Why we're #ProudofAid On Monday 13 June, parliament will debate a petition that seeks to end the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international aid. Here’s why we at Send a Cow are #ProudofAid. They say that charity begins at home. That’s why so many people question the UK’s international aid budget during this time of austerity. For hard-up families here, it certainly seems like an easy solution: cut the budget – which, it is claimed, is being wasted anyway – and redirect that cash towards underfunded services in the UK, such as our own NHS. But we at Send a Cow disagree. We think the world is our home. How UK Aid is making a difference We don’t always agree with how the UK Aid budget is spent; in particular its support for intensive agriculture. We recently joined calls for the EU parliament to adopt a report condemning the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, and are encouraged to see that it has now done so. But the New Alliance is not the whole story. There is so much good done by UK Aid too. We’ve received funding from UK Aid for our work with smallholder farmers in Uganda and Ethiopia. Here are just a few points we’ve learned: 1. It works. Within just three years, smallholder farming families in our UK Aid match funded programme in Ethiopia were eating balanced, nutritious diets – even during the hungry months. They had a surplus to sell, increasing their incomes on average four-fold. They were saving money to tide them over any shocks such as floods or droughts. One farmer, Dureto Toga, told us: “Before Send a Cow our life was not a good life. It has changed so much.” 2. It lasts. Our work gives families and communities a kickstart out of poverty. We only work with them for three years – then they have the skills and the means to go it alone. The sustainable development goals aim to see an end to absolute poverty by 2030. All of us working in aid would love to make ourselves redundant! Farmer Abebech Mendedo said, “I realised that the main reason for our poverty was lack of knowledge on how to utilise our own resources. We are confident that we will never come back to our previous poverty.” 3. It’s cost-effective. That Ethiopia programme cost just £30 per person per year, for three years. The return on investment was excellent: farmers were making more money than the programme cost by its final year. The profits will go on growing even now the project has ended, especially as those farmers will pass on their skills to neighbours so they can benefit too. 4. It’s our responsibility. Those Ethiopian smallholders are suffering the effects of climate change – caused largely by the fossil fuels burned in the industrialised, developed world. That’s what’s worsening the natural El Nino phenomenon, currently causing drought, crop failure and hunger in much of Africa. 5. It’s for our benefit. Tackling social and economic inequality wherever it occurs is crucial to address instability, terrorism, and migration. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said on Africa Day on 25 May, what is good for Africa is good for the world. Support from the public And how about the claim that we simply can’t afford aid at this time of austerity in the UK? The majority of Send a Cow’s funding comes not from the UK Government but from ordinary people, many of them not – in UK terms – wealthy. We get donations from children who have saved up their pocket money, and pensioners who have donated their time to bake a cake for sale. We’re humbled by your support. And we’re also humbled by the farmers in Africa who pass on the support we give them – skills, seeds, livestock – to their neighbours, so our work goes on multiplying. So that’s our final point: aid brings out the best in us. Our thanks go to all of you who have shown fellowship, compassion, and a natural instinct to help those in need and create a fairer and more equitable world.