Why the Daily Mail’s petition is wrong and we are all in this together


February 12th, 2014

Wherever you live in the world, having your home or land flooded can be utterly devastating. The victims of the floods in the UK deserve our help but the Daily Mail is wrong to target the UK’s international aid budget to provide it.

Their petition calling on the Prime Minister to divert some of the aid budget to help victims here is in danger of robbing poor Peter to pay Paul. Climate change makes no distinction between extreme weather here and other countries around the world. We are all in this together.

Floods currently threaten thousands of people in Zimbabwe, Burundi and Bolivia. When communities there are flooded they not only lose their possessions, homes and livelihoods but they are also at risk from cholera and other water borne diseases.

Given the Daily Mail’s rhetoric and petition it is easy to forget that international aid accounts for just 0.7% of our GDP.

I am proud that the UK’s three main political parties support the 0.7% target and want to help the poorest people in the world.  Their leadership is needed now more than ever.

Last year our supporters met the Prime Minister and praised him for meeting the 0.7% target, a process which took over 20 years to achieve. In a letter he sent to us the Prime Minister said “Thank you very much for your kind words on 0.7%. It is something I am proud of. We need groups like Practical Action – and you personally – to be out there making the case for it”.

David Cameron meeting Practical Action supporters 20 September (1)

That is why we have decided to speak out now.

Last year we received £2.83 million from the international aid budget and used it to help nearly one million poor and vulnerable people.

In the UK the cost of the clean-up and compensating people for the loss and damage will run into many millions of pounds. But as a relatively rich country, it is a bill we can afford to pay without the need to take money away from some of the poorest people in the world.

Countries like Nepal and Bangladesh were highlighted in the Daily Mail’s article. People there do not have insurance policies and unlike people here there is no government support available to help them. But they, like the victims in Somerset and along the Thames, know only too well what it is like to lose everything. I know because I’ve been to both countries and seen the floods there for myself.

In Nepal we have put in place early warning systems to alert people when the water level rises. There I met Parbati Gurung, 45, a widow who regularly checks our water gauge station 2 km north from Chisapani. If there is a danger of a flood she lets people along the river bank know by texting them and a siren is blown three times.

In Bangladesh I’ve seen how with funding from the international aid budget Practical Action has helped protect many local communities by working with them to build bunds around villages and through innovative technologies like floating gardens has helped people feed themselves during the floods. We have also worked with communities to build flood-proof homes and raise wells to protect vital drinking water.

In the short term our work in Nepal and Bangladesh has helped to save hundreds of lives. In the long term, it means thousands of people’s lives are not devastated every time there is a disaster.

It is something I believe the British taxpayer and many Daily Mail readers would be very proud of.

 

 

One response to “Why the Daily Mail’s petition is wrong and we are all in this together”

  1. Roger Norton Says:

    Hello,

    perhaps a counter-petition (through avaaz – https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?source=fp – for example) would be in order?

    Regards,

    Roger Norton

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