Support for development aid among French citizens was high in 2016, according to the French Development Agency (AFD). But it has still not recovered since the crisis hit in 2008. EURACTIV France reports.
According to a study published by IFOP in October 2016 on behalf of AFD, France’s actions in support of developing countries are still supported by a majority of its citizens.
The latest edition of this annual survey found that support for development programmes is on the rise. In 2016, 70% of respondents agreed that development assistance was a positive thing, up by three points from 2015 and eight points from 2014.
What is more, 48% of those polled see sub-Saharan Africa as the priority area in which development efforts should be concentrated. North Africa and the Middle East came second and third in the list of French priorities.
While France’s development efforts may benefit from broad support among the public, there is evidence that the economic situation has had a negative effect on French solidarity.
77% of respondents to the 2016 survey said they thought France allocated enough money to international development; an uninterrupted increase from 58% in 2008. Over the same period, the number of respondents who believed that French aid was insufficient fell from 37% to 23%.
But this perception has little to do with reality. In fact, France has made significant cuts to its official development assistance (ODA) budget between 2008 and 2016. The fact that this feeling began to emerge in 2008, at the same time as the crisis, suggests it has more to do with the domestic economy than foreign aid commitments.
Another surprising finding from the 2016 survey regards the perception that the fate of France is linked to that of developing countries.
For example, a decreasing number of French people believe that the situation in developing countries has a direct impact on their quality of life in France. 82% believed in this rebound effect in 2015, compared to 77% in 2016. But in the long term, awareness that countries’ destinies are intertwined is on the rise.
Fighting climate change
Finally, 76% of respondents to the 2016 survey believed that climate change represented a serious threat, compared to 65% in 2011.
The vast majority of French citizens (89%) also want to see climate change integrated into their country’s development policy.