Charlie Billington: Living proof is smart aid saves lives

Foreign aid was in the news yesterday as Defence Secretary Liam Fox challenged the government's plans for our foreign aid.

He was unhappy with the coalition's promise to pass a law requiring that we give 0.7 per cent of our national income in foreign aid each year, despite it being a commitment in all three party manifestos.

We're a generous nation, and it's only right we stay the course. But, it does leave me wondering – where does all that money go, and does it make a difference?

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We've been giving for years, and it seems like nothing ever changes. Or does it? Tonight, I'm thrilled to host an event that will help us to find the answers to these questions.

Campaign groups ONE and the Global Poverty Project are presenting the Living Proof Tour, sharing examples of what is and isn't working in fighting poverty.

Smarter aid has helped 46 million more African children into school since 1999, and globally has helped reduce child deaths, with 2.4 million fewer children dying in 2009 than in 2004.

This is the living proof that smart aid works.

And they're throwing down a challenge. They're saying our efforts can help save the lives of four million children in the next five years. World leaders are gathering in London next month to pledge funds for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. GAVI needs an additional 2.3 billion over five years to continue the roll-out of vaccines to save these lives, including two new ones against diarrhoea and pneumonia – two of the biggest killers of children in poor countries.

So, if we really want to see that our promised foreign aid makes a difference, we have the chance to ask our elected politicians – MPs like Mike Crockart, Mark Lazarowicz and Alistair Darling – to allocate aid to these vaccines.

We can be a part of saving four million children's lives, and to me that seems like money well spent.

So please, join us this evening at the George Square Lecture Theatre, in George Square, Edinburgh, 7:00-8.30pm.

• Charlie Billington is Living Proof Tour event host.