Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence díospóireacht -
Thursday, 14 Dec 2017

Irish Aid Programme Review: Discussion (Resumed)

In today's meeting, we will meet Mr. Jamie Drummond, executive director of ONE. I welcome Mr. Drummond to our meeting. We have, over the past weeks, heard from a wide variety of members of society regarding the role of Irish Aid and its potential in assisting to alleviate poverty, particularly following the historic agreement of the sustainable development goals. The format of the meeting is that we will hear Mr. Drummond's opening statement before going into a questions and answers session with members of the committee. I remind members, witnesses and those in the Public Gallery to ensure that their mobile phones are switched off completely for the duration of the meeting since, even on silent mode, they cause interference with the recording equipment in this committee room.

I remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person or body outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. If they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

I ask Mr. Drummond to make his opening statement.

Mr. Jamie Drummond

On behalf of ONE's 9 million members, the tens of thousands of ONE members in Ireland and the vibrant active community of ONE's youth ambassadors here in Dublin, an amazing bunch who I encourage the committee to meet, I thank the committee for inviting me to address this historic issue. As can be seen from my Mayo GAA wrist band, which I wear every day, not just for the purposes of this moment, I am a member of the best diaspora in the world, which is Ireland's. We have a stubborn streak in us. This band says never give up and I am sure Mayo will make it next summer. Whether Ireland gets to 0.7% in contribution is more in the committee's gift, although I cannot rely on it for the right result for Mayo on that occasion.

This submission will explore some strategic arguments for Ireland's leadership in global aid and development and outline some specific areas and sectors where Irish aid, expertise and political capital would contribute in a significant way to breakthroughs in global co-operation.

I want to make three broad points. First, despite many pressures on the budget this commitment is affordable. Second, Irish Aid gets massive results. Members should be confident of that, and it can leverage far more. Third, this investment is profoundly consistent with Irish values and is in the interests of Irish citizens. I will address each of those in turn.

First, it will not cost as much as many fear. Today, Ireland gives 46 cent a day per citizen in smart government aid. At 0.7% of GNI, it would be €1.10 per person a day. I will compare that with other countries. The UK gave €318 per person in 2016 in aid. Germany gives €295 per person annually. That is compared to the average in Ireland of €170 per person. To catch up with the leadership in Europe we would be looking at roughly doubling the current amount, which is also approximately what it would take to get to 0.7% of GNI. Let us also remember the point about the 0.7% target is that as it is linked to the performance of the economy, it is not okay to say we cannot afford it in bad times because the economy is doing badly, and then say we also cannot afford it in good times because the economy is growing too fast. I have heard that argument quite a few times.

To date, Irish Aid has helped save 13 million lives through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, a mechanism for whose creation we campaigned. It has helped to save 22 million lives through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and has helped 64 million children get into primary education through the Global Partnership for Education. If the increase from 0.3% to 0.7% was split evenly between those mechanisms, we think that could leverage more than 300 million more children being immunised by 2020, 19 million additional children completing primary school and 14 million lives being saved. I refer heavily here to the leverage Irish Aid can get also through multilateral mechanisms, many of which I have been working on for several years and can speak more about later.

I have been campaigning on these issues for a very long time. I have worked in many capital cities and with people and citizens all around the world trying to argue both for increased aid but also for other policies such as transparency, trade, investment and other forms of co-operation. I know that when a nation like Ireland steps back up in terms of quantity and quality of aid, it forces others back up and to up their game. It will stiffen the resolve of France and Germany to go back up to and stay at 0.7% and it will also help us nudge other countries such as Canada, Belgium and Italy to increase their quantity and quality of aid. It would also help us fight cuts in other countries such as, for example, in the United States where we had to fight a significant proposed cut by the President. The Senate and the House in the United States stopped those cuts. When we can point to other countries reversing a downward trajectory and going back up again it helps us with that global leverage. Ireland plays a somewhat disproportionate role in that narrative about global co-operation for development so when it goes back up, we know it helps us leverage even more with other countries. It really helps us put a spring back in the step of the global movement for co-operation and development. It may also bolster the case for a UN Security Council seat.

In terms of quality of aid, Ireland has a good reputation for quality and a great reputation for focusing on the poorest people in the poorest counties, and that is something to be treasured as it is not often the case. Those locations continue to represent the primary sources of instability and main contributors to human displacement worldwide, and are where, on current trends, the world will find the last pockets of extreme poverty in the lead up to 2030. Nations like Germany do not focus as much on the poorest in the poorest countries and while the UK often does, it is withdrawing somewhat from some of those mechanisms right now, so Ireland increasing also allows it to make the case for that increased focus through some of those mechanisms. That is a role we really wish Ireland would play more.

