Overseas aid budget cut by nearly 25%

GUERNSEY’S overseas aid budget has been slashed by nearly 25%, in a bid to help Guernsey balance its books during the pandemic.

Deputy Chris Blin. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28927401)
Deputy Chris Blin. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28927401)

But there are hopes it will be restored to previous levels in the future.

Next year £2.32m. will be available to the Guernsey Overseas Aid and Development Commission, compared with £3.08m. this year.

It comes after the OADC handed back £1m. of its budget in April to general revenue to help local initiatives during the pandemic.

Deputy Chris Blin is the new president of the OADC.

‘These are difficult times for the world as a whole and particularly so for least developed countries that often do not have the infrastructure to help cope with the Covid-19 pandemic,’ he said.

‘I am therefore delighted that, with States Members’ support, the commission should still be able to provide emergency aid relief and small grants for single year sustainable projects in 2021, as it has always done, and I am sure that some of these will be focused on the prevention and alleviation of Covid-19.’

It had been hoped that the OADC would this year launch its new large grant scheme to help bigger projects.

‘But until there is more financial certainty in regard to the Covid-19 pandemic it would be wrong to make any longer-term commitments at this stage,’ Deputy Blin said.

‘However, the commission will be looking for its budget to be at least fully restored in future years if at all possible.’

During 2021, the commission will be focusing on its other programmes, including small grants, disaster relief, community partnerships, skills partnership and supporting Fairtrade.

The commission emphasised that its decision to get less money next year should not change the States’ commitment to providing aid and support for international development in the long term.

The OADC noted that the coronavirus had shown just how connected the world is, and helping other countries to recover would also benefit the Bailiwick.

Fortunately the commission was able to continue with its funding of previously-agreed 2020 projects. Although charities have faced great difficulties on the ground in implementing some of the projects due to the Covid-19 restrictions in force in various countries, they have been able to proceed, albeit often at a slower pace and by changing their working practices. Vital work is being undertaken on sustainable projects and the commission is working closely with the charities to help ensure that they reach their objectives.

The commission has also been able to provide emergency relief awards, focusing on the prevention of Covid-19 and the hardship it has caused.

This has included supporting a water and sanitation project in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, a feeding programme in the South African townships through Guernsey-based charity Goal 50, a water and sanitation project for schools in Cambodia and a feeding programme for displaced people in Sudan.

For 2021, the commission has accepted that with the future uncertainties created by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, its proposed budget would also be reduced to a similar level as its revised 2020 Budget. If approved, this would still allow the commission to launch a small grants programme for 2021 and provide emergency relief awards next year, but not launch its first-ever large grants programme.

  • The 2019 OADC annual report has been delayed as staff have been tied up with helping with the Covid-19 response. It is hoped it will be published in early 2021.

Previous years’ reports, showing how the money is used, are available at www.gov.gg/overseasaid.

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