The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee report of July 1 2016 quotes the estimate that around 11% of British men aged 16 -74 have paid for sex on at least one occasion.  Of course it is more shocking that people employed by Oxfam should do this but there is something so hysterical in the coverage of the allegations about one Oxfam worker in 2011, it is hard to believe that all the fulmination is directed at protecting the women concerned. A real concern to solve the problem should surely have led the Times and Daily Mail to a discussion of the causes of prostitution and the way to protect vulnerable women.  It is hard not to think that they like to inflame the anti aid agenda.

I remember shortly after I became Secretary of State for Development in 1997, I visited Mozambique which was struggling to recover from the vicious civil war between Frelimo and Renamo ( the latter aided by apartheid South Africa).

The UK had been asked to concentrate our efforts on Zambezia Province which had been at the centre of the war.  One of the consequences was that animals had been killed and eaten.  We were therefore supporting a project to give pairs of goats to widows who would pass on the first born kid to another family.  I went along just because the goat handover was happening while I was there.  The widows concerned were extremely happy with their goats, but the picture that sticks with me is the representatives of the NGO concerned – in this case World Vision – arrived in massive very smart vehicles and the representatives of the local authority came on old bikes or on foot.

My view is that there should be more locally and regionally led NGOs responding to humanitarian emergencies.  And even more importantly development work should help build sustainable and transparent local systems not projects that end when the funding ends.  This is my gripe with development.

Photo credit: Howard Lake.

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