Rich countries’ aid budgets will inevitably eventually be squeezed by fiscal austerity in the coming years. But an increasing amount of the aid that is reaching poor countries is now coming from other parts of the global south, particularly from middle-income countries such as Brazil, India and China.
Brazil’s emergence as one of the world’s biggest providers of help to poor countries is forcing a rethink. China’s growing, and rapacious, interest in Africa’s natural resources has now been well documented, but Brazilian investments are not that far behind. The country’s official aid budget has tripled in the last two years. Brazil is also dramatically increasing its diplomatic corps, and opening a string of new embassies across the continent. As the Economist recently noted, its total development spending could be about $4bn a year, which roughly matches the spending of traditional donor countries such as Canada and Sweden.
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A humanitarian aid worker, Conor Foley has worked for a variety of human rights and humanitarian aid organizations, including Liberty, Amnesty International and the UNHCR, in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. His books include Combating Torture: A Manual for Judges and Prosecutors (2003). His new book, The Thin Blue Line, is available now in paperback.