New Report On Child Health, Education Shows Development Aid’s Effectiveness

“In an age of austerity, when everyone is feeling the pinch, some question whether we should continue giving aid to poor countries,” Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children U.K., writes in a Telegraph opinion piece. He says “[t]he resounding answer is yes, according to a new report [.pdf], … which for the first time presents quantifiable evidence of the impact of aid on child survival, health and education” (4/17). The joint report, by the Overseas Development Institute, Save the Children and UNICEF, “analyzes the improvements to children’s lives during the past two decades in five sectors: health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and child protection,” according to the report website (4/17). The report’s “findings are inspiring,” Forsyth writes, noting, “Four million fewer children aged under five died in 2010 than in 1990.”

In addition to aid, “economic growth, good governance and political will” are “other key factors,” and “[t]he better these parts of the puzzle fit together in a given country or context, the better the result,” Forsyth writes. “The report shows that using aid to drive child-focused development pushes economies forward, countering criticisms that it fosters dependency in recipient countries. Targeting aid to children saves lives in the short term, is a catalyst for development, and fills a critical gap when other conditions are lacking,” he says. However, challenges remain, including targeting those in conflict zones or marginalized populations or coordinating with national governments, he notes. Forsyth writes, “Overall, however, the clear conclusion of this new analysis is that aid works, and it works in a number of different contexts and situations,” and commends the U.K. government’s “continued commitment to give 0.7 percent of its income in aid” (4/17).