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The responsibilities UK/Britain (MEDC’s) has in relation to developing countries

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Britain is known to be a world superpower. Compared to most countries in the world the standard of living is much better. This is proven by the fact that its quality of life indicators are better than most countries i.e. the UK’s life expectancy is 78.2 years compared to Botswana which is 32.3 years. Therefore as Britain is a super power, most people believe that Britain should be one of the highest benefactors of aid to demolish poverty.

The greatest numbers of poor people live in South Asia, but the highest proportion of poor is in the Sub Saharan Africa. Therefore Britain should focus much of its aid to these parts of the world. The definition of aid (in these terms) is, the general term for the help provided by developed nations to the developing nations (Third World). More specifically, aid refers to the net flow of official development assistance provided by governments, international agencies, and public institutions of the industrialized countries.

The number of people living in absolute poverty is 1.2 billion in 2001. In 2000 the UK was the fourth largest donor, giving $4501 million (about £3007million) out of the global total of $53 billion. In 1997 only 0.26% of the UK’s GNP was spent on aid. In 2001 it had increased to 0.31%. This amounts to a 45% increase in aid spending since 1997, but in the opinion of many people, it is still not enough.

MEDC’s (more economically developed countries) have assured that they will have world poverty halved by 2015. Other Development goals include; getting all children into primary school schooling and breaking the spread of HIV/AIDS. Britain itself has agreed that they will donate 0.7% of its GNP to ODA (the sum of all disbursed grants and concessional loans, including the value of technical help and cooperation, intended to promote economic development and welfare). The world’s largest donor is Japan. In 1999 it provided $15.3 billion in aid, followed by the United States at $9.1 billion, whereas the European Union gave only $5 billion.

I think that Britain has a responsibility to, in the short term, help poor countries when they suffer from natural disasters, food shortages or war. In the long term, they should improve living conditions and teach them to make use of their own resources.

The reasons why LEDC’s (less economically developed countries) need aid is, to try to improve the standard of living, which often leads to receiving or borrowing money for large development schemes, such as building an international airport or improving hospital facilities. Another reason is many poor countries need to receive or borrow money in order to buy goods from the MEDC’s, which can mean these countries can fall heavily into debt. Also many LEDC’s suffer as a result of either natural disasters (i.e. volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis), or human inflicted disasters (i.e. war, global warming).

There are three main types of aid; bilateral aid, multilateral aid and voluntary aid. Bilateral aid is, aid provided by a donor country to a recipient country government. This also contains financial assistance for development projects granted to individual national institutions. More than half of total bilateral aid is provided to fund specific projects, while 10 per cent takes the form of food aid and 2 per cent is given as disaster relief. Multilateral aid is, aid provided by multilateral organizations (for example, the World Bank) and other international institutions. The term also applies to donor government donations to such organizations for use in, or on behalf of, developing countries. Voluntary aid is, aid provided for development and support programmes by (non-governmental) voluntary aid organizations with charitable status, which were raised from a voluntary and private foundation. About 75 per cent of all official aid recorded by the DAC is bilateral aid.

Some people think that the UK and other MEDC’s have a responsibility to terminate the debts many LEDC’s have to pay to the MEDC’s. The debt problems was caused when countries initially borrowed money (for war, infrastructure etc), which turned into loans and huge amounts of interests has forced many countries to decrease their fundings for vital public services such as health and education. For LEDC’s the debt total rises to about £1566 per second on average. Furthermore for every £1 given to LEDC’s as help in aid, more than £13 return to the MEDC’s in debt repayments!

The main organisations fighting for world equality are: Drop the debt, Oxfam, Christian aid, World development movement, Jubilee and OAFOD. A problem is many people are critical of abroad aid. They argue that donor governments use it to further their political and financial interests. It is approximated that as much as 30 per cent of aid fails to reach its intended target, being consumed by lofty administrative costs or diverted immorally into private bank accounts.

Overall I think that Britain have a major responsibility in giving aid to developing countries. This is because, many MEDC’s, like Britain, initially destroyed much of the LEDC’s land such as when Britain seized India as a colony, which as a result split India from Pakistan.

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