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Oxfam report says New Zealand’s aid not going where it is needed most

The New Zealand government’s aid in developing countries is not going to projects where it is needed most, says Oxfam, according to a new report published by agency today.

Less than two percent of aid spending went to activities focused solely on climate adaptation, according to the latest data in the report, and almost half have no gender equality component, despite a long-standing commitment from the government to mainstream gender across its aid programme.

With the global pandemic threatening to put progress against poverty back by decades, the report says now more than ever New Zealand needs to expand its aid budget. Aid remains a crucial tool for governments to use to make sure everyone, everywhere has their fundamental needs met for safety, good health and economic security.

The report, called Collective Resilience: New Zealand’s aid contribution in times of inequality and crises, is the first external review of New Zealand’s aid programme in over two decades.

Oxfam New Zealand’s Communications and Advocacy Director and co-author of the report, Dr Joanna Spratt, said: “While New Zealand’s aid contribution has some firm foundations, there is room for substantial improvement, including in climate action, gender justice and addressing inequality. Aid has a critical role to play in fighting both inequality and poverty, as the world faces looming challenges due to a pandemic, global recession, and climate destruction.

“We are yet to witness the full impact of the coronavirus in developing countries across the world. What is certain is that the spread of the virus will be catastrophic for people already living in poverty. Meanwhile, climate breakdown remains a significant challenge to ensuring all people, everywhere, can survive and thrive.”

Collective Resilience outlines six principles for improving both the quality and quantity of New Zealand’s aid, along with a suite of recommendations, for example, expanding its focus on climate action. Currently, despite New Zealand’s focus on giving aid to the Pacific region where climate breakdown has been declared the region’s greatest threat, we rank just 18 out of 29 OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) peers for aid contributions to climate adaptation.

Spratt said: “In a world where humanity is more connected than ever before – a fact the coronavirus pandemic starkly shows – aid is a crucial area of government expenditure to invest in the wellbeing of all people. Together we can navigate a path forward that puts people and planet first, and New Zealand’s overseas aid has an important role to play in forging this path.”

For further information and interviews please contact:

Kelsey-Rae Taylor | Kelsey-Rae.Taylor@oxfam.org.nz | +64 21 298 9854