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Britain to cut foreign aid to Gambia, others

Mar 4, 2011, 11:10 AM

The Gambia will be among countries affected by British government plans to cut aid to 16 countries by 2016.

British Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell on Tuesday announced major changes to the nation’s international aid programme based on a nine-month review of the agency’s policies, Reuters reported.

"This government is taking a radically different approach to aid. We want to be judged on our results, not on how much money we are spending," Mitchell said of the changes to the aid programme.

The government plans on cutting funds for 16 countries and four U.N. agencies, allowing it to focus future efforts on "27 poor, conflict-ridden or 'fragile' states, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe."

Aid will be phased out by 2016 "to 16 countries considered no longer to need it, including China, Russia, Vietnam, Moldova, Cameroon, Kosovo, Iraq and Serbia".

Burundi, Lesotho and Niger also are among the countries that will have aid cut.

Angola, Bosnia and HerzegovinaCambodia, Gambia and Indonesia make up the other countries receiving cuts, according to a press release from the Department for International Development (DfID).

"The plans to redraw the aid map will concentrate efforts on countries where U.K. aid will, pound for pound, achieve the best results in fighting poverty and building a safer world, and where Britain is in the best position to deliver results," the press release states.

The new strategy aims to provide access to family planning for an additional 10 million women worldwide, prevent the deaths of 250,000 infants and 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth, vaccinate millions of children, and improve access to safe drinking water, according to the release.

According to Mitchell, Ethiopia will become the largest recipient of British aid over the next two years.

Bangladesh also will receive a major increase, with its aid set to double over the next four years.

The release adds that the U.K. "will continue to respond to humanitarian disasters as is needed".

The new approach puts "four poor performers, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), on 'special measures', insisting they take urgent measures to improve their effectiveness," the DfID release noted.

"Britain will increase funding to nine organizations, which it says provide good value," including UNICEF, GAVI Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to Reuters.