Investing in smart aid is in Irish interests and consistent with the best of Irish values. The world faces extraordinary threats from inequality and populism. There is food insecurity, climate change and global pandemics. There are also some fascinating 21st-century challenges such as the education emergency. I will speak a little more about that on the basis that we are more familiar with some of the other issues. There is a shortage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM, subjects in the industrialised West as we confront the fourth industrial revolution, but this shortage becomes more acute in emerging markets where learning often tends to be more by rote. That is further compounded in the poorest countries, not just by the wrong skills being taught but by children not even going to school. Moreover, because the quality of education is so poor they are essentially learning little of value when they are in school. That is particularly true for girls, especially in Africa. As leaders like Justin Trudeau, Malala Yousafzai and Melinda Gates have declared, poverty is sexist. A total of 130 million girls globally are out of school who should be in, and 500 million women cannot read or write. That is clearly a crime against them, but those women are also raising a generation who are missing out, and that is a part of what is breeding anger, resentment and inequality around the world. A decent, quality education is not only the first step on the ladder to equality; it is also part of the vaccine against instability and extremism.

Initially, leadership to solve the global education emergency requires investing in the Global Partnership for Education. The partnership has a summit on 3 February in Dakar, Senegal. We hope Ireland will be well represented and leading on that occasion. The partnership is looking for €30 million to €40 million from Ireland, but in addition we think Ireland can play a leadership role in demanding better quality education and the management of quality education outcomes by partnering with bodies like the OECD, EU and AU and by partnering with the global technology community which has found itself some element of a home here. Members will see where this is going. Given how Ireland is a home to so many of the major technology companies a deeper partnership with them on improving the quality of data and metrics in education is sought. The big problem in delivering quality education is the lack of good data and metrics to measure outcomes. That could grow into a real area of comparative advantage for Ireland and Irish Aid. Ireland could resume its place as a centre of global excellence in education. Currently, one might associate Ireland with education through the missionaries. There is a legacy in many parts of Africa from that time that is often fondly remembered but that legacy can be modernised and built upon, not just returning to what Ireland once was, the land of saints and scholars of old but of silicon, software and future-proofed skills, a beacon of open ideas, open minds, open economies and open societies when others want to get more inward, closed and opaque. We really think this is an historic opportunity for Ireland.

As someone who has worked for global social justice through movements for debt cancellation, fighting AIDS, hunger and corruption for many years all over the world – and with my roots here – I can say without qualification that Ireland is a small but mighty nation that speaks with a strong moral voice on the global stage. Many partners in the global south are aware of, and identify with, Ireland's history of fighting famine and colonial oppression. This places Ireland in an ideal position as a leader not just in fighting poverty but in increasing trade investment, improving security and fighting corruption. As such, Ireland's voice is heard in the tone of partnership not patronage.

Irish Aid has long had a special focus on partnering with Africa, which is particularly important. Africa's population is set to double by 2050 to 2.5 billion and by then, the region will have given birth to 40% of the world's youth. By then, Africa's youthful population will be ten times the size of Europe's. Ireland must invest in this demographic boom and must force others to follow for if we fail, there will be deep demographic division and instability across that region, which is at risk of extreme poverty, extreme climate and extreme ideology. That is what we call the three extremes. There will be a downside for Ireland's partners across Africa, Europe and for the global economy and security, but if we get the investments and partnerships right the region's youth can be the engine to drive inclusive growth for generations to come. This is not just the morally right thing to do, it is the economic and strategically smart thing to do. That makes it the Irish thing to do.

The international community is relying on Ireland to reach its 0.7% commitment by 2025. On top of increased resources to the poorest, Ireland can promote a forensic focus on gender, on citizen-led accountability, on improved data and innovation in areas such as measurement of nutrition and education outcomes and digital financial inclusion.

I emphasise that not only would this impact positively on Irish Aid programmes, it would also catalyse improvements in the global aid programme. The latter is currently worth approximately €143 billion a year.

Across the world, there are leaders who are capitalising on fears of an unfair form of globalisation running rampant and who threaten and close down the space for civil society, who oppress minorities and who reduce citizens' rights. Through increased quantities and a more strategic quality of aid, Ireland will not just be part of, but lead the global drive for openness, progress and a fairer, more just form of globalisation. The globalisation of human rights, democracy, peace and stability is not guaranteed. Ireland's leadership in this fight is needed now more than ever.

I thank Mr. Drummond for his important address and for covering issues such as the potential for us to expand the activities of Irish Aid and improve considerably the lives of the most disadvantaged people in so many parts of the world. Senator Bacik has another commitment at 11.15 a.m. Would she like to make a short contribution?

