The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Charles Flanagan T.D., and the Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Cooperation, Mr. Seán Sherlock T.D., have welcomed the increase in official development assistance (ODA) as announced in today’s Budget Statement.
The Government will provide a total of €640 million for development assistance in 2016, an increase of €40 million on 2015. This includes an increase of €10 million in the Irish Aid budget, managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Underlining the Government’s strong commitment to international development and the Irish Aid programme, Minister Flanagan said:
“Combatting global poverty and hunger is at the core of Irish foreign policy. We are facing appalling humanitarian crises unfolding across Syria, Iraq and many parts of the African continent as people are driven from their homes by vicious conflict. Ireland has responded generously to the increased humanitarian needs and this year’s Budget will increase our official development aid funding to €640 million, a 7% increase in the overall budget.
“The Government’s decision to increase ODA represents the first significant increase in seven years and reflects the commitment made by the Taoiseach at the United Nations Summit in New York this September to enhance our ODA contribution.
“This year Ireland played a very significant role at the United Nations in co-facilitating, along with Kenya, the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals and it is fitting that our ODA budget would be enhanced to reflect that strong commitment by Ireland to ending global poverty and hunger. Many of our programmes target the poorest communities in Africa, helping them to build an increased resilience against future crises.
“In 2016 Ireland will continue to take a strong lead internationally at the United Nations. The Government will continue its strong partnership with the UN and NGOs which play a vital role in delivering Ireland’s policy commitments on the ground.”
Minister of State Sherlock further highlighted how the increased Irish ODA budget will enable a sharpened focus on aid programmes addressing poverty and vulnerability, and on the needs of refugees fleeing conflict, poverty and the effects of climate change:
"Ireland is having a greater presence in responding to humanitarian crises throughout the world. The deployment of Irish Naval personnel to the Mediterranean signals a new departure beyond deploying resources to Aid agencies working in specific regions.
"We are developing a greater capacity to deploy Irish personnel , be they military or civilian, in greater numbers because of the skill sets that they have. The deployment of financial resources is important but utilising key personnel in a targeted way can also have an impact.
“Since 2012, the Government has provided €100 million to aid those suffering as a result of the humanitarian crisis across Syria, Iraq and the Horn of Africa. We have also continued to provide funding for other humanitarian crises in Africa, which often do not receive media attention.
“I am proud that the Government has stabilised our funding of official development aid over the past four difficult years, and that we continue to demonstrate our commitment by substantially increasing the budget for 2016.
“We will continue to review all aspects of our aid programme to ensure that it is having the greatest possible impact on alleviating the suffering caused by humanitarian crises, and on building hope and better futures for the communities in our partner countries in Africa”.
“We will now do more. In 2016 we will increase our direct funding for the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and Africa. Ireland will play a leading role in a comprehensive response to the humanitarian crisis which is causing the refugee crisis. We will address immediate needs and root causes.”
Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas assistance programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The Government’s policy for international development, “One World, One Future”, restates the commitment to the UN target of providing 0.7% of GNP for ODA, and to making progress towards it as economic circumstances allow. It is estimated that Ireland’s ODA in 2016 will represent 0.36% of GNP, an increase on the projected 0.35% for 2015
Irish Aid is focused on long-term development to tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality. 80% of funding goes to sub-Saharan Africa, where needs are greatest. Tackling hunger is a cornerstone of our aid programme.
Ireland has a special relationship with Key Partner Countries - Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Vietnam.
Irish Aid focuses its work on supporting health, education, water and sanitation, agriculture and rural development. The overall aim is to reduce poverty and hunger.
The effectiveness of Ireland’s ODA programme is reflected in successive favourable reviews by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee and Ireland’s consistently high ranking in independent indices, such as the Commitment to Development Index and the Reality of Aid Index.