Crisis hits support for development aid

School children in Burkina Faso. [DFID/Flickr]

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.

Majority of French feel ill-informed about development aid

According to a study published by the French Development Agency (AFD), 88% of French citizens feel ill-informed about public development aid. Though most of those questioned supported development policy, opposition is growing. EURACTIV France reports

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.

No correlation

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%.

French development aid falls below EU average

The French budget for official development assistance (ODA) fell for the fourth year running in 2014. The latest cut of 10% since 2013 has left French ODA below the European average. EURACTIV France reports

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.

Shared destinies

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.

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