Development aid flows to Zimbabwe again, while Uganda pays some back

The development minister, Christian Friis Bach, has pledged to continue increasing Denmark’s aid budget to reach the one percent GNI target

Denmark is in the top four in the world when it comes to the percent of its gross national income (GNI) that it dedicates to aiding developing nations, according to a new report from OECD’s development committee.

In 2012, Denmark gave 15.74 billion kroner, or 0.84 percent of its GNI, to developing nations, enough to rank Denmark fourth in the world behind Luxembourg, Sweden and Norway.

”The government platform supposes that it has a goal of increasing Denmark’s development aid amount to one percent of its GNI over a number of years and so in the budget agreements for 2012 and 2013 we have increased the aid budget to reach the target,” the development minister, Christian Friis Bach (Radikale), said in a press release.

According to the Development Ministry, a delay in aid efforts, coupled with the conflicts in Mali and South Sudan, have contributed to a reduction in the amount of foreign aid, but the ambition to increase aid funds remains unchanged.

“We want to help fragile countries, such as Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan, overcome the massive challenges they face, and it will also be in our own interest to do so,” Friis Bach said.

Along with Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands, Denmark is one of only five countries in the world that comply with the international aid goals of giving at least 0.7 percent of its GNI.

Money going out to Zimbabwe again

In related news, Denmark is set to become the first country in the world to once again give aid to Zimbabwe after long-time dictator Robert Mugabe agreed to sign a new constitution.

The ratification of the new constitution is seen by the Foreign Ministry as an essential step towards legitimate elections in the near future, something that pleases Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti).

“With a history plagued by political unrest, it is extremely positive that Zimbabwe looks to take a giant step in the direction of more democracy and greater respect for human rights,” Søvndal said in a press release. “Even though the country won’t transform into a blossoming democracy overnight, the constitution will prevent a repeat of 33 years with the same president.”

The Danish aid will initially be conveyed through a six-month period project that is expected to establish and strengthen the justice system in two local areas in Zimbabwe. Aside from the six-month project, Denmark has also pledged to spend 200 million kroner a year until 2015 in an attempt to promote a democratic Zimbabwe including reduced poverty, a respect for human rights and economic growth.

Money coming back from Uganda

Meanwhile, another African country that receives Danish aid has decided to pay some of it back. At the end of last year, Uganda's national auditors determined that Danish development funding had been never reached its intended target due to corruption. Therefore, Ugandan officials have paid ten million kroner back to Denmark, according to Ritzau. 

"Today is a good day because we are sending a clear signal of zero tolerance against corruption," Friis Bach told Ritzau. "We are punishing the government, but not the people [of Uganda]."

Bach said that the money would be redirected to humanitarian institutions working in the northern part of Uganda. 

Uganda's auditors also found that bilateral development funds from Sweden and Ireland also went missing in the country. In all, a total of 90 million kroner of money from donor countries was misused in Uganda.