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Ethiopian girl band Yegna’s funding axed by UK


(BBC) British taxpayers’ money will no longer be used to fund an Ethiopian girl band, the government has said.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel announced a review of the funding last month after reports that pop group Yegna received £5.2m.

The Girl Effect Programme, which manages Yegna and promotes women’s rights in Ethiopia, said its aims had been “wilfully misrepresented.”

But the government said: “There are more effective ways to invest UK aid.”

A Department for International Development spokeswoman said the partnership with Girl Effect had ended following the recent review.

“Empowering women and girls around the world remains a priority, but we judge there are more effective ways to invest UK aid and to deliver even better results for the world’s poorest and value for taxpayers’ money,” she said.

‘Being rubbished’

Yegna has been the subject of a long-running campaign by the Daily Mail, which suggested that grants to the group were a waste of money.

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The Department for International Development said its decision had not been influenced by the newspaper campaign.

Shadow International Development Secretary Kate Osamor said it was “really unfortunate” the project “was being rubbished.”

Humanitarian aid was “not just about food parcels”, she said.

Aid bar chart

The UK is one of the most generous providers of international aid in the world.

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said that with government budgets on domestic priorities squeezed, questions have been asked about whether the money heading overseas is well spent.

Yegna was founded in 2013 and works to encourage “positive behaviour change for girls in Ethiopia” – it is part of the Girl Effect project, which was created by the UK’s Department for International Development and the Nike Foundation in 2011.

It uses storylines and music to tackle gender-based violence, reduce the proportion of girls who marry or give birth before the age of 18, increase the proportion of girls who complete primary school and go to secondary school and increase the number of girls “with control over economic assets”.

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Girl Effect said 8.5m people in Ethiopia had heard of Yegna and said: “New ideas are often resisted and sometimes wilfully misrepresented.

“Our work continues with the confidence we gain from the feedback of girls and their communities on the ground.”

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