Bishop defends African aid cuts that may end Ethiopian 'donkey library'

A donkey library visiting a school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that faces losing its funding form Australia. Source: PLAN INTERNATIONAL

An Australian-funded donkey library faces closure in Ethiopia but Julie Bishop says it is better to focus aid efforts on the immediate neighbourhood.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has defended the level of aid to Africa's poorest countries amid revelations an Ethiopian donkey library is at risk of closing next year.

The federal government has slashed the aid to Africa by 70 per cent as part of a $1 billion cut this financial year and an overall reduction of $11.3 billion.

The mobile library on the outskirts of Addis Ababa is part of an Australia-funded Plan International child development project helping 1572 children.

The six-year project looks likely to end three years early, despite hopes it would be scaled up to reach more than 4000 children in the next two years.

But Ms Bishop says it is better to focus aid efforts on the immediate neighbourhood, particularly the Pacific.

"For historical and geographical reasons, Europe and the United States are the leading donors to Africa," she said in a statement to AAP.

Ms Bishop said that even at its peak in 2012 when the Gillard and Rudd governments were lobbying for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, Australian aid to sub-Saharan Africa amounted to 0.7 per cent of total aid flows.

She said the Australian contribution to Africa extended beyond the aid program.

Australia has provided more than $160 million in 2015 for United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa, she said.

Plan International is seeking to make up the $990,000 shortfall for its aid project from other sources.

Source AAP

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