I thank the Chairman for letting me in early. I thank Mr. Drummond for his excellent presentation and commend him on all the great work. Like other members of the committee, I am very familiar with the work the ONE Foundation has been doing for such a long time. It is terrific. I also thank him for giving us such a succinct presentation on the need to ensure we move to 0.7%. As Mr. Drummond knows, we are carrying out an overview of Irish Aid and our overseas development aid programme generally. We have heard, as Mr. Drummond suggested, the point from Government that we cannot afford 0.7% in good times because the economy is growing too fast and it represents too much. That is putting it bluntly, albeit the Government stated it somewhat more diplomatically. I am glad Mr. Drummond made the point that it is not really a logical response. I am also glad he emphasised Ireland's leverage through multilateral mechanisms, which is something on which we have been focusing. We are looking at our overseas development aid programme in terms of both our bilateral links and what we contribute through multilateral programmes. Clearly, there is an importance attached to both. I am grateful for the presentation and I apologies for the fact that I cannot stay to hear the full responses.

Does Mr. Drummond want to say anything in particular on Senator Bacik's contribution before she has to leave for the Seanad?

Mr. Jamie Drummond

When the opportunities arise and the voting opportunities are there, we will all be doing this together. The Senator thanked me and I thank Ireland and Irish citizens and taxpayers for what they have done. I emphasise again that as Ireland goes back up, it really helps to persuade others not to cut and to go back up.

It was interesting to listen to what Mr. Drummond was saying. We know ourselves the effect Irish Aid has because we have seen the evidence at first hand on visits the committee has made to some of our partner countries in Africa. A recent visit was to Malawi and northern Mozambique. Aid is getting results and part of that is because our aid has been and continues to be untied. As Mr. Drummond says, it is focused on the poorest and on poverty reduction. We are seeing another agenda outside Ireland which is placing untied aid under threat. Aid is being used on in-country refugee situations, which badly need funding, and also on security. As such, there is a real danger the aid can be diverted in some countries. It will still go under the term "aid" but it will not be used in the way it has traditionally been used. We have to be very aware of that. Mr. Drummond mentioned USAID and there are still questions over UK aid and where it will go after Brexit. It may go to other areas such as former colonies rather than to the places it has been going.

Population control is crucial, including access to reproductive health measures for women. I know it is very difficult in some communities in some countries but it is one thing we do not talk about enough. I know it is competing with climate change and all the other issues, but it is also vital. I was delighted to hear what Mr. Drummond said about education because my disappointment with the millennium development goals was that while we successfully got more children into school, there was a question about what they were getting into. It was not quality education. Teacher training is vital there. They might not have the infrastructure, but if they have the quality teacher training, it could be excellent.

Does Mr. Drummond agree that there is sometimes a need for an independent review of aid, not just Ireland's but that of other countries too? Aid must also be about building resilience. People must get to the point where they move away from aid when the aid they have received has helped them to be resilient and independent. We planned a meeting - which we postponed - on how we would spend the 0.7% if we got to that level and on what would be the priorities.

Mr. Jamie Drummond

Aid reviews are absolutely essential. The OECD development assistant committee peer review process is very helpful and Ireland often does quite well out of that. Specific programmes are evaluated and Ireland is among the best in class at doing that. There is a body of work to which we should all pay more attention. It is about specific aid programmes of countries but also about African countries' own programmes. That is empowering young people to track and monitor results and to collect data to fill in missing data feedback loops. One of the great problems in development spending is that, unlike a market mechanism which tells one whether people are buying a product, we do not get great feedback from the clients, who are the poorest people. That is because they are marginalised and disempowered, but also because we have very bad data on them. Through modern technology, we are more able than in the past to get their direct feedback on what they need and what they think about what we are doing. We can even provide them with the opportunity to collect data on the quality of the services provided to them. There are some pilot programmes doing this which have demonstrated very good results and improved the quality of aid spending in those cases.

We argue strongly that this is a process which needs to be scaled up not only by Irish Aid but also by all global aid programmes. For example, we are trying to encourage the World Bank in this regard through its concessional lending arm, the International Development Association, IDA, which will be spending an amazing $45 billion in Africa in the next three years. That figure is on foot of an unusually large replenishment. However, at this moment in time, the bank lacks particularly innovative ideas on how to track and monitor the outcome of that enormous spend. They are just doing the same stuff they did a few years ago. The are opportunities to scale up far more innovative ways to track that money. I put it to the committee that if Ireland is going back to 0.7% and leans on some of the committee's Dublin neighbours, who include some of the most advanced data, technology and financial inclusion companies in the world, it might be possible to step into a breach, innovate and lead, not just through going from 0.3% to 0.7%, but by leading the expenditure of that $45 billion. While that sounds like I might be overstating the case, I can see an opportunity for Ireland. I strongly encourage stepping into the breach to leverage that $45 billion. People would know that Ireland did it.

