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Why is Ireland so good at foreign aid? The Famine

Seriously. According to the OECD, anyway.

Image: Wikimedia

A NEW REPORT from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that Irish people should be proud of how much we give to foreign nations.

In their peer review of the Irish system, the OECD says that the Irish system is a tribute to the Great Famine, but is based on sound logic.

“The focused approach to hunger is, in particular, a legacy of Ireland’s own history of famine in the 1840s.

“Ireland’s Policy for International Development (2013) provides a sound rationale and basis for making decisions on where to focus Ireland’s official development assistance. This policy as well as sector strategies help ensure that Irish aid targets poor people and gets to where it is most needed.”

However, the report says that Ireland has some deficiencies in foreign aid policy-making.

It says that the country lacks joint-up thinking, does not have enough evidence of how other, non-aid policies, impact on poor countries, and has “no clear processes “for identifying and managing conflicts or trade-offs between its aid policy and other government policies, in the area of agriculture, trade, taxation, migration, fisheries, energy, health care or climate.

It also points out that that the aid budget has been cut year-on-year since 2008 and that the government has not set out how it plans to achieve a target of spending 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid.

It also says that staff involved in foreign affairs have a “huge” turnover rate.

Ireland has allocated €600 million for overseas development aid for next year. Seán Sherlock, the junior minister with responsibility in this area, told Morning Ireland a considerable amount of the funds this year had to be divested into Syria because of the crisis there.

He said Ireland has “measured up” in terms of taking action to help those caught up in the conflict.

Read: A worker from Irish aid agency Concern has died from a suspected case of Ebola in Liberia

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