Development Community Reacts to UK Aid Reviews

U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell speaks with flood-affected people in Pir Sabak, Pakistan, during his visit last year. Pakistan is among the countries that will be the focus of U.K. funding under an overhauled aid strategy of the British government. Photo by: Vicki Francis / Department for International Development

The British government on Mar. 1 said it would cease development funding for four United Nations agencies and 16 nations after unveiling the findings of its multilateral and bilateral aid reviews.

Below are some of the reactions from members of the aid community on the U.K. aid reviews.

“I am very pleased this important review of the United Kingdom’s multilateral funding has concluded that the Global Fund delivers excellent results and offers value for money. We also welcome the review’s suggestions for how we can do even better in the future.” - Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said in a press release sent to Devex.

“DFID’s (U.K. Department for International Development) review confirms that childhood immunisation delivers measurable results and offers our donors very good value for money in terms of development assistance to the world’s poorest countries.” -  Helen Evans, interim chief executive officer at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, said in a statement.

“The (U.K.) Government’s focus on fragile states is welcome - they are among the poorest places on earth. To make every penny count it is important that aid is allocated on the basis of need … [Britain] should do all it can to encourage the FAO to up its game and be ready to reward any improvements.” -  Barbara Stocking, Oxfam chief executive, said in a statement.

“What we are concerned about is the focus on a smaller number of countries, which actually takes money away from some of the world’s poorest countries, like Niger, Angola and Cambodia, and channels it into countries where there is deemed to be a higher security risk to the UK … The securitisation of aid is a real concern under the outcomes of this review.” - Julian Oram, head of policy at the World Development Movement, said as quoted by the Guardian.

“As things change in the world - as we are seeing in North Africa and the Middle East - it’s right to review our aid programme … But what should not and must not change is the commitment to spend 0.7% of our national income on aid by 2013. There must be no slipping back on that.” - Shadow international development secretary Harriet Harman said as quoted by BBC.

“ONE’s overall view of the reviews is a cautious welcome. We support the focus on reducing poverty and helping meet the Millennium Development Goals and the push to demonstrate value for money … However, we think there is a worrying lack of concrete investments in agriculture. More than 1 billion people, or 1 in 6, suffer from hunger. Global food prices are at an all time high and it is absolutely essential that DFID provide supports to help people increase the productivity of their farms, allowing them to feed their families and generate a sustainable income.” - Tom Wallace of advocacy organization ONE wrote in a blog post.

“These reviews are further evidence of the Government’s lack of vision, ambition and leadership on international development. From failing to keep the Gleneagles promises on the G8 agenda, to delaying the bribery act which would cut corruption in poor countries, Andrew Mitchell has shown himself unable or unwilling to lead … The rationale behind cutting aid to poor but stable countries must be more clearly outlined. Where a programme was badly run, reform, not cuts, is the answer.” - the Labour Campaign for International Development said in a statement.

“Clearly it is important to fund the World Food Programme, which provides relief in emergencies … But we have yet to understand why funding for the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), which seeks important structural changes to stop food shortages in the first place, is apparently under threat. DFID must not lose its focus on driving the structural and political changes that will ultimately eradicate poverty.” - Christian Aid director Loretta Minghella said in a statement.

“For sure, the countries with the largest [percentage] increases (Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan, DRC, Yemen) are fragile and conflict affected, but the percent of the bilateral spend going to MDG priorities such as health, education, water and sanitation and poverty and undernutrition increased significantly and totals 65%. Is a large increase in spending on girls’ schooling in Pakistan a “securitisation of aid” or simply a large increase in spending on girls’ education? Spending on Afghanistan, which had a 50% increase in funding in 10/11, stays flat until the end of the Review period and Iraq drops out altogether.” - Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies, wrote in a blog post.

“We welcome the focus on the most fragile countries where many of the world’s most vulnerable children live. However, at a time when the Government is taking such bold steps, it is a concern that funding to some of the world’s poorest countries, like Niger, is being stopped.” - World Vision U.K. Chief Executive Justin Byworth said in a statement.

“[T]he devil will be in the detail, and we look forward to seeing more information about how DFID will spend aid money in its new priority countries. For example, it’s great to focus on results, as long as support for the intangible things like building a country’s tax system or anti-corruption institutions continues alongside schools and bednets … The focus on fragile states, while important, should not jeopardise money allocated to poor but stable countries, particularly in Africa.” - Richard Miller, executive director of ActionAid U.K., said a statement.

“It is right for the UK to be putting more money into World Bank aid programmes, but the institution desperately needs reforming. The UK should use its clout as the second largest donor to the World Bank aid programme to demand it becomes fairer and more open and accountable.” - Malcolm Bruce, chair of the U.K. Parliament’s International Development Committee, said in a statement.

“It’s right to balance the needs of people living in fragile states with others living in extreme poverty … A middle-income country such as India, has more people living in extreme poverty than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, and these people are in desperate need of development assistance and must also be prioritised.” - Paul Cook, director of advocacy at Tearfund, said in a statement.

“It seems Lesotho has being singled out for being small. This decision will hit the country hard and the people it will most affect are the ordinary people of Lesotho. There is no logic to the decision on the grounds of poverty. The British aid programme was one of the largest to Lesotho and we urge a rethink of this decision.” - Tony Dykes, director for Action for Southern Africa, said in a statement.

“We are particularly pleased that the review includes a systematic model for assessing the need for aid, as we recommended … There is no ‘magic formula’ to decide how UK’s aid should be distributed between countries. The fact that the government has been transparent about the logic of their decision-making makes it possible for us to hold them to account.” - Amy Pollard, lead aid analyst at the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, said in a statement.

“In order to translate the bold rhetoric and strong political support into action, the International Development Secretary (and his department) has an unapologetic focus on results and hard-nosed approach to aid effectiveness … The UK’s results focus is not surprising and as been a mantra for some time now, and for any donor looking to improve value for money, DFID is a good case study to consider.” - Matthew Morris, a research fellow at the Crawford School and deputy director of the Development Policy Center, wrote in the “Development Policy” blog.

“[I]t would have been interesting to learn more about country selection. Why 27, I wonder, and why this 27? Attention has focused on the termination of aid to China and Russia, the freezing of aid to India, and also the phasing out of aid to Burundi, Gambia and Lesotho, among others. The countries which remain represent quite a range, with several middle income countries, including South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, among them.” - Simon Maxwell, a senior research associate of the Overseas Development Institute, wrote in his blog.

“The two aid reviews are laid out to demonstrate DFID’s accountability and transparency to British taxpayers (‘value for money’ is heavily emphasized), efforts we very much welcome; we hope that as DFID begins to see the results of its programs – whether good or bad –, these levels of accountability and transparency will maintained, to taxpayers in the UK and to the governments and especially people of aid recipient countries as well.” - Nancy Birdsall, the Center for Global Development’s founding president, and Rita Perakis, a program coordinator working on aid effectiveness at CGDev, wrote in a joint blog post.

“The DFID proposal is striking in its clear articulation of the top priorities in each of its partner countries and then in outlining how those goals would be achieved. Yes, we could quibble that many of the goals are being driven by the need to show success, so goals chosen are those that are easily measured or perhaps are low hanging fruit. But, let’s give them credit for actually backing up rhetoric with what seems like a workable plan.” - Connie Veillette, director of the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance initiative, wrote in a blog.

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About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.