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Money for aid and development

Good quality aid saves lives and helps poor people work their own way out of poverty.

We want people in power to spend aid money effectively, help the poorest people, and reduce developing countries' debts.

The number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.

Source: UN MDG Report 2015 

Between 2010 and 2015, UK aid has helped to distribute 47 million bed nets, contributing to malaria deaths falling by 60% over the last 15 years. 

Source: UK Government Aid Strategy 2015




The issue

Two big issues make it harder for poor countries to beat poverty: the lack of aid they get, and the high amount of debt they repay.

Rich countries have pledged to give 0.7% of their annual national incomes in foreign aid. But so far, only six nations have reached that target (they are the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands).

And rich countries are forcing poor countries to repay debts far bigger than their original loans, instead of spending precious cash on essentials like schools and hospitals.

Bangladesh, for example, has to make crippling debt repayments, when it desperately needs to use money for better health care and education - especially for almost 50 million Bangladeshis who still live in poverty. (Source: UNDP Bangladesh Country Profile.)

What we're doing

Oxfam is encouraging governments and organisations such as the UN to keep their promises on aid, and spend it more effectively, by targeting the people who most need help.

And that campaigning has already had a huge impact:

  • Zambia's debt was cancelled in 2005, enabling the UK Government to introduce free health care for people in rural areas - scrapping fees that once stopped millions getting the care they needed. And education got a boost too - some of the money that was freed up paid for 4,500 new teachers.

  • Millions of children in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Malawi are now going to school, thanks to a combination of debt relief and aid.

  • Roads built in Ethiopia with money from countries like the UK are now making it easier for children to get to school, people to reach hospitals, and farmers to transport and sell their crops.

  • Over 40 years of lobbying by Oxfam and others finally paid off in March 2013 when the UK Government finally made good on a promise to spend 0.7% of national income on aid - a promise that will change millions of lives for good. 

  • In 2015, the UK's commitment to spend 0.7 percent of our national income on fighting poverty passed into law - something Oxfam and others fought hard to make a reality.

We're also campaigning to make sure other rich countries keep their promises to give 0.7% of their annual national incomes.

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More about money and aid for developmentMore about money for aid and development on our Policy & Practice website.

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