Women beneficiaries with aid relief in West Bengal. Credit: Anisa Draboo/Oxfam
Aid and debt relief are critical to help poor countries and communities escape poverty.

Aid effectiveness

Two big issues seriously affect poor countries’ chances of beating poverty. One is the amount of aid they get. The other is the amount of debt they repay.

More and better aid

Poverty will not be eradicated without an immediate and major increase in international aid.

However, there is an emerging consensus on aid effectiveness – without far-reaching changes in how aid is delivered, it won't achieve maximum benefits.

It should no longer be conditional on recipients promising economic change like privatizing or deregulating their services, cutting health and education spending, or opening up their markets. Aid should support poor countries' and communities' own plans and paths out of poverty.

At the same time, recipient countries need to have people and policies in place so that the aid is used in an honest and transparent way. Aid will work if people dealing with it both in the north and the south are made accountable.

Aid also needs to focus better on poor people's needs. This means more aid being spent on areas such as basic health care and education.

Debt relief

Making sure developing countries' un-payable debts are cancelled is just as important as ensuring they get the aid money they need.

Across the world, impoverished countries are being forced to repay debts far bigger than original loans, instead of spending precious cash on essentials like schools and hospitals.

Cancelling debt can make a real difference.

Since Zambia’s debt was cancelled in 2005, its government has been able to introduce free health care for people in the countryside – removing fees that once stopped millions getting care they needed.

And education got a boost too – extra funds made available by debt relief also paid for 4,500 badly-needed new teachers.

Millions of children in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Malawi are now going to school, thanks to a combination of debt relief and aid.

What we can do – with you

Our Health and Education campaign demands that world leaders cancel poor countries’ debts, and increase foreign aid, to help people get good quality health services, schools, colleges, and adult education.

Rich nations made some progress on these issues at the G8 Summit held in 2005. They promised to cancel some of the debts of 42 countries, and give an extra $100 billion in aid by 2010 – half of it to Africa.

G8 leaders have still not agreed on clear plans on how to make good on their promises. We’re pressing them to make sure they do.

Read more

Read some examples of successful development projects made possible through international aid.

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