Government defends foreign aid as MPs prepare to hear from minister


Overseas aid provides good value for money, the Government has insisted, after it was reported that an Ethiopian girl band is getting £5.2 million in funds to develop a media platform.

The five-member group, Yegna, which aims to enhance the role of women through music and performance, will use some of the grants to develop a radio drama, according to the Daily Mail.

The money is part of £16 million awarded to the Girl Hub project, now rebranded Girl Effect, which seeks to change how 'girls are valued and perceived in Ethiopian society', according to the newspaper.

Foreign aid
Foreign aid

The Department for International Development (DfID) told the Press Association: "UK aid in Ethiopia is combating forced child marriage, violence, teen pregnancy, migration and school drop-out, which are holding a generation of young Ethiopian women back.

"In the Amhara region the UK's work on girls and women, including Girl Effect, has averted or delayed marriage for nearly 40,000 girls.

"All programmes are kept under review to ensure they are helping the world's poorest and delivering value for UK taxpayers."

The controversy comes as International Development Secretary Priti Patel appears before a Commons committee on Monday to discuss the aid budget.

The DfID also defended its links with the World Bank after The Times reported Britain is "dumping" billions of pounds in overseas aid money into trust funds in an apparent attempt to meet the annual target of spending 0.7% of GDP on help for the developing world.

The newspaper said the UK, which spends some £12 billion a year on aid, had channelled £9 billion into trusts in the past five years, with the World Bank charging Britain £241 million in administration fees during that period.

A DfID spokesman said: "The World Bank has the reach and expertise to reduce poverty around the world and boost developing economies; but it must work harder and smarter to help end aid dependency and achieve maximum impact for UK taxpayers.

"Britain is challenging the bank to focus its support on those who need it most, ensuring the world's poorest are not blocked from the opportunities they need to stand on their own two feet.

"That is why we are using our position in the bank to push for significant reforms that work for Britain and the world's poorest."