As I was on my way to work earlier this week, coffee in hand to blow away the morning cobwebs, I read with interest an article that announced a shift in focus for the Department for International Development.
Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, has been working on his aid review with an objective of making programmes and funding more focused, transparent and effective; this is a potentially exciting development for children across the developing world.
It’s also an exciting announcement for all the Save the Children campaigners out there who took the No Child Born to Die vaccines action. That’s because one of the ambitious targets which Mitchell has set for DFID by 2015 is to vaccinate more children against preventable diseases across the world than the entire population of the UK. This is great news which builds on the announcement that David Cameron will be opening a summit on vaccines in London in June.
Another positive outcome of the review was the target of securing schooling for 11 million children in the developing world. Astoundingly, this figure amounts to more children than we educate here in the UK, but at only 2.5% of the cost! Let’s hope that the education will also be of a high quality.
Despite all this, we need to continue to hold the government to account. The government has taken significant strides towards taking a leadership role in international development with its announcements – particularly on the 0.7% of GDP which we are pledging towards international aid. However, we’ve got to keep up the pressure and make sure some of the details that will be added in coming months and years are to the maximum benefit of the most vulnerable children.
As an example, while it’s pleasing that DFID has selected 27 priority countries to ensure the concentration of resources to those areas with the greatest need, we need to keep a close eye on what is happening in the countries which haven’t made the priority list. Will there be a proper exit strategy that doesn’t risk undoing progress which has been made previously?
So, what can you do?
Why not make a date to have a cup of tea (or coffee) with your MP at Westminster Central Hall on the 9 June? Thousands of supporters of international development will be coming to London for a day of inspiring speeches, informative workshops – and, most importantly, the chance to meet their MP over a cup of tea in order to make an impact on global poverty.
Tea Time for Change will be one of the biggest Westminster lobbies taking place on one day. Make sure you attend!
Let’s take inspiration from the fact that our recent campaigns have influenced government policy in the latest DFID aid review, and show the government that we intend on holding them to account on these targets.
P.S. Keep your eyes peeled for information on the lobby and how to register!