New ideas - old problems

Published: 06 December 2010


Even after decades of development aid, 1.4 billion people still live in extreme poverty. The idea is demoralising, but as nations learn from past mistakes, new ideas are coming forward to lead development in new directions. A strong emphasis on trade - and growth that includes everyone, even the very poorest - has appeared as one of the latest tools to lift the economies in both developing and donor nations.

Speaking at the opening ceremony for the 5th edition of the European development days, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission said: “Traditional development is not enough. International trade is a powerful engine to lift others out of poverty. I believe modern Africa is on the move.”

These new methods, however, are being forced to fight against old problems such as funding and the national interests of donor nations. The question of how to fund this boost in trade in a world crippled with debt and budget cuts remains a more controversial subject.

Yet as certain counties slash their development aid budget, new, more controversial opinions are appearing. “I believe these [Millennium Development] goals can be met: it is a moral imperative,” said Mr Barroso, “But we can no longer only look to deflated national budgets. It is important to look at new ways to fund development.”

Many, however, still believe the current method of primarily relying on the contributions of developed nations to be the answer. “Of course European government are in a difficult situation and they should explain to the taxpayers.” said Hungarian Minister Janos Hovari this morning, as he debated whether the EU really was committed to change. “Most of the citizens are selfish, and they want the money in their pockets.”

It’s an opinion that many share, with some saying that the biggest obstacle is not the amount of money they need, but the misconceptions of the public.  “One of the biggest complaints we hear about the size of the development budget is that people say people don't want to see the money go to Africa,” said Meagan Baldwin, speaking for the developmentorganisation Concord. “If people knew how little money went to development, they would feel differently.”