Worrying signals from the new government about aid

Published 2022-10-24

It is welcome that the new government values ​​the work that we and all other organizations in civil society do by redistributing the aid from multilateral organizations to civil society as they see our role in the aid reaching its goals.

From our perspective, we see that funds from Sida have, among other things, enabled work where we, together with local partners, develop local communities by contributing research and international experience. For example, our partners in Tanzania were pushy when local governments in the Mbulu region introduced fundamental restrictions on alcohol sales. It clearly reduced the problems of domestic violence and sexual abuse, which increased the safety of women and children.

I see it as very positive that Kristersson clearly points out issues of health, democracy and the work with girls' and women's rights and opportunities as priorities in his government declaration, because alcohol plays a big role in all these areas. Alcohol abuse causes the death of three million people each year according to World Health Organization data. It is more than Malaria and TB combined. Every third woman is exposed to violence in intimate relationships during her lifetime. We know that the connection between alcohol consumption and violence is strong.

The sobriety movement will be able to contribute to the work with these important areas. Here, the IOGT-NTO movement together with our principals is an important resource.

The government declaration shows two parallel tracks in the focus of Sweden's future aid policy. One track is about focusing on five thematic priorities:

  • humanitarian aid
  • poverty alleviation and health initiatives for the most vulnerable
  • democracy aid to human rights defenders and democracy fighters
  • expanded and streamlined climate aid
  • women's and girls' rights and opportunities

As I mention above, I welcome these priorities.

I am concerned about the second track though. Where aid funds are to be used in migration policy and used to get people to leave Sweden. How these two tracks are to be combined in future state budgets and bills, we need to wait for word on.

When the government also clearly cuts the aid budget by scrapping the one percent target, Sweden's ambitions for global development issues are lowered. Instead, the aid framework is to be reduced by 1,4 billion for next year and then frozen at this level for two years. It corresponds to more than the urgent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Ethiopia, the Syrian crisis and Afghanistan combined.

The accruals that the one percent target entailed thus disappear, and inflation further erodes aid. At the same time, I am grateful that the government sets a ceiling of 8% for the settlements, not least in light of the great support Sweden gives to Ukraine. That the government announces that this support will not be paid with the aid budget is a good thing.

Our new minister for aid, Johan Forssell, has previously shown a commitment to children's health, including through child obesity and wanting to increase children's mobility. Bringing the importance of preventive measures and a public health-based policy that effectively reduces the problems with alcohol in the world into the global development will be important in the future work. We will be active in work where public health comes into conflict with the profit interest of the alcohol industry.

The Minister for Development is an experienced politician with several important assignments in the Riksdag behind him. Having a minister with political competence is important, but it would have been desirable if he had been able to spend all that competence and time on aid alone. The fact that he now has to allocate his time and above all his attention also as Minister of Foreign Trade at the same time as the government is so clear that aid is being reduced is worrying.

At the same time, I wish him the best of luck in his important mission and look forward to a good collaboration.

Johanna Daven
Secretary General IOGT-NTO movement