I have a point on the role of parliamentarians, particularly those in Africa. They seem to be a missing feature when it comes to aid and development issues. We are very involved in our Parliament but when we visit African countries, we sometimes do not see the same engagement from their parliamentarians. They should have a role and should engage.

Mr. Jamie Drummond

Absolutely. I draw the attention of the committee to a particular example. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan mentioned the committee's visit to Mozambique. I have been paying a lot of attention to the situation there. It recently borrowed $2 billion, which then disappeared. If members do not know about the details of the case, I encourage them to look into it given that Ireland has, quite rightly, put a great deal of money into Mozambique over the years and achieved amazing results. Poverty and hunger have been halved. In the past couple of years, however, and in anticipation of natural resource revenues, things got a bit out of control. Contracts were made and a crazy PowerPoint project was put together, with some wild assumptions about the future revenues of a tuna fishing fleet. As a result, $2 billion was lent to the country without parliamentary oversight, scrutiny or knowledge.

Someone associated with the attorney general in that country allegedly signed off on something and now it has to pay back $2 billion that it did not know it had borrowed. Plainly, that is corrupt and, in our view, a crime on behalf of those who lent the money and on behalf of those who signed off on that money within the country. Both sides need to be held accountable along with those who aided and abetted that crime. The anatomy of this crime is something to which we need to pay attention.

As somebody who campaigned for debt cancellation and increased aid for Mozambique, I feel very passionately about this. I hope all the committee members will get irritated and angry about what they are hearing today, particularly if they have not heard about the matter previously. We have to stop that kind of thing happening because it undermines our aid programmes if it is allowed to go on. The missing piece was that the public accounts committee was not informed and so was not able to do its job. Across the continent, they are often not well capacitated and need more support. If the committee is thinking about technical assistant programmes or capacity building for those, that is a very good use of people's time and money.

Many members of the committee have raised the issue of 0.7% of GNI with the Minister and the Government. It is not just about reaching that target, but also about the quality of that assistance. Is Mr. Drummond concerned that we do not seem to have a structured plan to reach that target? Is that a weakness in Ireland's approach?

Mr. Drummond talked about the importance of the Irish voice and about Ireland as a mighty nation that speaks out with a strong moral voice on the global stage. Is he concerned that because of our engagement with the EU, we may be losing that voice to some extent?

Mr. Jamie Drummond

I would say that every nation's voice is quavering at the moment as a result of the threat of populism and fears about a form of globalisation that is running rampant and is patently unfair to many. We need to work together to reform many of the institutions of the global financial architecture and taxation systems; they must be reformed. That is the job of political leadership, civil society, the private sector and a good informed media debate over the next generation.

Within that, Ireland's voice has been quavering in the past decade. It is being heard more strongly now than it has been for a while. That is partly because of the economy doing a bit better and partly because of people paying attention to political developments within this country and being fascinated by them. There is evidence that the best of the old Ireland is being added to by something new and interesting, which is a global island that is very open in terms of ideas, its economy and its mind. Ireland can be an extraordinary voice for what I would call a radical variety of centrism that takes voices from the left and the right, but figures out what is pragmatically correct and then gets those that are its neighbours and that, perhaps, in some ways have broader shoulders - on both sides of the Atlantic - to do better things.

The Irish might know the director of the OMB because he is from Ireland's diaspora. Ireland might have particular sway over European processes as it does right now for various different reasons. This position of Ireland as a global island speaking boldly on the international stage will keep attracting attention and investment to this place. I encourage Ireland to use that voice more.

Does Mr. Drummond believe that because we have adopted a position of untied aid, it accentuates that moral voice? Unfortunately many countries, including some in Europe, are going in the opposite direction.

Does ONE have a campaign on trade justice issues? We are increasingly seeing in this Parliament and committee that the EU is signing deep and comprehensive agreements with countries in the developing world. People talk about a complete lack of fairness and accountability in them. There is poor democratic oversight and debate regarding these important trade agreements, certainly within EU countries but also in the countries that are actually signed up to the. I say that particularly in the context of the involvement of parliamentarians. We would argue that they have far-reaching consequences.

