An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion
Sunday, 15 May 2011
In a House of Lords debate on extreme povery in the developing countries The Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, said that more foreign aid should be channelled through faith based organisation. He cited the reason for this as being because non-state providers are 'often the most closely involved in the wellbeing of the poorest people and are to be found where government cannot reach'. The Bishop also called for more recognition of the role and contribution of faith communities in development and formore partnerships to be developed with aid agencies.
It is refreshing to hear a faith based slant on the debate on foreign aid. Following the death of Osama Bin Laden the debate has centred around the role of foreign aid in a political context. The true meaning of 'foreign aid' seems to have been lost in translation. The original wisdom of foreign aid was to reduce poverty and lower global levels of inequality. Along the way foreign aid became tied to economic conditions of the recipient country and it was abundantly clear that countries with bad economic conditions tended to suffer from civil unrest. This threw into question the role of foreign aid especially if the recipient country concerned was at odds with the donor country.
Perhaps an enhanced role for faith organisations will enable them (eg Christian Aid) to act as a neutraliser to the politics vs foreign aid debate. While millions around the world go hungry and die politicians and voters alike have become cynical and mistrustful of foreign aid but continue to use it as a political tool. Even this strategy hasn't really worked if we look at Pakistan. If we strip away the political skin of foreign aid then we will be left with the notion of sharing-giving aid will help the poor survive and live. Let that be the first objective. The second objective should be about helping these poverty stricken people rebuild their lives with economic assistance. Faith based organisations have a crucial role to play in the quest to cure global poverty.