Britain is set to give an extra £16m to a foreign aid to a project that funded Ethiopia’s version of the Spice Girls, despite warnings that it will be a waste of money.
The Department for International Development (DfID) is due to announce a ‘second phase’ of funding for the Girl Hub project – designed to “empower” girls in Africa – despite calls from the Independent Commission on Aid Impact group to halt the payment unless it is proven to be working.
The project has already provided at least £4m to the Ethiopian girl group Yegna, helping them fund a radio soap opera and series of videos aimed at young African girls.
However, the Independent Commission has released a highly critical report claiming that DfID “does not have sufficient independent evidence on the effectiveness of Girl Hub”.
The project has failed in northern Nigeria due to Islamist violence and “entrenched gender norms” and there is little more than “patchy” evidence it has had any effect in Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Jonathan Isaby of the TaxPayers’ Alliance told the Daily Mail: “Taxpayers will be astounded that bureaucrats are insisting on pushing ahead with spending such dramatic amounts of money abroad on projects of questionable worth.”
A spokesman for the project said: “Since our launch in 2010 we have reached millions of girls, boys and adults living in poverty with innovative social and behaviour change communications.
“For example, 84 per cent of girls listening to Yegna, Girl Hub’s Ethiopian radio drama and talk-show, report that it has helped them become more confident, while 76 per cent report it has inspired them to continue their education.”