both geographically, in terms of the number of countries we work in, and thematically.”

Holyrood has committed to spend £3m a year to help the world’s poorest communities deal with climate change.

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