We are the leading development organisation in Wales, and represent the international solidarity sector in Wales.
We provide mentoring, development support, training and shared learning events. We convene the sector at our annual summit, and provide a platform for advocacy on issues impacting us all globally.
We are not experts in all areas that the consultation has focussed on, and have therefore reflected on a selection of questions.
This has been a debate within our organisation for some time. We often deliver work that delivers on the funders idea of success and indeed many funds are promoted with specific outcomes designed into them. The balance of power needs to favour the in-country partners that we work with and UK based organisations should be able to play more of a broker role, articulating the needs of their partners and asking for flexibility from funders. When we deliver domestic development work, the connection between the community and the funder is often closer, and the community are better placed to define and measure success. In the international development sector, we need to get better at building that link. Although, of course we can’t ignore the tension of the aid budget coming from UK tax and the assumption that there needs to be a strong level of accountability.
There should be conditions on aid, but they shouldn’t always be set at a government level. This can reinforce neo-colonial attitudes and a model that sees ‘western’ values as distinct and ‘better’. Through our discussions with partners we believe that conditions should be mutually agreed and considerate of the different contexts that partners are working in. These contexts and can only really be considered with an open conversation that respects partners as equals. Some partners have spoken openly about the ‘scarcity mind-set’ and feeling obliged to say yes to things that are inappropriate, and the need for them to be able to push back and not worry about the consequences of them being seen as problematic. We are not too far historically from trauma and violence being inflicted in the countries that we work with, and this still presents itself in the power imbalance and confidence in negotiation.
The distinction between humanitarian aid and long-term development spending should be distinct. The expectation of small and micro-organisations through the Covid-19 crisis pivoted towards humanitarian, as their on the ground networks were considered an asset. However, the expertise to deliver ‘humanitarian’ work did not always exist. Funders in Wales used limited resources to deal with the urgency of the crisis, and in turn groups that could not move rapidly were unable to draw down the funds that they had used for longer term projects. The skills are different, and groups embedding long-term work should not be in a position where they are fearful of losing funds from limited streams; the work is still very much need to build back post-crisis. Small and micro-organisations can lose their footprint in these circumstances.
From perspective of working in Wales, our global solidarity work helps us to articulate and deliver our ambition to be a globally responsible Wales. It builds global solidarity, helps us to take an international approach to issues like climate change, and informs our curriculum. There have also been opportunities (pre-pandemic) for international learning opportunities for citizens of Wales, to undertake placements with partners Uganda, Lesotho and Namibia to improve their leadership skills. At a micro-level the benefits depend very much on the individual partnerships, but the majority could be considered as reducing inequalities, mutual learning and tackling issues like climate change at a hyper-local level.
Hub Cymru Africa are a platform that works to develop small organisations in Wales that are undertaking solidarity and development work. Citizen led initiatives are an excellent model in shifting power dynamics and working at a local needs led level there are obvious risks and drawbacks. Safeguarding policies are harder to manage, the work can be ‘invisible’ to organisations like ours, unless small and micro organisations proactively seek our support. Historically we were also grant makers which gave us stronger powers. But this link has been broken and not all funders have the ability to monitor the work that is done, or indeed have a relationship with the in-country partner. It is important that the work of these small/micro-organisations are not ignored, and all attention focussed on the large International Development Organisations. Platforms like those in the nations and regions of the UK are supported to ensure best practice happens are every strata of the development sector. Citizen led initiatives will continue to happen, and this should be acknowledged and supported. The Small Charities Challenge Fund from the FCDO was an important element of this. The Small International Development Charity Network estimates that there are 10,000 of these types of organisations in the UK, the reach and impact of their work is enormous. It is challenging to articulate exactly what their collective impact is.
The UK should have an aid budget. We have a history of violent extraction of wealth and resource, and slavery. We have also benefitted from industrial revolution that began climate change and set economic systems that benefit the global North. We also currently live high carbon lifestyles that inflict climate change on poorer nations, and our expectation is that they will skip the dirty industry and move forward in-line with reducing global emissions. We have a responsibility to correct some of this injustice and aid is one mechanism.
Official Development Assistance should be used for the purposes of poverty alleviation where it is most needed, and not tied to the furthering of national interest. Focussing on need of the integrated review risks furthering inequalities for people in countries that are unable to meet these interests. There was an obvious move away from some of the countries like Uganda that have the furthest to go in terms of poverty alleviation. We all also understand the links between scarcity of resource and instability leading to conflict. We must not take our eye off of long term impacts, by looking only at our immediate objectives. An absolute focus on the SDGs until 2030, and a wholly needs led global view should be a priority.
The SDGs should be a framework that was developed on a multi-lateral basis, and should encompass the needs of recipient countries. It was a criticism of the Millennium Development Goals and the SDGS were a move forward from this. If there are developing priorities, that don’t align with the goals, then this should be a consideration for a future framework, and recipient countries should be centred in the design of them. The SGDs help articulate progress, but if they don’t allow for the priorities to be addressed they shouldn’t be enforced as a barrier to needs led development.
Hub Cymru Africa is a founding member of the European Citizen Initiatives in Global Solidarity, in order to achieve a Europe where citizens play an active and positive role in the achievement of sustainable development and human rights worldwide, the European Network for Citizen Initiatives in Global Solidarity strives for the improvement of support practices for CIGS in Europe. It does so through exchange of knowledge, experiences and good practices between its members regarding advocacy, networking, co-funding, training and research. Practices that are relevant to the European community of CIGS and lead to increasing their impact in communities worldwide. Furthermore, the network intends to assist CIGS in making good use of funding possibilities and capacity support. The network invites all European funders, capacity builders, local, regional and national authorities, government agencies, national unions, networks and research institutions to take a keen interest in supporting CIGS, support the mission of the network and join it. It is a fledgling organisation but we hope that it will address some of the capacity and resourcing issues that face smaller organisations across Europe (originally the EU, but the terms changed in order to ratify the inclusion of UK based organisations.
For organisations working in Wales the link with supporting the ambitions of the Welsh Government is important. The majority of our funding comes through this stream and they provide a platform for organisations like Size of Wales to deliver transformational work. Due to the size of the sector and the organisations that exist it is much harder to work with the UK Government and the FCDO. There are many organisations like Wales and Africa Health Links Network that are poised for action, but English based organisations so not always have a footprint in the devolved nations to support the delivery of ambition and shared learning. Currently, the way aid spending is accounted for, it is not transparent and it is hard to ascertain how it is delivered through organisations across the UK. Anecdotally we assume there is less available for people in the nations to participate and build connections to deliver the SDGs. We would like to better understand how this can be improved.