Submission To Irish Aid
Submission to Irish-Aid kindly submitted by Neil Mc Cann on behalf of New Growth.
Submission of Behalf of New Growth
30th August 2018
New Growth has been active for almost two years in the support of several projects in Nepal. These include the Orphanages and Schools of Indreni at Sundarijal in Katmandu and a community agriculture programme in the Simthali, a village in Nepal. New Growth has been formally recognised as a charity in 2018.
Nepal has emerged for the great traumas of Earthquake which has required the rebuild of many of the houses. It is an inspiring country but needs considerable support and aid. This is particularly so in the area of economic development. The climate is very suitable for agriculture and it has a tradition of growing for hundreds of years. Part of its rural heritage is the numerous, functional and beautiful terraces in the mountain areas with provide level areas suitable for crops and irrigation.
New Growth is working with the villagers in Simthali in the foothills of the Himalayas. Many of the inhabitants of the area are rebuilding homes that were destroyed by earthquakes of 2015. It is estimated that 3000 people died and 22000 were injured in this event. Our work has the potential to link with a number of other villages in the locality. The vision is simple and effective. Using the business and agricultural expertise of our members we encourage the communities to plant suitable trees in the available land. It has been assessed that planting of trees and bushes for nuts and fruit would provide saleable crops to raise the income levels and employment opportunities for the villagers. The planting of these trees also provides a nutritional crop for the villagers and is highly beneficial to the children’s diet. It also of great educational benefit to children to be introduced to the growth of trees and the provision of crops at an early age.
A number of the terraces have already been planted with more than a hundred trees that are doing well in the early stages of maturity. It is planned to form a local nursery to train the villagers in growing and to provide plants for sowing. A site is agreed for the location of the Nursery and Training Centre and the villagers support the planting. This is the Nepal Fruit and Nut Programme which we will encourage also in different parts of Nepal along with coffee growing. New Growth is committed to support these projects to the extent to €10,000 per annum at present. We are seeking to add to this sum to provided funding and increase the contributions that we are making.
The UN Development Goals are a brave statement of what Ireland is committed to in terms of aid. That might be considered to be enough and they can be interpreted generously so as to provide guidance for the conduct of development activities for the coming period. However, it is the elements of the future that are unknown that challenge us to move, to extend the work beyond its current activities and thinking. The development goals can sustain a great part of what Ireland does in its outreach to the rest of the world. In these challenging days, there are other dynamics afoot and new integrations at play.
The Fairtrade movement has challenged the trade sector to be more ethical. Conversely, business has much to teach and the aid sector needs to be more business-like in its approach. The public sector has embraced conventional business approaches but needs to lift its overall performance and focus better on human need and ecology. The concept of aid itself needs to be understood more widely and embrace more areas of human activity. This includes areas often left to public bodies such as increases in the services available in the area of health care. The massive strides now occurring in western health care need also to be supported in poorer parts of the world. Likewise, in the fields of education and the conduct of all state services the adoption of excellence and ethics can be increasingly interwoven. This is a broad topic. This transformative period in history provides an unprecedented opportunity for convergence in a great many human activities.
Ireland has a vast experience in development and there is little in that story that needs to be abandoned, more so it needs to be expanded and with a greater conscience. Part of what we have is reputation and this gives us the capacity of influence. This can be brought to invigorate a more thoroughly selfless approach to world affairs. Apart from the countless organizations in what are currently called ‘civil society’, this can be advanced through political bodies, governments, International bodies such the EU, APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation), the Organisation for African Unity and indeed many other groupings of nations.
The input to Development Education is one area of possible increased influence from Ireland. The universities are already involved in this work to some degree with no less than 13 Masters courses currently available in Ireland in development education. Our country needs to engage itself more fully in education and to develop a sense of its own influence through the medium of education. This includes education that is offered to all Irish, whether or not born here and to those in other countries to whom we provide education. One area of expertise that is omitted from the consideration of state-sponsored aid is the that of Protestant charities. These are largely based and managed by people in Northern Ireland. There is every reason to include development co-operation within the areas of North-South Co-Operation provided in the Belfast Agreement.
