The Dutch government has unveiled its new development priorities for 2012 amid a €958 million ($1.3 billion) cut to its development cooperation budget.
Despite the cut, which represents a 17.8 percent decrease from the 2011 budget, the Netherlands will still be spending a total of €4.34 billion for development cooperation in 2012.
Saying that 2012 will be the year of “development policy modernization,” Dutch development minister Ben Knapen revealed the following four priority areas for which the Netherlands will be spending a total of €114 million more in 2012 than in 2011:
Water: €181 million
Food security: €219 million
Security and the legal order: €385 million
Sexual and reproductive health and rights, a major component of which is fighting HIV and AIDS: €335 million
Aside from these priority themes, the Dutch government has announced it will not reduce the budgets for human rights and gender equality.
However, the budgets for emergency aid, good governance, and environmental and climate programs will decline due to the reduction of the total development cooperation budget.
The cuts in these areas, however, will not be as radical as the budgets for so-called “low-priority” themes such as education (which is €95 million less than in 2011), combined spending for SRHR, health care, and HIV and AIDS (from €479 million to €337 million), budget support (which is being cut by €102 million) and the Dutch contribution to the United Nations Development Program (which is being cut by €42 million).
The Netherlands, however, maintained these themes have been given a lower priority not because they are unimportant, “but because the Netherlands has less added value to offer on these themes than other donor countries.”
The cuts are consistent with an agreement in 2010 to lower the government’s contribution for development cooperation in stages — from 0.8 percent of gross national product in 2010 to 0.7 percent of GNP in 2012.
Knapen added the Dutch government will continue working within the European Union, but said the EU “should be more critical in giving general budget support.”
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