Money may be tight, but 'smart aid' to developing countries can really work | Larry Elliott

From Aid | The Guardian Sun Jan 13 2013, 15:53:00

Far from creating dependency, strategic assistance from the west can help developing countries to help themselves

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Britain hosted the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July 2005. Life was sweet when the leaders of the world's most powerful western economies pledged themselves to debt relief and aid to help poor countries. Growth was strong, asset prices were rising, and the financial crisis was two years away.

In 2013 it will, once again, be Britain's turn to chair the G8, but the mood will be quite different when leaders meet at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland this summer. The talk will be of fiscal cliffs, the euro's struggle for survival, high energy prices and the struggle to ensure financial solvency. One thing is certain: there will be no repeat of the commitment to double aid within five years. Money is tight.

Back in 2005, the pressure on Tony Blair came from only one source: the Make Poverty History (MPH) coalition that saw Gleneagles as an opportunity to cajole the G8 into making binding pledges on development. David Cameron has a more difficult task this year - for in addition to the lobbying by MPH2, he is coming under fire from aid sceptics who challenge the logic of a government that is cutting public spending at home massively increasing public spending abroad.

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