Ben Riley-Smith, Telegraph, December 19, 2016
An all-female pop group dubbed Ethiopia’s Spice Girls has received another £5.2 million in British foreign aid despite previous criticism of the funding.
Yegna received the taxpayer money through a contract to develop their ‘branded media platform’, which includes a radio drama and music.
The revelation comes despite outcry in 2013 when it was revealed the group had been given £4 million via Girl Hub, a UK-funded project.
The independent aid watchdog has previously questioned whether funding Girl Hub provided value for money and suggested it should end.
Yegna, a five-person pop group, is described as “inspiring positive behaviour change for girls in Ethiopia”.
The Department for International Development (DFID) has given £5.2 million towards building Yegna’s brand through Girl Hub, now re-branded as Girl Effect. It was part of a £16 million package given to the project.
Details of the funding were contained in a contract uncovered by the Daily Mail which was awarded to an agency to manage the Yegna brand and media products up until August 2018.
The contract is said to read: “Girl Hub Ethiopia wishes to contract an agency to manage the first work stream of its programme – Yegna branded media platform – which encompasses a radio drama and talk show, and music that champions girls and creates a national conversation about their challenges and their potential to overcome the problems.”
Peter Bone, the Tory MP, told the paper: “How can we be spending millions on a girl band when the money could be much better spent at home on helping the elderly? This is the sort of up-the-wall project which shows why we must not have an aid pledge linked to GDP. This is not helping starving people, this is not helping refuges.”
A DFID spokesman said: “This innovative partnership is tackling forced child marriage, violence, teen pregnancy, migration and school drop-out, which are holding a generation of young Ethiopian women back.’
The spokesman added: “It’s vital those seeking to help the poorest strive to become more accountable so people can be assured money is going to help those less fortunate.”
Meanwhile The Times reported that Britain is “dumping” billions of pounds in overseas aid money into obscure World Bank trust funds.
The UK has channelled at least £9 billion into 219 different trusts over the last five years, according to the paper – more than any country apart from the United States.