Mr. Drummond mentioned tax justice, debt relief and debt justice. Does ONE campaign on justice issues? Tax justice is very important in the context of development. According to Oxfam, corporations and the super-rich are cheating poor countries out of $170 billion in tax revenues every year. This fuels inequality; eight men now have the same wealth as half of the world's population. Corporations and the super-rich dodge taxes. It is the poorest who pay the price. Mr. Drummond gave the example of that deal that was there. The poor in those countries will be saddled with that debt when those politicians move on.

Has ONE commented on the latest Panama Papers? What is Mr. Drummond's view on that area? Does that form part of ONE's work?

Mr. Jamie Drummond

Absolutely. We are working on those issues. We have been working on transparency since the organisation's establishment. The original name of ONE was DATA, which was a slightly funky acronym that I was very proud of at the time. It stood for debt, aid, trade in return for democracy, accountability, transparency. Simplistic flows of cash do not get results, empower people, build capacity or enable countries in the long run to stand on their own feet and not require aid because they have achieved the goals.

Ireland once received a lot of aid, as did Germany - after the Second World War - South Korea, etc. There is a long track record of development partnership and getting countries to a point where they are then contributors through aid, trade and investment to global prosperity and security. Transparency and accountability are core to that. ONE has been part of a fantastic movement for greater transparency and accountability that has manifested itself in the brilliant work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. That march of justice and transparency is fairly awe-inspiring and is revealing things left, right and centre. Warren Buffet once said that as the tide goes out we find out who is wearing their pants. As it reveals things, citizens can have better and more-informed debate about wrong and right.

It is important for legislators to do their job by identifying things that are wrong and making them illegal. Right now, there is considerable vagueness about the position and we need to make it clear and articulate. Through the OECD base erosion and profit shifting process much of that work is being done and it is very important. I am sure Ireland is engaging very actively in that. There may well be a role for Ireland in the future.

I recently spoke with a board member, Mo Ibrahim, who is a leading light for good governance. He is a Sudanese entrepreneur who basically brought the mobile phone to Africa, which significantly contributed to African GDP growth and poverty reduction in the past decade. Many people thought the mobile phone was a luxury item until he introduced an innovative frugal bottom-of-the-pyramid business model that could deliver these mobile phones. He did that through a global business, using global investment partners. It requires organising his business through financial centres that could be called offshore. It is important to have a well-informed debate about how global business investment actually works and then create and lock down best-in-class financial centres that are transparent, clear about what they are doing and do not participate in the rapacious, piratical creation of havens and loopholes the pure purpose of which is to steal profits from other countries' economies and then tax them at a very low rate tax when they arrive in one's country.

That is wrong. A low corporate tax rate on activities within a country is absolutely the right of the citizens and State to debate and agree upon but that kind of other behaviour is being identified as wrong in public debate by increasing numbers of policymakers. Through the OECD's BEPS process, those loopholes and havens are being identified and outlawed. It is important to get on the right side of history and get ahead of that process and we strongly welcome that. If one looks at African public finances one sees that Mozambique, for example, is losing considerable potential revenue to Mauritius. Similarly, in Zambia, potential revenues that should have been taxed within that economy were lost. Our mission is to end extreme poverty in the poorest parts of the world, not to engage in a debate between Ireland, Germany and France. That said, we have parallel versions of those debates between Mauritius, Mozambique and the Cayman Islands. Similar factors are at play and we must build up the capacity of African revenue and tax administration authorities. That would be a very good use of Irish aid. Indeed, Ireland has spent smart aid very well in that area which has helped countries to increase their revenues and therefore to reduce their reliance on aid in the longer term.

What is Mr. Drummond's view on trade agreements?

Mr. Jamie Drummond

Sorry, trade is a tough one. I have spent a lot of time working on it and have less to show for those efforts than I would like. The area of domestic politics is often very difficult. I am familiar with the power of the farming lobby in the west of Ireland, for example and that makes some of the arguments difficult. In the long run, we have had some victories, including the campaign to end the export subsidies that encouraged dumping in developing markets. That is not happening anymore or if it is happening, it is happening too creatively to be found. We also created the African growth and opportunity act which has created hundreds of thousands of jobs on the continent. The biggest impediment to economic growth on the continent currently is the lack of regional trade within the region. The degree to which the post-Cotonou process, the economic partnership agreements, EPAs, etc., can open our markets in an appropriate way while also opening their markets to each other in a carefully managed way is extremely important. As Mo Ibrahim would put it, too many African economies and countries are sub-scale. They are too small. It is a security imperative that they regionally, and, possibly, even politically, integrate in the end. If one looks at places such as the Sahel, it needs far greater regional integration. If one looks at the East African Community, EAC, it too needs far greater regional integration if those economies are to work. Countries such as Rwanda and Burundi desperately need more trade and cross-border investment with their neighbours in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and then onward to the borders and global trade.

