Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sweden dedicates aid to Africa

Stockholm - Sweden, known for its generous development aid policies, said on Monday it planned to more than halve the number of countries to which it grants bilateral aid to focus on poverty in Africa.

The number of countries will be reduced from 70 to 33, but the $1.38bn earmarked for bilateral aid will remain largely unchanged and will be redistributed, said Minister of International Development Co-operation Gunilla Carlsson.

"It's not efficient to spread out development aid across about 70 countries. That is why we are concentrating our efforts on 33 countries," Carlsson wrote in an article published in the Dagens Nyheter daily.

Among those countries that will no longer receive aid are China and Vietnam.

"Swedish development assistance is to focus on combating poverty in Africa. There will also be a stronger focus on the work of reform in countries in eastern Europe, on peace and security, and on democracy and human rights," said Carlsson.

1% of gross national income

The countries that will receive aid can be divided into three groups.

The first category comprises 12 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where Sweden will conduct long-term aid projects: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The second consists of another 12 countries or territories in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America which are either in conflict or in post-conflict situations: Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, DR Congo, East Timor, Gaza/West Bank, Guatemala, Iraq, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan.

The third category is composed of countries in eastern Europe where Sweden intends to deepen cooperation to bolster European integration: Albania, Bosnia Hercegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

The opposition Social Democrats were critical that "almost all of Asia was abandoned" in the government's plan.

"It is after all a continent where half of the world's poor people live. I don't understand what they are thinking," Social Democrat Kent Haerstedt told Swedish news agency TT.

Sweden's total development aid budget for 2006 was about $4.37bn or 1% of gross national income.

Sweden dedicates aid to Africa: Africa: News: News24