As the U.K. secretary of state for international development, Andrew Mitchell says his top priority is for the country to “start delivering the results that will change the world.”
Mitchell reaffirmed his commitment to a strong focus on achieving results and extracting the most value for U.K. aid funds in a speech he delivered June 8 at the London-based Royal College of Pathologists.
“I was clear from the very outset that under my stewardship DFID would embrace a relentless focus on results,” Mitchell said. “This evening I want to set out our vision for international development and explain why I have insisted on this emphasis on results. By spending time getting right the why, the what, the where and the how of development, I believe that the ensuing results have the capacity to add up to something far more significant – something that can transform communities, societies and economies.”
The secretary emphasized that his vision goes beyond accountancy and bean-counting and addressed criticisms that the U.K.’s focus on results could lead to a focus on short-term, measurable gains instead of on long-term development solutions.
“Don’t be misled into thinking our focus on results means we’ll avoid doing the harder things just because they’re difficult to measure. It doesn’t and we won’t,” Mitchell said. “We will be guided by what we can achieve not just by how much it costs to achieve it.”
Mitchell identified examples of how the United Kingdom is already working to achieve results in its aid-recipient countries, through vaccination and immunization campaigns, mobile health clinics, mobile banking and education for girls.
Further, Mitchell hinted on plans to transform the Department of International Development into a more influential department.
“We are helping to build a new DfID, much closer to the center of decision making, playing its full part within a joined-up government – and in turn, shaping and influencing the whole of government policy to be development-friendly,” he said. “DfID as a grown-up Department of State for Development, not just a narrowly-focused unit for administering aid well.”
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