Ultimately, those trade deals are extremely important and the infrastructure to facilitate trade is extremely important too. People win and lose when trade deals happen. The losers in that process have not been looked after and invested in, particularly through education, appropriately. That has been a serial failure of global trade agreements. Promises are made that the poorest will be looked after when the restructuring happens but those promises are not kept. Then there is a backlash and the xenophobes do better in elections, but that is avoidable.

Deputy Seán Barrett is next.

Mr. Drummond is very welcome. I wish to congratulate him and his 9 million members around the world who are doing such wonderful work in helping the underprivileged and the poor. Irish people are extremely generous. When I was a young boy, there was a box in the classroom where one put money for the black babies. We were brought up with a concern for Africa and the poor. In terms of education, it actually embedded in people's minds that it is good to give. The generosity of Irish people is excellent. Things have moved on now and we do not have boxes in the classrooms any more. Ireland has become more educated but it has also become more critical. We have this influx of people from other parts of the world into our society. While fully supporting the work that Mr. Drummond's organisation does, people are, generally speaking, becoming more questioning as to what is being done with the money that is being spent because they see a lot of abuse. I am making this point because we have to be able to answer these questions. We must be able to answer them in the context of the requests being made by organisations like the ONE campaign and others for an increase the size of the aid budget. There is not enough feedback in terms of where the money is going and whether it is being targeted. When one looks at some countries, particularly in Africa, one sits back in despair. Some of the first troops we ever sent on a peacekeeping mission were sent to Congo but when I looked at the television last night, I thought to myself that it has gone backwards. This is what people see and they are wondering if we have made any progress at all. Then they begin to ask where the money is going.

The point I am making is that there is not an unwillingness to increase our percentage in terms of contributions but we must be able to answer the people that we represent. I would like to think that any money I would give would be invested in areas like education and health because we will never get rid of poverty until we educate people. That is a fact. The more ignorant one keeps people, the less capable they are of making hard decisions for themselves and so on.

I would like to hear Mr. Drummond's views on this issue. In the context of the vast sums of money spent on aid, is there any move towards placing more emphasis on education and health services as distinct from just allocating money for various projects? We do not know if those projects succeed or disappear. I hope Mr. Drummond appreciates the point I am trying to make. I am not in any way being critical. I just think it is worthwhile, when we have people like Mr. Drummond before us, to give him the opportunity to answer the questions that are put to us when we go looking for increases in aid and so on. I ask Mr. Drummond to give us a broad outline in that regard.

Mr. Jamie Drummond

First, we should thank you for thanking us but then thank you back. Ireland has given generously for generations and there is a reason for that. I was in Dugort in County Mayo recently where things happened 150 years ago that no-one here wants to see repeated anywhere. However, those type of things are still happening. The Deputy is right that one would like to think that after 50 years of global aid programmes, those problems would have been ended but humanity is a restless thing. We keep moving on and creating new opportunities and challenges for ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Basically that is a good thing but rapid population growth, innovation, shifts in geopolitics and the form of globalisation that we are living with at the moment have created a new supply chain for certain products.

For example, the key ingredient in the material used to manufacture the mobile phone that has just interfered with the sound equipment - coltan - comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo which was mentioned by Deputy Seán Barrett. However, we seem to be unable to do anything about it because we are so dependent on the resource.

The funding for Ireland's aid programme must be increased again. I ask the committee to keep fighting for quality in the programme. I will come to some of the results it has delivered. I would be completely wrong if I were to say seeking an increase in funding is all the committee has to do. Ireland needs to increase its aid funding in order that it can speak about some of the other issues such as trade, investment and fighting corruption to ensure sensible international co-operation. Reaching 0.7% of GDP is the price the country will pay not only for saving lives with the money but also for being able to speak about some of the broader issues that will make the money go much further.

I have outlined some of the specific results in going from 0.3% to 0.7% of GDP and will happily supply the committee with them in written form. They run to the tens of millions once funding is leveraged through multilateral mechanisms such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and the Global Partnership for Education. Deputy Seán Barrett asked for details in the areas of health and education. These are three such mechanisms and deliver great returns. Therefore, the committee can be incredibly confident that the money spent on these programmes will produce great returns and that they are also highly efficient because they have good inspector generals, budgeting processes, transparency and accountability levels throughout the system. When they identify corruption, it is revealed and made transparent. By the way, that often gets more headlines than when there is opacity in the system. It might be the case, therefore, that there is an appearance of more corruption precisely because we have campaigned for transparency to reveal what is in fact happening. An ironic by-product of the campaign for transparency is that sometimes it reveals the truth, which might be more corruption in some places than we would all like, but that is better than not knowing and allows us to identify the problem, go after it, solve it and reclaim the money and then reprogramme it when we have more confidence. The return on investment in such items as antimalarial bed nets, vaccines, antiretroviral drugs, TB dosages through direct observation therapy and the scaling up of nutrition programmes about very basic nutritional interventions, especially for infants for the first 1,000 days in the womb and early life, is spectacular and nowhere near maxed out. A lot more money could be spent in these areas to achieve far greater returns. We should, therefore, furnish members with the best possible responses to people who ask that question across the country in order that they could point to the results already achieved and what more could be done with the money and explain why it was not only the right thing to do morally but also in Ireland's strategic and economic long-term interests.

