It’s almost 18 months since George Osborne committed to spending 0.7% of our national income on international development aid. It was a great achievement, but the hard work isn’t over just yet.
On Friday, MPs will decide whether to make the government’s commitment law. 100 MPs need to turn up and vote in favour of Michael Moore’s International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Private Members’ Bill for it to pass. If it does, it will be a landmark moment for this country – and for millions of people in some of the world’s poorest countries.
A reason to be proud
The 0.7% target has been the development aid benchmark for the world’s richest countries for over 40 years now, though only a handful of them have got there. Last year, we met the target for the first time – the only G8 country to do so. We should feel proud of our achievement, which has set a powerful example for others.
0.7% might not sound like a big chunk of our income, but it added up to £11.4bn last year. And it makes an amazing difference. British aid already saves – and transforms – the lives of an incredible number of children every year; with this firm commitment, we will be able to do far more.
Often, it’s the really simple stuff that has the biggest impact. In the poorest parts of the world, diseases like malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and polio are killers, but for the price of a cup of coffee, children can be protected against them. Thanks to British aid, a child gets vaccinated every two seconds – over the past four years, that has saved 1.4 million lives.
Between 2011 and 2014, British aid has also helped give 10.2 million children the chance to go to school, and provided millions more with improved access to vital healthcare, clean water and improved hygiene. These are the building blocks that are vital to any country’s growth.
Why does the vote matter?
But if we’re already meeting the commitment, why do we need to jump through another hoop?
Enshrining the 0.7% in law will mean that our current aid commitment is maintained. Once that’s set in stone, we can concentrate on where the aid goes, and what we actually spend it on.
It will be a giant step towards making sure that our generation is the first to ensure that no child dies from a preventable or treatable illness like diarrhoea, pneumonia or malaria, or because they don’t have enough food to eat.
What you can do
We need as many MPs as possible to turn up in Parliament on Friday and vote in favour of the bill. At present, more than 80 have said that they will, but we need 100 in order to be sure the vote passes. You can find out whether your MP is one of them here. If they haven’t, then you can help by emailing or tweeting them today to let them know how important the vote is to you – and to the children that money can help. And even if they are going, a reminder that you care about this won’t hurt.
We’re on the verge of a massive achievement. You can help make it happen.