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West Bengal Freedom Businesses

Starting work in MurshidabadBanzaid, in partnership with Marketplacers International Ltd, has submitted a proposal to the New Zealand Aid Programme for funding for the first three years of an exciting new project in the Murshidabad District of the West Bengal State in India.

The Murshidabad district is an area where sex-trafficking is particularly prevalent. Village poverty results in women being trafficked into the brothels of Kolkata. This joint project between Banzaid and Marketplacers International Ltd will reduce the incidence of trafficking from the district by strengthening the local economy and providing employment opportunities. Manufacturing businesses employing 200+ women will be established and mentored. The provision of advice, counselling and advocacy in areas of health, finances, and rights, will further empower the communities, helping build healthy, stable, economically sound village communities.

An estimated 10,000 sex-workers live and work in the Sonagacchi red light district of Kolkata. Many are trafficked from the surrounding villages of West Bengal and from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. One solution that addresses the root cause is providing alternative means of income for those wanting to get out of the trade. In 2001, Freeset was founded as a social business offering economic choice to women in Sonagacchi. Since then Freeset Bags and Apparel (FBA) has grown into a medium sized manufacturing business now employing over 200 women in Sonagacchi.

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Annual Report 2013-2014

Introduction

Paul ThompsonFighting poverty is no longer mainly about helping poor people in poor countries. India is now classed as a ‘middle income’ country. Why do they still need aid programmes? The truth is that while countries like India have been able to improve their economic situation, they still have a lot of poor people. 72% of the world’s poor now live in ‘middle income’ countries that are regarded as stable, with non-fragile, or even strong economies.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established to see some real progress on poverty issues for the beginning of the new millennium. While none of the MDGs will be completely achieved, they have helped us to make enormous progress. Next year will see the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These, as the name suggests, will have a strong emphasis on economic, environmental and social sustainability, not just for the poor countries, but for the developed countries as well. The sustainability of what we do in New Zealand has an impact on the other countries that we interact with.

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Political parties pledge to increase overseas aid

A survey of political parties looking at how much New Zealand should spend on Official Development Assistance (ODA) shows the overwhelming majority of parties are committed to raising the bar according to the Council for International Development (CID). (See survey here)

CID, the umbrella organisation for the majority of the organisations working in the aid sector, put five questions to the 14 parties registered (as of June 2014) for the election. Of the 11 who responded seven said they are committed to reaching the internationally agreed target of 0.7% of GNI which would more than double the present aid budget. This included National, Labour and the Greens.

"Our aid budget has been too low for too long while the problems facing those living in extreme poverty are becoming more complex with issues around climate change and political instability. This result shows most of our political parties recognise New Zealand must be a credible part of a global push to alleviate poverty as part of working towards sustainable development,” says Dr Wren Green, CID Director.

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