On a personal note, I was born in the early 1940s and have seen a huge transition in Ireland as a result of improvements in education. I lived in the days when my parents had to pay for me to attend second level school, never mind third level. In my lifetime education has been a huge answer to Ireland's many problems. I firmly believe that if one asks people for money for a given thing such as education programmes in Africa, it would be easier to get them to agree to an increase in the aid budget to 0.7% of GDP rather than simply asking them to agree to move from a figure of 0.3% to 0.7%. Does Mr. Drummond get my point?

Mr. Jamie Drummond


Anything that is project-based, the selling of the concept of contributing a certain amount of money, is far easier to sell from a politician's point of view because people can see something. I appreciate Mr. Drummond's good work and thank him for it.

In the past few weeks we have had several meetings to review the level of Irish aid. Some of the stakeholders we have met have expressed concern about the rising allocations of ODA to the multilateral organisations and, similarly, the climbing amounts being spent bilaterally and the resourcing of NGOs. Does Mr. Drummond have a view on this issue? Does he have concerns about the effectiveness of the oversight mechanisms in place within multilateral organisations? Furthermore, I do not know how familiar he is with the fact that Ireland has a number of partner countries with which we have a particular focus. Does he think we should have a broader range of partner countries with which to have particular programmes?

Mr. Jamie Drummond

On that point, I suspect Ireland has probably got the balance about right, but with a growing aid programme it could address that issue in respect of the number of countries involved. I will not deny I am a believer in the multilateral system and think we all should be. I worry about an overemphasis on bilateral programmes. One needs some such programmes in order that one has proper skin in the game on a few issues, but multilateral mechanisms are extremely important and here is the reason.

I ask the committee to think of us not from our point of view but from the perspective of the people with whom we are trying to partner and help. A good finance Minister in a given African nation does not want to have 1,354 aid missions, with several from each country and also several from many multilateral mechanisms. One desperately needs the greatest level of co-ordination the international system can offer and multilateral mechanisms are one of the key ways this co-ordination occurs. It allows for an economy of scale and a reduction of overheads when they are well managed, which is not always the case. Therefore, I encourage Ireland to put enough money into the multilateral system to demand that it be as good as it can be. Reluctant participants do not get chances to leverage the big money and, I am afraid, might then become smaller fish in a smaller pond, something they do not really want. This does not mean that all bilateral programmes should be stopped; rather, it means that one should think strategically about multilateral mechanisms. One may want to invest in NGOs in so far as they help with the strategy of leveraging multilateral mechanism money.

I alluded earlier to the breakthroughs in technology and how they were allowing us to empower young people, the girls in the secondary school whom we were trying to target with aid or the young mothers whom we were trying to reach with services. If they can provide feedback on whether the services are right, proper and good and being delivered through a technological, entrepreneurial NGO that is often a local, grassroots African organisation and highly innovative, that is a very good use of money because it helps with the strategy of leveraging multilateral mechanism money and the money the donor country has given to the government. I am less excited about allocating large amounts of money to international NGOs as a general long-term practice. That may put me at odds with others, but in the long run it should not be our objective as much. Increasingly, within such countries they do not look favourably on the big international NGO scene as its representatives arrive in the alleged 4x4s and kick up the dust. It is the local NGOs that often do the best work, are significantly under-resourced and do amazingly innovative things, especially with technology. It is the young people and the generation I mentioned in Africa who are rising up and in whom we must invest. With the centre of excellence in Dublin with the technology companies, Ireland can do something very interesting to reach out to that generation, in particular, across the continent.

As our colleague, Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, said, we were in northern Mozambique and Malawi recently where the work of Irish Aid and Irish missionaries was very impressive. Unfortunately, there is now only a small number of Irish missionaries there, but the work of Irish Aid in funding particular programmes and the work of individual members of Irish NGOs was very impressive. We met people from different countries. I always recall the phrase used by the EU ambassador to Malawi when he spoke to us. He said the footprint of Irish ODA was very impressive.

