O'Donnell Reassures Public on Irish Aid Expenditure
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Liz O'Donnell T.D., has expressed her concern at misleading reports on the volume of Irish aid reaching the developing world. She said that these reports were based on a misinterpretation of the recent “Reality of Aid Report", a survey on trends in development in 1999 published by international aid agencies.
The Minister specifically refuted the claim that one-third of Ireland's official development assistance for 1999 - IR£54 million -was spent in the State. This conclusion appears to have been based on a misreading of a recent OECD annual development report which showed US $73 million spent on 'technical cooperation'. Technical cooperation in the OECD sense covers the full range of bilateral aid, including assistance to education, health, including HIV /Aids, water and sanitation, roads, capacity building with local institutions and services and the Minister said she wished to reassure the public that personnel costs are only a tiny part of that figure.
Indeed, the actual cost of short term consultancies involving Irish experts and the salaries of experts attached to Ireland Aid offices was less than IR£2 million, not IR£54 million as stated in recent media reports.
“The Irish aid programme," she said, "has taken a lead in working through local structures and in diminishing the need for reliance on outside experts. Local capacity building is central to the Irish approach."
"Since 1992 Ireland Aid has significantly reduced the number of experts working in the programme. In 1999 the number of Irish experts attached to Ireland Aid offices in the six priority countries in Africa (Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda and Ethiopia) was 25. This compares with 70 in the early 1990s. The number this year is down to 19", she said.Top