International development aid is a lifeline to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. We should be proud that the UK is committed to spending money on helping those that need it the most. However, a Greenpeace investigation has revealed how British government diplomacy and foreign aid have been used to pave the way for UK oil companies to explore for oil in Lake Malawi, where the UN warns that a spill could wreck the fragile ecosystem. [1]

Aid has the power to transform people’s lives and lift them out of poverty, but drilling in places like Lake Malawi could put the same people’s livelihoods at risk.

Aid should never be used as a bargaining tool for business, at the expense of people and the environment, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Tell Priti Patel the International Development Minister that aid is for people and not for oil by signing this petition.

Drilling for oil around Lake Malawi will threaten a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Africa’s most iconic lakes as well as driving more climate change in a country that’s already bearing the brunt of it. The lake supports the livelihoods of more than 1.5 million people living on its shores – it’s also home to Nile crocodiles, hippos, monkeys, and African fish eagles.

Rafiq Hajat, chair of the International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa, a network of organisations across the continent, explained: “If there was any spill on Lake Malawi It would take up to 700 years to replenish… Malawi will never benefit from this oil, just look at Nigeria, one of the biggest oil producers in the world, but every day there are people queuing for fuel, there are power cuts. This is not a blessing it is a curse.” [2]

It’s not just Malawi. The investigation also found that another British company, Tullow Oil, was offered financial support by the UK government to explore for oil in one of Africa’s oldest national parks in Uganda, home to an endangered species of giraffe.

And it gets worse. British officials also lobbied senior Zambian ministers to help oil firm Tullow win a license covering three major national parks in the country. The purpose of aid is to end poverty, not destroy the planet. Now Priti Patel wants to make the problem worse by linking aid to trade deals, but she’s badly wrong. Priti Patel wants to blur the lines between what’s in the interest of the countries we’re supposed to help and what will boost the profits of British firms. [3]

It’s one thing to make sure that taxpayer-funded aid money is spent effectively, and quite another to use it to grease the wheels for the oil industry. Please – I will never have the health to visit the place, but I would like to know that places like Lake Malawi are safe for future generations; please sign the petition.

It could prove difficult to change Priti Patel’s mind. But if thousands of us sign this petition and create public anger around this issue, it won’t be easy for the minister to ignore us.

Here is the petition.


[1] Oil frontiers: British government uses aid money to back oil drilling in UNESCO World Heritage Site:
[2] UK aid money spent trying to boost British role in Malawi oil sector:
[3] Britain to ‘leverage’ £11bn of foreign aid to build new trade deals after Brexit:

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