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Sensational 70’s

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Sensational 70’s

4:00 pm 7:00 pm


Britain imposes ‘devastating’ 85% aid cut to UN family planning programme

Written by on 28 April 2021

The UK has imposed a “devastating” cut of about 85% in aid to a family planning programme in the world’s poorest nations – money that could have helped prevent 250,000 maternal and child deaths, Sky News can reveal.

Britain is the biggest donor to the initiative, run by the United Nations sexual health and reproductive agency (UNFPA), which also seeks to reduce unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions.

But an initial commitment to spent £155m this year – cash that had been expected and plans for spending it made – has now been shrunk to just £23m, according to the UNFPA.

It is estimated that about £130m – the amount that is being cut – for the UNFPA Supplies Programme would have helped to prevent around 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions, UNFPA told Sky News.

The scheme provides vital supplies such as condoms and other forms of contraceptive, as well as maternal health medicines.

“This will have a devastating impact on women, girls and their families across the world,” the agency said.

UNFPA – which stands for United Nations Population Fund – is the latest organisation to reveal the impact of a decision last November by Boris Johnson’s government to reduce the UK’s spending target for overseas aid to 0.5% of national income from 0.7% – in breach of a manifesto pledge.

The cut translates into a loss of more than £4bn to UK aid spending on programmes around the world.

Mr Johnson has signalled that his hand was forced because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the UK economy.

But the move has triggered an outcry from MPs, peers and aid organisations, with experts noting that other world powers are increasing aid spending to the poorest because their need is increasing given the global health crisis.

On Tuesday, it emerged that almost all UK funding will be cut for lifesaving water projects in developing countries and efforts to eradicate polio.

The UK has historically been the main donor for UNFPA Supplies.

In 2019, it committed £425m in funding over the five years to 2025.

“The UK is retreating from that commitment,” UNFPA said.

As well as cutting funding to family planning, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is also reducing by 60% what is known as “core funds” to the organisation, which covers the cost of buildings, staff salaries and other administrative expenses.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The UK is a world leader on international development. In 2020 we were the third biggest aid donor globally, spending £14.5bn.

“The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on aid. We will still spend more than £10bn this year to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve global health.

“We are working through what this means for individual programmes. Decisions will be announced in due course.”

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