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Foreword, by the Minister for Development Cooperation

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Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation

2011 was a spring year. Buds of hope for a better future opened in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2011 the Arab Spring as experienced by Egypt, Tunisia and Libya was the great, momentous and unforgettable event.

The spring was carried forward by millions of people’s desire for change. By their struggles against poverty and injustice and their hopes for work, freedom and a life without anxiety and oppression. By their hopes for a better life.

There were many other joyful events in 2011. On the global level, nine out of ten people now have access to clean drinking water. Nine out of ten children in the world are attending school. Two out of three developing countries are well on the way to halving poverty. It is especially gratifying that many African countries are experiencing solid economic progress. In 2011 we could also celebrate the fact that South Sudan achieved independence as the most recent independent state in Africa. Even in extremely vulnerable Somalia we saw a nascent hope for peace and progress.

Denmark is helping to move the development in the right direction for millions of people in cooperation with governments and organisations in the world’s poorest countries. We are one of the countries that grant most development assistance – 15.98 billion DKK in 2011, corresponding to 0.85 percent of gross national income (GNI). We shall continue to do so. When the new government came into office  in October, the government platform made clear that the government would gradually raise development assistance to bring it back to 1 percent of GNI over a period of years.

The everyday lives of ordinary people lie behind the words, figures and statistics. Like the young women I had dinner with in Afghanistan. They hoped, believed in and fought for better conditions for women in Afghanistan and for prosperity in the country. They experienced that girls were attending school, that more battered women were getting help in the justice system, and that many women were setting up their own businesses. Things have not been easy in Afghanistan, but there is progress.

In this 2011 annual report for Danida you can find descriptions and figures about the way development assistance was used in 2011. There are links to the websites of the Danish embassies in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which have information about cooperation with the individual priority countries.

Danida’s annual report is published in an electronic version only for the first time since the tentative start of Danish development cooperation in 1962. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Danida have one of Denmark’s most world-wide websites. This year we have taken the step from a printed publication to utilising the many possibilities offered by the net to provide a comprehensive and hopefully still clear picture of Denmark’s participation in international development cooperation in 2011.

When the history of the world is written, at global level, despite the international financial crisis, 2011 will be remembered as a spring year. In our own Danish writing of history, 2011 was the year when Denmark got a new government and when work started on a new strategy and a new Act on International Development Cooperation. The new strategy is based on experience from many years’ of development cooperation: poverty can be reduced by promoting human rights and safeguarding inclusive, green growth. By insisting that poor people have the right to a better life.

 

Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation