“Microfinance is the best kind of development aid.” That's the opinion of 59 percent of Dutch people surveyed by microfinance organisation Oikocredit. The organisation polled 1000 people on whether development cooperation is necessary. A majority of 52 percent agreed with the statement “aid is more necessary now than ever”.
A spokesman for the organisation, Otto Albrecht, says the results are surprising. "There has been a lot of criticism about development cooperation recently. After 60 years of development aid, there is still a huge gap between the rich and the poor. As a result questions are being asked about the effectiveness of all that aid."
Crisis affects poor
Nevertheless, Dutch people think development aid is needed now more than ever, according to the survey. But no-one has looked into why they think this. "Many people probably realise that the credit crisis is mainly affecting poor people in developing countries, while they are not to blame for it," says Mr Albrecht.
An equally large proportion thinks that problems in developing countries are so big that we cannot stand by and watch, without doing something to help.
The fact that many people in the Netherlands see development aid in the form of microfinance as the best solution has never been investigated before by the NCDO.
Otto Albrecht explains why almost 60 percent think this. "Dutch people like concrete practical solutions and believe strongly in personal responsibility. Microfinance is a form of aid which gives a concrete loan to a concrete company or shop, so that people can generate their own income. That is completely different to the idea of accepting handouts. Dutch people like these kind of pragmatic solutions, in which people have to do something for themselves."
Photo: Bangladeshi fisherman - Michael Foley Photography at Flickr