Taking our New Growth Model as one effective intervention we would suggest that that Irish Aid would encourage the creation of the small group approach to creating partnerships with local communities in poorer countries. This could also be carried out on a town twinning and local authority level. The feasibility of such twinning arrangements could be examined and canvassed also within Ireland through local government associations and other state bodies and voluntary groups. The possibility of local authorities in Ireland providing assistance possibly in the form of advice to those in poorer lands with provision or update of public facilities could be considered.
A feature of the aid work is the recognition of what the recipient people bring to the donors. The recognition of this is not new but it is not always appreciated enough in aid work. This exchange is in need of more recognition if not celebration. The capacity of individuals and family members in countries who provided for relatives and friends where there is no structure of state support in welfare and health is inspiring. The dignity of those who have so little cannot but awaken our humanity, compassion, and gratitude. The exchange at the cultural levels are also beneficial to young and old. From the ancient cultures, we can draw wisdom and inspiration. We are invited to receive much from those to whom we are invited to give. Like-wise the exhortation of Irish Aid to ‘Leave No One Behind’ is inspirational and what Irish culture can offer to our fellow human beings in far-away places brings much to them also.
We further suggest a greater focus on the environmental concerns and protection of the Earth. This is the more urgent given the uncertainty as to climate change and legacy pollution. Protection of soil and the wilderness and seas are urgent concerns of our times. Wildlife of the land and ocean also summon our compassion and concern. The likely transition from oil to other forms of energy production, especially electricity, need to be directed toward fully social and ecological ends. The oil monoliths do not need to be replaced with environmentally friendly replicas of the excesses that have gone before in the fields of energy production.
The global landscape is greatly changed in the half century past. The role of Irish Aid in its current and previous guises has contributed greatly to the relief of poverty and need in countless situations in many parts of the world and has been required to adapt to changes. From the capacity to respond to urgent crises through to long-term development projects and programmes, in great part by support for NGOs, it has carried the generosity of the Irish People to those in need in so many countries. The Irish voice for such action has been greatly canvassed in International fora, particularly in the UN. There is a need now to recognize rapidly increasing changes in technology, urbanization, prosperity and health care.
These changes exist against a backdrop of the dramatic financial crisis of 2008. Urgent concerns include the more careful management of public finances, concerns about the type of consequences currently manifesting in South America.
Of increasing concern in the future is the availability of quality food at affordable prices throughout the world. The quality of city life and rural life are brought further to our attention by the move to cities. Poverty in the different living environments brings different understanding and responses. The particular attention of Irish Aid to Sub Saharan Africa is lauded within the capacity to have a wide global attention and capacity to respond.
The uncertainty in current global political dynamics makes the assessment of need more difficult and could stretch resources. There are legacies from earlier years which need attention. Apart from the massive call on public money for military spending, severe risks remain from legacy nuclear waste and continuing operation of nuclear facilities and weaponry and indeed the manufacture and planning of new nuclear-powered energy plants and nuclear weapons.
Urban settings, the provision of green areas, vertical gardens which include growing and processing food, are increasingly urgent. Likewise the need for facilities for education and health care for people of all ages are increasingly coming into view. The correction of the great disparity in earnings and opportunity for people to develop themselves to the fullest possible extent are also part of the future landscape. As ever the age-old understanding of the provision of training for people to assist them to provide for themselves remains a priority. Children everywhere need to be provided for in all aspects of their care, from pregnancy through birth and through all of their youthful years.
The great experience of hospice care for those who are coming to completion of the life journey is also an area in which practical assistance can be brought. Bringing to mind all these considerations, we advocate a greater focus of attention on the Earth.
Many who have gone before us have dreamed dreams of their future. By their application and their inspiration to others, many of these dreams have been realized. We Irish, along with all the nations of the Earth, with particular recognition of indigenous people, we carry a flame that illuminates the path of life and quality of life for the generations that follow us. We ask your attention to our considerations in the current formulation of Irish Aid policy.
From: Neil Patrick McCann on behalf of the members of New Growth.