Spain’s Agency of International Cooperation for Development Celebrates 25 years

6a00d8341bfb1653ef019b011ddeb7970dSpain’s agency of International Cooperation for Development has recently celebrated 25 years, with the presence of the Queen of Spain, Sofia and many prominent political figures. The agency over the years has developed subsidiaries in 38 countries all over the world. Every four years the agency establishes priority territories and in those territories priority countries. During the period 2013-2016 the priority territories have been and are  Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East,  and lastly Sub Saharan Africa. Ana Jar Rodriguez-Mendel the coordinator of Southern, Central, and Eastern Sub Saharan Africa explains how a priority country is chosen. images

“There are many factors and actors that go into the decisión, political, historical etc. Factors that influence the decisión include the capacity Spain has to help a particular country, cultural unions that countries may have with Spain like Equatorial Guinea which used to be a spanish colony, if a special cultural or economic relationship exists with Spain and fundamentally the level of development a particular country has -the lesser the development the more likely Spain will make it a priority country. The agency belongs to the national Ministry of Exterior so actors include autonomous community’s like Galicia or Andalusia and any city council involved in the development of a country. Other actors include ONGD which are non governmental organizations for development and opinions from the private sector ,enterprises, are crucial as they offer jobs and produce essential items for living . All of these actors are present at a parliamentary based decisión making process.”

The agency then continues establishing offices in priority countries. Priority countries in Sub Saharan Africa include Senegal, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique. Equatorial Guinea as mentioned used to be a spanish colony until 1968 when it gained independence. The country has become sub-Sahara’s biggest producer of oil, but its citizens continue living in poor conditions. Less than half the population have access to drinking water. Mozambique was a portuguese colony until 1975 and since has been struggling with civil war, economic mismanagement and famine. Niger rated by the United Nations as one of the worlds least-developed countries has had to  struggle with a a long military rule, a drought that prevents it from feeding its citizens and widespread diseases caused by an inadequate health care system. The agency plans to help these countries by consolidating democratic processes, reducing inequality and vulnerability of the poor, promote economic opportunities for the most poor, respond to humanitarian crisis in a effective way among etc.

images-1Ana Jar explains how the agency not only helps developing countries but also helps Spain. Spain in recent years has seen a worrying increase in immigration especially from Africa. The agency indirectly somehow helps Spain and in consequence the rest of Europe since many european immigrants enter through Spain. Many people must leave there countries because they have no other choice. It is either starve, live in a violent environment or travel through dangerous areas to an unknown country. If their countries provided them with a sustainable life than they wouldn’t want to leave. So if the agency help countries develop enough to provide its citizens with basic living conditions they would not want leave and emigrate to other countries like Spain.

Another issue Ana tackles is one that everyone is tired of hearing of but has a particular consequence in the agency, the european economic crisis. The crisis has hit hard many countries one of which is Spain. The government of Spain in consequence felt that they had no other choice but to lower the amount of money used to subsidize governmental agencies.  Many agencies have seen there budget lowered quite significantly. The Agency of International Cooperation for Development  in particular has seen there budget lowered more than fifty percent. That is the reason why the amount of priority countries has been lowered in order to concentrate the budget in a few countries and have a larger impact.

Even though the agency has seen their budget lowered, Ana explains the agency’s accomplishments over the past twenty five years. Such accomplishments include the increase of budget that Spain destined to the development of third world countries, strengthening the country’s exterior image where  Spain has never been present, and fundamentally as proven by evaluations the agency has implemented programs to decrease poverty. Although Ana insists that real success will be met when there is no need for an agency of this type. When third world countries have a sustainable future and need no exterior help.

 By: Mercedes Rosendo


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