Postcards from New York: should we believe Zapatero on aid?
Yesterday, at the UN General Assembly, Zapatero repeated what he has been saying at every General Assembly since he became President of Spain: “We will allocate 0.7% of our GDP to ODA (overseas aid)”.
After recent spending cuts induced by the financial crisis, do you still believe him?
Over the past few years Spain has been the rich country which has increased aid spending the most, doubling it in five years until it reached 0.45% of GDP. Its leadership on issues such as hunger and gender equality have won Zapatero praise, culminating in his recent nomination as Special Ambassador to the General Secretary for the MDGs.
But other actions of the Spanish government undermine their good deeds at the UN. A few months ago the administration announced €400 mn of cuts in foreign aid, citing the financial crisis as the cause. The NGO message has been clear: no cuts and, especially: no cut in basic social services such as health or education!
At the UN yesterday Zapatero justified the cuts as “a temporary slowdown”.Our answer is that it’s impossible to “go slow” on social programmes because any step back can’t be recovered. Money taken out of education or health means children leaving schools, and people being denied access to the health care they need. Irrecoverable steps back- because children don’t come back and dead people can’t be resuscitated.
Zapatero’s urgent appeal for a bank tax to fund the MDGs has been great news for those of us (AFGH included) who have long been asking for it. Millions and millions of additional money that will make a real and equitable difference to people’s lives.
Hopefully, at the next General Assembly, Zapatero will recommit Spain to the 0.7%, target scaling up and acting upon the Spanish promise to become a major player in the aid community.
At which point, we still ask for a date and commitment specifically for 0.1% for health aid. I want to believe Zapatero can and will become a health hero.
What do you think?
Liliana Marcos is an AFGH Advocacy Officer at the The Spanish Federation of Family Planning (FPFE)