Letter: Aid money wasted on dubious projects

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lynda Chalker is quite right to point out that much UK aid is used not on projects like Pergau, through the aid-trade provision, but to alleviate poverty in many of the poorest countries in the world ('So let's debate the aid business', 4 February).

The problem is that the Pergau dam affair threatens to undermine the credibility of the British aid programme by giving the impression that taxpayers' money is being wasted on projects the minister herself regards as uneconomic and bad for the environment (report, 2 February).

What concerns us most is that, at a time when we are struggling to respond with limited resources to humanitarian needs from Bosnia to Burundi, money is being wasted on dubious projects. The pounds 234m spent on Pergau would be better spent saving lives than destroying the environment and the reputation of UK aid.

If the Government is to restore public confidence in the aid programme, it must take steps to untie aid, open aid allocation procedures and take further action to ensure that the Overseas Development Administration's endeavours to put poor people first are not derailed by larger political and commercial interests.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID BRYER

Director

Oxfam

Oxford

4 February

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