International Aid Under Election Spotlight

Scotland’s political parties set out their plans on international aid at a hustings event on Sunday. Following a call by eight of Scotland’s leading aid agencies, the main parties detailed what they intended to do to tackle global poverty.

Aid workers want politicians to do more to bridge the gap between public support for action and urgent need in developing countries. The “development day” event took place at St Augustines Church in the capital.

The SNP promised to double the current international aid budget given by the Scottish Executive if they gain power. The Liberal Democrats are calling for a similar package and looking for cross party support on the issue regardless of the outcome of the election. Labour have promised to continue to target their international aid budget to Malawai. The Scottish Conservatives feel the issue is one better handled nationally with the large budgets of Whitehall.

Judith Robertson, head of Oxfam in Scotland, said: “Worldwide 5,000 children will die from dirty water every day, 1,440 women will die in child birth and 80 million children will not go to school tomorrow. That is why this is not a polite request for more action, but an urgent demand that Scotland’s politicians do all that they can to address the injustice of global poverty.

“We believe that there is a lot more that can be done to further develop and improve Scotland’s current aid policy and ensure Scotland is a force for good in the developing world. In particular we want to see an increase in the aid budget and a commitment to improving the quality of Scottish aid.”

Paul Chitnis, from SCIAF, said: “It is now almost two years since the Make Poverty History march in central Edinburgh when 250,000 people, most of the them Scots, joined a worldwide demand for more and better aid, trade, justice and to drop the debt.