Pledge to secure better value for reduced Irish Aid budget


THE NEED for greater accountability and development programmes which offer better value for money have been highlighted by Minister for State Joe Costello at the launch of Irish Aid’s annual report.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs was upbeat yesterday despite serious reductions in the level of funding for Irish Aid since the recession started in 2008. In 2012, the Republic’s aid budget will be €639 million, nearly €20 million less than it was in 2011 and close to €300 million less than in 2008.

While the Irish Aid report highlights some of the results it has achieved in reducing hunger and poverty in the world’s poorest countries, its focus has shifted and more emphasis is being placed on improving the efficiency and transparency of its programmes.

The agency is also stressing its role in “supporting governments to strengthen their national systems in areas including justice, law reform, financial management and the holding of elections”.

Mr Costello said the development agency was accountable to the Irish people “for the investments we are making and for the results that are being achieved.

“I am acutely aware that in these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever to achieve maximum value for money and to demonstrate our results clearly to the public.”

Among the key success stories highlighted by Irish Aid is a report from Ethiopia where the number of children dying before the age of five has almost halved since 2000.

In Malawi, which suffered severe food shortages less than a decade ago, Irish Aid support for the production of sweet potatoes has contributed to halving vitamin deficiency among children under the age of five.

In Mozambique, the number treated for HIV rose from 170,000 in 2009 to more than 250,000 in 2011, most of them women.