He was speaking about projects in Malawi that Irish Aid is funding.

The statistics in Mr. Drummond's presentation are startling. As Senator Bacik noted, it is very concise and comprehensive. This is the type of message that we need to get out to people living here. I never hear people cribbing about the Exchequer money that goes to Irish Aid, regardless of the challenges and the many competing demands for public expenditure. There is a great appreciation of the needs of people in those countries who live in awful circumstances. In communities where someone is working as a missionary or as a lay person, there are often fundraisers when they are home, and when there are crises, Irish people rise to the challenge and contribute handsomely to different disaster aid fundraisers. Nevertheless, as members of this committee have discussed informally among ourselves, we need to get a clearer message across to Irish taxpayers about the effectiveness of such funds and the good use to which they are put. I do not know how this can be done. Does Mr. Drummond have any particular suggestions on how the message of the scale of need in these developing countries can be conveyed, as well as our particular role in addressing the horrific challenges that exist?

Mr. Jamie Drummond

There might be opportunities to do this in 2018. As a campaigner, one usually looks to see if there are upcoming moments in the calendar where there are action-forcing moments to get a message across. There might be moments in 2018 that might be used for that. There will certainly be further crises and challenges when the media tend to cover these issues. One challenge is that the media only cover things when there is a crisis. It would be good to find a proactive way to communicate good news. It is a shame that the good news of the Jubilee 2000 campaign and the millennium development goals was not fully heard. The statistics for lives saved are extraordinary. They are amazing and they might not have happened but they happened because we got together as an international community and created the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the Global Partnership for Education, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and made the World Bank more effective. Those things are to be treasured. They could be lost, but they can also be built on. They delivered on saving millions of lives and improved millions more for people who would otherwise be in worse condition for the rest of their lives.

The problem is that social media are in our face all the time and tell us more and more dramatic, shorter, attention-grabbing messages. There is also the fact of a demographic explosion in Africa. People of Irish origin will be familiar with where there is a period when a large number of children are born, there is lower infant mortality but family planning is unchanged and there is very large population growth. That has been occurring for an extended time on the continent of Africa. There are many people in Africa who are competing over relatively scarce natural resources in some parts of the continent. We need to double down on investments in that region, and Irish Aid has led in investing in that region. It is important for the country to continue with this.

I have often thought that we ought to have some sort of envelope similar to that for babies which was referred to by the Deputy. There is probably a more 21st century way of delivering that message that does not rely on the pews in the churches as much but which does work through secondary schools. Perhaps there is a development education programme in this that Ireland can look at that would engage younger people in a more systematic way. In the UK we have something called Red Nose Day which takes place every other year which has been incredibly effective. It is a partnership between the BBC and Comic Relief in which we all participate and support. Richard Curtis did an amazing thing in creating it. Inspired by Bob Geldof's work with Live Aid, he created Sport Relief and Comic Relief. It has been incredibly effective for nearly 30 years in educating every younger person on the importance of these issues, just as the envelope which Deputy Barrett mentioned would have done. Something like that would be a very good idea, not merely to justify the aid programme but to get people to think differently about the other because, as Africa's population doubles, no matter what the circumstances, many of them will come to Europe either as economic migrants or refugees. It would be a good thing if they were to come to a place that has an open mind and with economies that are doing well. We will be senile. Demographically we will be senescent and we will need their youthful energy to do stuff. That is merely what the economic statistics tell us and the demographic data demand. Demography is destiny. Europe and Africa will have a very close 21st century. The question is what kind of closeness will it be. These kinds of investments, through the aid programme but also into people's minds and ideas about who we are, gives less succour to the xenophobes and populists who will do very well in the political climate in the next couple of decades if we do not get this right. I think we should all be quite worried if we do not make these investments, not only in aid but also in other policies such as transparency. People need to see that the system is fair and that it is delivering in countries and regionally.

I thank Mr. Drummond. I do not think it does anything similar now, but some years ago RTÉ produced a programme with Rodney Rice which was very informative. It covered different countries in Africa where Irish Aid worked.

I thank Mr. Drummond most sincerely for his presentation and his exchange with members which will be very valuable when the committee is drafting its work programme. In common with other members, I congratulate Mr. Drummond and his colleagues in his organisation on the great work in advocacy which it does in so many areas. If he could get some of the basic figures that he gave to the meeting here to a greater audience, it would be important in showing what the extra aid could achieve and what it would mean to so many people throughout the world.

Mr. Jamie Drummond

I will do that. I thank the Chairman.

I wish everyone a happy Christmas and a healthy, fruitful and successful 2018.

The joint committee adjourned at 11.58 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Thursday, 18 January 2018.