British minister pulled the plug on Ethiopia Girl Band following a chorus of criticism
Britain says it has cancelled the controversial £5.2m in funding for an insignificant Ethiopian girl band, Yegna, amid growing criticism at home for squandering overseas aid that way.
Yegna, a group of five Ethiopian girls, sometimes called “Ethiopia’s Spice Girls,” was formed to create awareness in the country about forced marriage, violence, teen pregnancy and dropping out of schools using their twice-weekly radio drama and talk show.
The pop group Yegna initially received £4 million as part of a wider programme aimed at empowering women in Ethiopia.
Critics of the project, however, say the money is being wasted because the show reaches only a quarter of the population.
The Yegna radio broadcasts on Sheger FM in Addis Ababa and on other radio stations in the Amhara region, reach only 20 million of the country’s over 80 million people.
Ethiopia is one of the biggest recipients of British funds, despite being an autocratic one-party state.
A statement Friday from the Department for International Development says empowering women and girls remains a priority for Britain, “but we judge there are more effective ways to invest UK aid.”
Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said, “Taxpayers are fed up of their hard-earned cash being spent on projects that don’t deliver meaningful aid to recipients.
“It’s time to reassess DfID spending and focus money on things like disaster relief, so that taxpayers and recipients get a good deal.”
The new Yegna ‘entertainment brand’, established in April last year, is part of a £30 million scheme called Girl Hub that also operates in Nigeria and Rwanda.
Tory MP Philip Davies described Girl Hub as a complete waste of money.
“It can only reinforce the view that DfID have got far too much money,” he said. “They have got so much that they are struggling to find ways to spend it and you end up with projects like this.”
The Girl Effect project that launched Yegna confirms the British decision.