The aim of Finland's development policy, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, is "to support developing countries' efforts to eradicate poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development". In contradiction to this policy, the country's government has massively slashed development cooperation funding - a move that some people in the country feel would "kill the NGO sector" and adversely affect the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. The steep cuts raised concerns among civil society organisations, and prompted a petition telling Finland's government that harsh cuts would adversely affect the world's most vulnerable people.
Following general elections in April 2015, a new government comprising the Centre Party, the populist anti-immigration Finns Party and the National Coalition Party took power on 29 May 2015 under the leadership of Prime Minister Juha Sipila. The new government will, according to information on the Foreign Ministry's website, cut appropriations for development cooperation by EUR 200 million beginning in 2016. According to the Guardian its a 43% cut in development aid. The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka claims the cuts are as a result of Finland's economic situation and the need for saving.
Civil society organisations in Finland do not welcome the cuts.
KEPA, an umbrella organisations for over 300 Finnish NGOs launched a petition urging the government to save development cooperation. As of the time of this writing the petition has garnered 31800 signatures.
Concerns by civil society organisations make sense. I share the view that massive cuts - almost 50% cuts would kill some NGOs and negatively affect some of the world's poorest people supported by the good work done by Finnish NGOs around the world. Take the work done by Save the Children Finland for example: over 13000 children in Kenya and Ethiopia supported by the organisation will have their opportunities for basic education weakened or become impossible when the cuts hit - according to an email by KEPA's World Village Festival team. According to the email, which I received through an email list to which I am subscribed, as many as 120,000 children aided by World Vision will be left without help, and Plan Finland's work in Ethiopia against child marriage and female genital mutilation will be ended.
Drawing from the aforementioned, massive cuts would no doubt save Finland some money but would at the same time adversely affect the well-being of children elsewhere. Saving a few euros could be appealing to some people, but working for a more just world makes more sense to a majority of Finns. According to an open letter (in Finnish) to Finland's foreign minister by representatives of Finnish NGOs and civil society, more than 80% of Finns consider development cooperation important.
The foreign ministry recognizes the fact that development cooperation provides millions of people with a chance for a better life, and that over a billion people continue to live in poverty. It is therefore reckless and somewhat selfish to cut development cooperation funding by almost half. Besides adversely affecting millions of people living in poverty across the world development cooperation cuts could also lead to job loses in the NGO sector in Finland since some organisations will have to terminate projects. This could mean lay-offs for some workers in the sector.
Help save development cooperation. Sign the petition.
Worthy to mention that not only development cooperation is at risk in Finland due to cuts. The the government also proposed drastic cuts in education and other sectors.
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