British Government Questioned for Giving Ethiopian Pop Girl Band £5.2 Million in Foreign Aid

British officials have been questioned for giving an Ethiopian girl band £5.2 million in foreign aid amid criticisms of the program which the government hopes would empower young girls and women in the East African country.

Yegna, the five-member group, dubbed ‘Ethiopia’s Spice Girls,’ has been receiving funding from the UK government since 2013. The group has been awarded about £5.2 million to create a talk show, the Daily Mail reported.

As part of the contract, the all-girl pop group created to empower women through entertainment would use the funds to develop its brand and media platform which includes a radio drama show.

In 2015, the Independent Commission on Aid Impact reportedly warned British officials that the funding program should be stopped until its impact can be proven. Critics in Ethiopia, one of the UK’s highest aid recipient, say the money granted to Yegna could last the group for more than 100 years.

Despite the criticisms, UK officials say the foreign aid fund for the Girl Effect project in Ethiopia has a budget of £16 million. The project reportedly aims to change how “girls are valued and perceived in Ethiopian society,” the Independent reported.

“UK aid in Ethiopia is combating forced child marriage, violence, teen pregnancy, migration and scroll drop-out, which are holding a generation of Ethiopian women back,” the Department for International Development (DFID) said.

“In the Amhara region the UK’s work on girls and women, including Girl Effect, has averted or delayed marriage for nearly 40,000 girls.”

“Al programmes are kept under a review to ensure they are helping the world’s poorest and delivering value for UK taxpayers.”

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