In UK, Public Thinks Development Aid is Wasted

A logistics officer with the Department for International Development loads a pallet of humanitarian aid for flood victims in Pakistan. Many U.K. citizens need to be convinced that development aid works and should not be cut. Photo by: Ashley Keates / U.K Ministry of Defence / CC BY NC-ND U.K Ministry of DefenceCC BY NC-ND

More than half of U.K. citizens said they believe development aid is wasted and should be cut, according to a new study that examined public perception of the country’s aid to developing nations.

A similar percentage of those surveyed also said they do not support the government’s decision to protect the aid budget from austerity measures.

“The survey found that 63 percent of people think aid to poor countries should be cut as the government seeks to reduce the budget deficit, while 52 percent think most U.K. aid to developing countries is ineffective,” the Guardian reports.

The study, published by the U.K.-based Institute of Development Studies, urges the government and aid groups to take a new approach in informing and engaging the public about development aid.

“We need to hear more from the people whose lives have been changed by aid. We should do more to understand what UK taxpayers need to hear to be convinced that aid works. And we need to be honest about what works and what doesn’t, so we can learn for the future,” Lawrence Haddad of IDS said as quoted by the Guardian.

Haddad said the U.K. government can use its planned MyAid Initiative to generate more public support for its aid programs.

“If done well it could stimulate debate, show what the public cares about, maybe give it greater ownership of the issue,” he noted.

Eighth most charitable

Meanwhile, an international index of charitable trends ranked the U.K. as the eighth most charitable country in the world. The World Giving Index surveyed some 195,000 people in 153 nations on three activities: giving money, helping a stranger and giving time.

“For giving money, the U.K. came third, with 73 percent of the population having donated to charity in the previous month. For helping a stranger, which asked people whether they had helped someone they did not know in the previous month, the U.K. came 27th. For volunteering it came 29th,” the Third Sector reports.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.