By Shahzad Mahmood
International or foreign aid is distributed to countries that do not have the resources to meet primary needs. There are two forms of international aid: short term and long term. Short-term aid, also known as emergency aid, is given when a country is in need of crucial supplies during a natural disaster or in times of war. The supplies usually include food, shelter, medical care and water. Short-term aid is important when the people affected are in need of crucial supplies to survive.
Long-term aid is used to help a country develop through establishing schools, hospitals, roads, irrigation and sanitation systems. The ultimate goal of long-term aid is to provide a backbone for the country and its people so they can move forward and help themselves.
True Volunteer Foundation provides long-term aid through its focus on providing education to those who do not have access to opportunities for personal development; be that by providing access to finance and training to run a small business or building a school so children have a place to learn and grow.
There is the age-old saying, “give a man a fish and he will eat for the day; teach a man to fish and he will eat every day”. Education is at the heart of change – it teaches, trains and assists understanding so ultimately every individual can support themselves and their community. With access to quality education people can break the poverty cycle, without access to education many poor families become trapped in poverty for generations due to having limited knowledge and skills on how to break the cycle.
TVF has set up nurseries and primary schools for children to get a head start, providing them with the same opportunities as other children around the world and hopefully inspiring them to pursue other interests such as medicine, technology or even agriculture. TVF has also been involved with other types of education projects, such as setting up community centres for adults to learn more about how they can utilise their resources to benefit themselves and their families.
The role of education in poverty eradication is crucial; only countries who have good educational systems have achieved self-sufficiency, growth and prosperity. There are many challenges in achieving an equal and quality education for everyone across the world, particularly in countries that face extreme poverty and hardship. NGOs and governments must continue to work together to improve access to education – quality education can truly change the world and empower people to help themselves.
By. Penelope Maclachlan
There’s many a slip between cup and lip summarises what can go wrong if richer countries try to help poorer ones through aid alone. Maladministration and corruption can occur anywhere along the supply line. If the recipient is torn apart by natural or manmade disasters – tsunamis or civil war, for example – the likelihood multiplies of thieves snatching for themselves what was meant for victims.
A more effective way of helping the world’s poorest people is to tax businesses operating in poor countries. Financial leaders must make clear the use that governments will make of revenue collected. Building a dictator’s seventh palace is misuse of tax. Appropriate use includes health, education and infrastructure. Every country should progress until it no longer needs foreign aid, but is self-sufficient. Bernard Shaw said that benevolent people loathe alms-giving; no one, individual or nation, should need charity.
The G8, comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, USA and the UK, recognises this. Since 1 January 2013 the UK has been president of the G8. Earlier this year George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, presented to the Group policies on tax evasion and ways to help poorer countries collect taxes due to them. Osborne said that the UK had helped Ethiopia increase tax collection, and he claimed the UK had also helped Kenya and Ghana. In February 2013, Group of 20 finance chiefs engaged in talks in Moscow with a pledge to stop multinational companies moving profits to low-tax countries.
Tax has acquired a bad name which it does not deserve. When citizens pay taxes they should feel confident that the revenue will go towards what they need for themselves and their families and friends, and the prosperity of their country. They should also understand that we must pay a fair price for imports such as chocolate and coffee. Without the growers in Africa, the UK would lack these commodities.
Aid does nothing towards preventing tax evasion, or recovering misappropriated funds. Tax reforms enshrined in international law are overdue. David Cameron at the World Economic Forum in Davos (The Guardian, 24 January 2013) took a swipe at Starbucks for paying £8.6m corporation tax in the UK over the past 14 years – a fraction of what it owed. Starbucks’ promise to pay £20m over two years is controversial. Paying tax is not a matter of promise but a legal obligation. Tax reforms may be the answer but as yet governments lack ways of enforcing them.