The Ebola outbreak teaches us an important lesson about aid

We cannot insulate ourselves from the suffering of others, or the diseases they suffer

Share

Ebola has hit our headlines, finally. For months, communities in three African states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - have been experiencing a swathe of suffering and death, with scant international attention.

To date, all we’ve heard about Ebola has been from the occasional harrowing report from an admirable Western aid worker on the front line. That's changing. This morning, BBC 4's Today Programme carried an interview with Lewis Brown, the embattled Liberian Minister for Information, in which he spelled out the extreme measures being considered to control the outbreak. 

There is a huge amount of suffering in the world, but we should all spare a thought for communities stalked by a disease for which there is no cure.

Now there’s perceived to be a threat to Britain, however distant, the coverage has ramped up. What’s yet to appear, however, is much reflection on the conditions on the ground in Africa that have allowed the outbreak to rumble on: the under-resourced health services; the population denied the education that would enable them to understand what’s happening to them, the inadequate government structures that lack the ability to document, trace and explain the virus.

We are all implicated in this, and not just through history, but recent behaviour: the actions of multinational companies prepared to bribe their way to massive profits at the expense of honest governance, that fail to pay fairly for the resources they remove, or provide for the people they displace; the failure to provide effective aid for development and to provide support and a fair trading environment for small farmers and manufacturers in great stretches of the developing world.

Britain’s current government deserves credit for increasing aid to 0.7 per cent of Gross National Product (GNP), albeit with an unhealthy and inappropriate focus on the economic benefits to Britain that result. But more can and should be done.

The Green Party calls for at least 1 per cent of our GNP to be paid out in aid – and directed to places where it will do the most good, through mechanisms that will best benefit local societies and states, and not British profits.

There are lots of reasons why we should be doing this, the foremost among them being that it is the right thing to do. It is an acknowledgement of Britain’s privileged position as a rich country, and of the fact that a lot of that wealth has been built at the cost of what is now the developing world.

Today is a good time to reflect on another reason why boosting aid, and making sure it is best targeted for recipients, is not just a good idea, but essential.

We live in on a small, interconnected planet. We cannot insulate ourselves from the suffering of others, or the diseases, like Ebola, that they suffer.

Ensuring that every human being on the planet has access to the resources for a decent, healthy life isn’t just an admirable aim. It’s an essential one.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C++, Ruby/ Perl) - £40k

£40000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C+...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Systems Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Rockstar Sales Executive - OTE £65,000

£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, VC-funded star...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: sculpture, silly jokes and a guide to solving all engineering problems

John Rentoul
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: Sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital