International Aid in Nigeria

What is international aid?

International aid is help given by one country to another. Aid can be given as advice, technology, food and money. Typically, aid is given to low-income countries (LICs) and newly-emerging economies (NEEs) by high-income countries (HICs).

Aid can be given by national governments, international organisations, charities and non-government organisations (NGOs). The United Nations set HICs a target of committing 0.7% of their GDP to aid. The UK achieved this in 2013.

Why does Nigeria need aid?

The graph below shows the amount of aid received by Nigeria between 1960 and 2016.

One of the main reasons why Nigeria receives a considerable amount of aid is due to the significant inequality of wealth within the country. According to the UK Department for International Development (DFID), despite having the largest economy in Africa, around a third of Nigerians (60 million) live below the national poverty line, with around another third just above. The graph below shows the proportion of Nigerians living in extreme poverty.

Other issues in Nigeria include:

  • a low life expectancy at 53.87 in 2017 according to the World Bank
  • high birth rates at 5.5 children per woman
  • the high infant mortality rate at 100 child deaths under-5 (per 1,000 live births)
  • low literacy rates with only 44% of children attending secondary school
  • only 42% of children aged 12-23 months are immunised against measles
  • violence and protests occur in the Niger Delta relating to oil wealth and its impact on the environment
  • terrorism in the north, by groups such as Boko Haram
  • the high death rate from Malaria

Most aid comes from countries like the UK and USA, but organisations like The World Bank and charities also provide support. The most successful aid projects are small and community-based, supported by charities and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). These deliver help directly where needed so that no money is wasted.

What are the issues with giving aid to Nigeria?

Aid isn’t always used effectively in Nigeria because:

  • Corruption in the government and individuals means aid is lost or not given to the right people
  • There have been claims aid money has been used to supply the Navy
  • Donors of aid may have political influence over who does and does not benefit. In addition, they may use donations to promote themselves.

Few governments or international agencies now give aid directly to the Nigerian government.

How does Nigeria benefit from aid?

  • Nets for Life project provides education on Malaria and give mosquito nets to households to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • World Bank-funded loans to businesses to help diversify the economy away from being dependent on oil so that new companies and industries are developed.
  • The UK government has funded health and HIV programmes providing health and education in rural areas. This will help to protect people against infection in the future and help them to work and improve their own lives.

Find out more about the UK’s contribution to aid in Nigeria on the Department for International Development Aid to Nigeria factsheet.

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