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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory