Wednesday 23 November 2022
Firstly, and on behalf of the Commission, I would like to give a sincere thank you to States Members for approving an uplift in the Commission's funding, as part of the Assembly's recent consideration of the 2023 States Budget. As Members will know, there is an extant States' resolution which directs that the States of Guernsey should adopt a target for its overseas aid giving of 0.2% of GDP by 2030. Although a comparatively modest target, the increased funding for 2023 is the first step towards this figure and is very much welcomed.
Of course, the Commission fully appreciates that the world as a whole is currently facing difficult economic times and this includes Guernsey. However, I think it is wise to remind ourselves of the fortunate position the developed world is in compared to the developing world. The United Kingdom is ranked 18th highest out of 191 countries and territories on the United Nations Human Development Index and, by association, Guernsey must at least be at a similar level. The Commission generally supports projects in countries which are ranked lower than 143 on the Human Development Index - the lowest quartile. This includes such places as Malawi at 169, Burundi at 187, and South Sudan at 191, and many others.
I also make no apology to highlight that anyone living on more than £26.00 per day - so £9,500 a year - is in the top 15% of the world's population. Conversely, The World Bank states that there are 689 million people living on less than £1.65 or £600 a year. Based on this global context and as a mature international jurisdiction we have a moral duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
In 2022 the Commission was able for the first time to provide Multi-Year Grant Aid Awards. Whilst Single-Year Awards have always been at the heart of the Commission's work, it was previously recognised that projects over a longer period can often have a greater sustainable impact on the future of developing communities. Six Awards of up to £150,000 each over three years have been made. All these projects relate to the themes of 'reaching the furthest first' OR mitigating the impact of climate change. The former means that the majority of beneficiaries of the projects are from a marginalised group. The latter relates to protecting agricultural land from desertification, land irrigation, and the use of solar energy. The funded projects include, but are not limited to, climate-proof food production in Ethiopia benefiting 50,000 people; solar irrigation in Malawi; and education for adolescents from lower castes in Nepal. The uplift in the Commission's budget for 2023 will allow it to launch a further funding round for Multi-Year projects building on the above workstream.
The Commission has also this year funded 58 Single-Year projects of up to £50,000 each, out of a total of 138 applications - unfortunately our funding rounds are always oversubscribed.
75% of the approved projects are located in Africa with the remainder in Asia and the Middle East. 34% of the approved projects are for water, sanitation and hygiene, which is the most basic of human needs, while 23% are for education, 20% agriculture, 18% health, and 5% have multiple elements. All of the charities we fund have to be regulated by one of the charity commissions of Great Britain or be registered in the Channel Islands.
To give you a small insight into what can be achieved with Single Year Grant Aid Awards, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo we have funded a project by Guernsey grown Charity, This is Epic, to start 50 Village Saving and Loan groups which will build local wealth and finance, for 510 men and 2,040 women. These saving groups enable those in extreme poverty to find their own solutions to financial exclusion and social discrimination, including gaining sustainable livelihoods, especially for women who are vulnerable to abuse. In Nigeria nearly
70,000 people will benefit from access to water and sanitation. Three communities and an orphanage will each be provided with a solar powered borehole and pit latrines. The Commission funded a similar project for the same Charity, Transfer of Appropriate Sustainable Technology and Expertise (known as TASTE), in 2021. This Charity has shared a video on the 2021 project which I would encourage you to watch as it is a life affirming testament to the difference Guernsey can make - I will e-mail you all the link.
The Commission also assists when disasters occur in the developing world. Earlier in 2022, this included £25,000 each to the British Red Cross operating In Tonga, and to Guernsey Charity, Hope for a Child, working in Malawi, to help alleviate the effects of a volcanic eruption and Tropical Strom Ana respectively. Extreme Monsoon floods then came to Pakistan, when a third of the Country was underwater at its peak. The Commission initially made a £20,000
Award to the UNHCR, and then a further donation of £46,000 to the Red Cross, who were delivering kits to prevent the spread of disease. However, it was in the last few months that the Commission has received an unprecedented number of applications in a short time. This included assistance for Myanmar refugees, floods in Yemen and South Sudan, and drought in Somalia.
It is a sobering thought that a significant factor in the vast majority of emergency aid applications to date in 2022 has been climate change. Climate change is exacerbating summer heat and autumn rains, leading to droughts and floods, even in the same regions. For example, East Africa as a whole is in the grip of the worst drought in 40 years and is on the edge of famine, but South Sudan has recently experienced devastating floods. I am pleased to say that projects relating to climate change resilience and mitigation measures have been funded by the Commission since at least 2015.
The Commission also continues to offer matched funding Community Partnerships to local organisations who are fundraising for projects in the developing world. In 2022 this has included our longstanding collaboration with the World Aid Walk, as well as support for local Charity The Eleanor Foundation who are rebuilding a girls' school dormitory in Tanzania following a devasting fire. The Commission for several years has had a Community Partnership with the French Department of Ille-et-Vilaine, which emanated from an overarching States of Guernsey agreement. This year I and some of the Commissioners were fortunate enough to meet with Rennes based charities we have jointly supported with the Department. This included Association Ille-et-Vilaine Mopti which is providing potato seed tubers to farmers in central Mali after their previous crop failed due to drought.
The agreement with Ille et Vilaine also provided an exciting opportunity for two former Sixth Form Centre students, when one of the French charities the Commission has previously supported, Jeunesse et Developpement, kindly offered Channel Islands' youngsters voluntary work on a project in Senegal. Leon Russell and Tarek Pledge answered the call of the Commission, which was even more impressive as the trip was entirely self-funded by them (or perhaps their parents!). As well as the Charity and the Commission, this initiative was facilitated by Ille et Vilaine, Bureau des Iles Anglo-Normandes and Jersey Overseas Aid and is a good demonstration of how partnership with our neighbours can provide international opportunities. By all accounts Tarek and Leon had an adventurous and enjoyable time and gained a new perspective and understanding of the world which can only be positive.
I have not touched on Fairtrade, the Impact Investment Fund or the Guernsey International Development Network, but I can ensure you that this work continues. Indeed, the Network is due to be relaunched in 2023 following a COVID-19 Pandemic related hiatus.
Madam, finally I would like to thank the three established and three recently retired Commissioners for their voluntary contribution over a number of years. I have relied on their expert advice and I am in their debt. I also would like to give a warm welcome to the three new Commissioners who are already proving their worth. In addition, I would like to thank the Bailiwick population as a whole for their generosity, whether it be by supporting the Commission, working overseas on projects, or donating directly to charities. Over the last two years or so I have met many local organisations and individuals supporting work in the developing world and have been impressed by the real difference they are making on the ground. They are literally improving the lives of thousands and sometimes even saving lives. Working with such people in our own community makes it an absolute privilege for me to be the President of the Commission.