Helping tackle Africa's food crisis the right thing to do, Priti Patel says


Providing financial help to tackle hunger and drought in Africa is "in Britain's interest", the International Development Secretary Priti Patel has said.

Ms Patel said it was "the right thing to do" to contribute cash to help the most impoverished communities in the continent, amid calls from some of her Conservative colleagues to scrap David Cameron's commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on international aid.

She told the Independent: "As we enter 2017, over 37 million people across Africa are without food.

"Families face losing their homes and livelihoods as the effects of widespread drought worsen.

"That is why 'Global Britain' is leading the response to the escalating crisis by providing life-saving food, water and shelter.

"Tackling the global challenges of our time such as drought and disease which fuel migration, insecurity and instability is the right thing to do and is firmly in Britain's interest."

Earlier this month Ms Patel has pledged to crack down on "profiteering" by foreign aid contractors amid concern at the way UK development funds are spent.

Appearing before the Commons International Development Committee on December 19, Ms Patel said she wanted to see full transparency by contractors - including in relation to salaries and expenses of senior staff.

Her comments follow the disclosure that she had written to a number of suppliers giving them 30 days to provide details of their spending and how they comply with conflict-of-interest regulations.

She has also warned that aid funding to global organisations could be cut unless they give the taxpayer better value for money, saying that the £4 billion the UK donates to multinational organisations like the World Bank needs to be scrutinised more thoroughly.

Ms Patel told BBC Radio 4's Today programme in October: "We have to make sure that our aid works in our national interest and also that it works for our taxpayers. Much more openness, much more transparency and much more accountability."

It was confirmed in last year's Spending Review that overseas aid spending would increase in line with the Government's commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on aid.

Then-chancellor George Osborne also stated aid spending would be "reshaped" to support the Government's objectives, including promoting global peace and security and strengthening resilience and response to crises.