We were shocked and disappointed to have received the devastating news that a Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) UK Aid Direct grant of £120,000 over three years provisionally awarded to Tools for Self Reliance from the Community Partnerships programme, for a project originally due to start in April of this year, has been withdrawn as a result of the UK aid cuts. Another application in the assessment phase will no longer be considered as the newly merged FCDO decimates overseas aid funding and wipes out thousands of pounds from small organisations delivering grassroots projects which would have changed the lives of vulnerable people living in poverty.
This project represented three years of planning with our local partners NORSAAC and would have changed the lives of over 1500 people in Ghana, including 1000 women, who would have benefitted from being able to grow more food, earn more money, and play a more active role in their communities. The long term effects – better nutrition, more children in school, especially girls, more sustainable businesses and farming practices – will now be lost, unless we can find alternative funding – a huge challenge when so many organisations working overseas have been affected by these cuts which have seen millions cut from essential services such as water and sanitation, reproductive health, and education. The global long term impacts could be catastrophic. You can read a full statement from our partners NORSAAC here: NORSAAC statement on the UK Aid cuts
We are challenging the cuts, and have written to our local MP Julian Lewis to share our concerns about their impact – both internationally, and here in the UK as small international development charities face closure. If you want to support Tools for Self Reliance in asking the Government to think again on aid cuts, you can write to your MP too. We want to ask for the cut from 0.7 to 0.5 to be reversed, and for withdrawn grants to NGOs to be reinstated in the next financial year.
The UK has historically had a world-leading aid budget, and cutting it will affect the lives of millions of people globally. The impact could be catastrophic; whilst we were devastated that our own funding was withdrawn for a livelihoods project, we are shocked that funding for basic services like water and sanitation has been cut by 80% and reproductive health by 85%. We are concerned that public statements from the FCDO talk about prioritising girls’ education, and that this demonstrates a lack of understanding of the complex and interconnected nature of poverty, given they are removing support for the very foundation that would lead to improvements in this area.
The cut uses COVID-19 as a rationale for reducing from 0.7 to 0.5, yet this ignores the fact that the aid budget has always been based on a percentage to allow it to shrink with the economy. The £4bn cut is equivalent to just 1% of the national debt arising from COVID-19. Preserving the 0.7 was a promise made to the electorate, and is in contravention of the International Development Act of 2015. COVID-19 has taken a huge economic toll on the UK and we appreciate difficult decisions must be made – but cutting projects to the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantage people it not one that should be an option.
We are determined that we will continue to work alongside our partners to find sustainable, locally led solutions to the poverty and disadvantage which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, and we are fortunate to have so many wonderful supporters behind us. We will be posting more updates on the impact of the cuts in the coming weeks – in the meantime please do get in touch if you have any questions.