April 26, 2010

Scriptoria Blog

More penny-pinching on development aid?

We at Scriptoria were disturbed to read recently that it looks as if the rich western countries are in danger of breaking their pledge to double aid flows to the world’s poorest countries.The Guardian was reporting the OECD’s 2010 annual assessment of development assistance, which said that less than half the extra £25bn promised at the Gleneagles G8 summit in 2005 would be delivered on current plans.

Let’s hope we’re not reverting to the same old penny-pinching and the same old betrayal of the developing world.

Interestingly, the story on the OECD’s website is headed “Development aid rose in 2009 and most donors will meet 2010 aid targets”, which at first sight seems to contradict The Guardian. In fact, The Guardian’s story is there in the OECD’s copy; you just have to work to find it in the blizzard of facts, figures and words.

The OECD’s story is not wrong and the organisation’s expertise is beyond doubt. But it is a good example of how an expert overview awash with technical detail can sometimes mask the real stories that people need to hear.

To read The Guardian’s article, visit http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/14/west-break-g8-aid-pledge-oecd.

To read the OECD’s article, visit http://www.oecd.org/document/11/0,3343,en_2649_34487_44981579_1_1_1_1,00.html.

All the best
The Scriptoria team

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April 23, 2010

Scriptoria Blog

Election fever

With the UK general election well under way, the Scriptoria team was naturally eager to find out what the three main political parties say in their manifestos about international development.Alas, the Conservatives don’t mention it at all and the Liberal Democrats, while promising to spend 0.7% of GNP on aid, can only add that “we will work through the EU to deliver a global deal on climate change”.

By contrast, Labour has a whole page about it. The party says it will lead an international campaign to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track, that it remains committed to spending 0.7% of national income on aid from 2013, and that it will enshrine that commitment in law early in the next Parliament.

“We will fight corruption, investing more to track, freeze and recover assets stolen from developing countries,” says Labour.

Of course, what political parties say in their manifestos and what they do when they get into power can be very different things, so we can only hope that, whatever the colour of the next government, international aid and development plays a significant role in its policy.

All the best
The Scriptoria team

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Scriptoria Blog

Hurry up and get writing!

If you want to enter The Guardian International Development Journalism Competition, you’d better hurry up because the closing date is 30 April.

Here at Scriptoria, we think it’s a great idea - anything to keep international development at the forefront of public debate. It’s the second year The Guardian, one of the UK’s leading quality newspapers, has run the competition, which is sponsored by the UK government’s Department for International Development.

We were a little disappointed, however, to see that only writers resident in the UK are allowed to enter. Perhaps it’s a sign of these cash-strapped times, but considering how proud The Guardian is of its international readership (especially its website), we think the competition should be open to writers from around the world.

The problem with limiting entries to UK-based writers, even if some of them are originally from elsewhere, is that you inevitably end up with a view through a rich nation’s lens. Shouldn’t The Guardian be helping to build a cadre of quality journalists in developing countries prepared to speak the truth to authority?

To enter The Guardian International Development Journalism Competition, visit
http://www.guardian.co.uk/journalismcompetition

All the best
The Scriptoria team

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