Over 50 Australian aid agencies are bracing for cuts to aid programs as the Treasurer brings the axe down on Australia’s aid budget, according to the Australian Council for International Development.
$1 billion is set to be slashed from Australia’s aid budget in the upcoming Federal Budget and aid agencies are preparing for the worst, said the ACFID Executive Director, Marc Purcell.
“For over 40 years, Australian Governments have supported the work of Australian aid agencies, alongside generous donations from the Australian public,” Mr Purcell said.
“Last year, this support enabled aid agencies to improve the lives of nearly 20 million people, the majority of which are women and children, in 50 of the world’s poorest countries.
“Australian aid agencies work with around 1800 partner organisations in developing countries – governments, community organisations and private sector organisations. Relationships and programs will be damaged by the largest ever cuts to the Australian aid budget.
“ACFID calls on the Government to keep its election commitment to prioritise aid allocations towards non-government organisations delivering on-the-ground support for those most in need.
“Projects under threat include eye health programs in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as well as projects targeting women’s safety and security, civil and political participation, and job creation in places such as Timor Leste, PNG, Cambodia and Myanmar.
“Health services for pregnant women, mothers and infants benefiting 22,000 people in the highlands of PNG could also be affected by the withdrawal of funding. This is the human cost of these unfair cuts.
“Other programs delivered by Australian aid agencies are also facing budget cuts. These include programs being delivered for 403,380 people in Kenya, Senegal, South Sudan and Uganda delivering education, health, child protection and economic opportunities.
“An education project in South Sudan that constructs and equips schools, encourages parents to enrol their children in school (particularly girls), and builds the capacity of teachers has already been cancelled.
“Projects that build local businesses and improve agriculture practices for food security across East and South-West Asia may also have to be wound back.
“HIV/AIDS projects in India empowering and protecting children, youth and vulnerable groups in Delhi as well as youth and adolescent health projects in Lebanon may have to be axed.
“3000 women and 1300 men benefitting from projects in the Solomon Islands that deliver economic empowerment may no longer receive assistance.
“3927 people are likely to be affected if economic empowerment, food security, maternal and child health, irrigation and energy infrastructure and disability projects in Afghanistan are cut.
“The Treasurer’s cuts to the aid program are ungenerous, unfair and unthinking.
“The OECD has revealed just how ungenerous the Australian Government has become in its recent report on aid expenditure.
“These aid budget cuts are unfair because they hit the poorest people the hardest.
“They are in contrast to the generosity of 2 million Australians who donate to Australian aid agencies.
“They are unthinking because they harm Australia’s international reputation and undermine Australia’s efforts to promote security and stability in our region,” Mr Purcell said.
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