NGOs are 'not the only route for aid'

Mathew Little

Aid to developing countries should not go solely through NGOs, Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development, said last week.

In the second of a series of speeches setting out ideas in advance of a white paper on aid in the summer, Benn defended the direct funding of governments in poor countries.

"There are those who say that giving government support is wrong, that it's like writing a blank cheque encouraging corruption and inefficiency and that our aid is best spent though NGOs," he told an audience at the Royal African Society.

"But even the most enthusiastic supporters of civil society recognise that ignoring governments and creating parallel systems is not the long-term solution to corruption," he added.

In 2004/05, £233m of the Department for International Development's total bilateral aid budget of £2.14bn went through UK civil society organisations.

Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, said: "We need to recognise the potential of international NGOs working with local NGOs."

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