We must take much more radical action on climate change and challenge austerity globally to deliver women’s rights.
ActionAid Ireland welcomes the increase of the overseas aid budget of €177 million, bringing the budget to €1.2 billion in Budget 2023. This is an important milestone in Ireland’s commitment to reach 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI) committed to overseas aid.
Karol Balfe, CEO of ActionAid Ireland commented:
“This increase comes in the context of the cost of living and energy crisis and affirms Ireland’s commitment to addressing poverty and gender equality globally. Ireland’s aid commitment matters hugely, it is our statement of solidarity and our commitment as a country to realise human rights globally, particularly women’s rights. This allows Irish Aid to continue its vital focus on addressing hunger, conflict, humanitarian need, as well as funding long term development projects.
“It also comes in the context of the climate emergency that is wiping out communities from Bangladesh to Pakistan to the Horn of Africa and leaves Global South countries drowning in debt.
“The commitment in the Budget to the Horn of Africa of €30million is particularly welcome. The east and horn of Africa countries represents the epitome of this growing climate and humanitarian crisis. At least 36.1 million people have now been affected by the drought which began in October 2020. This crisis has devastating consequences for women and girls in particular, rolling back hard-fought wins on gender equality and resulting in a rise in child marriages, gender based violence and overall undermining women’s rights.
“We are at a dangerous moment in relation to climate crisis- and while we see the impact of this more and more in Europe, countries in the Global South are literally fighting for their survival. Despite this, we’re seeing nothing like the scale of political reaction we need to- in this Budget and beyond. The costs of climate disasters are going to continue to spiral, and that lower income countries are being stretched to breaking point.
“While the increase in aid is welcome and the increase in climate financing of €25 million, we are not seeing real urgency in relation to domestic climate actions. There is a risk that in our response to the energy crisis that we go backwards in switching from fossil fuels. For international cooperation, any climate financing should be additional to the overseas budget, rather than part of it.
“Ireland could also make a strong commitment to Loss and Damage- funding that aims to compensate developing countries for the destruction being wrought by the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis the world’s poor played little role in creating.
“Finally, women’s rights globally are being undermined by austerity measures, imposed by the International Monetary Fund. Such policies demand a cut to public services which further erodes women’s rights. There is a risk that the benefit of money from Ireland’s aid budget could be undermined by such policies. Ireland must challenge this and ensure this doesn’t happen.”
Habiba is a 62-year-old farmer who lives in Somaliland. She farms mangoes, pawpaws, onions and lettuce, among other crops. Habiba used to rely on rain to water her crops but with almost no rainfall she has had to minimise her water usage. She said: ‘‘[Because] of the lack of rain we are not farming anything, we just kept some cereal seeds aside so that in case it rains we can grow a little. This year there is no income, zero income.’ Photo credit: Khadija Farah/ActionAid