LONDON — The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development has approved a 4 million British pound ($5.5 million) grant to Bond for International Development through DFID’s new UK Aid Connect funding channel. Part of the award will go toward safeguarding measures in the wake of an ongoing scandal over sexual misconduct in the aid sector.
Bond, which convenes more than 400 nongovernmental organizations working on international development, applied for funding through UK Aid Connect last July. To date, Bond is the only organization to be told it has received funding under the scheme and the news came just as Bond concluded its annual two-day conference in London.
Awardees were supposed to be informed in January, according to the UK Aid Connect website, but are now expected “in March,” Benedict Latto, head of civil society at DFID told conference attendees on Tuesday.
Latto also said the UK aid community should expect an announcement about awardees of UK Aid Direct funding — DFID’s largest funding stream — “next week.”
Tamsyn Barton, chief executive officer of Bond, said the new DFID funding is especially timely as the aid sector struggles to respond to revelations about allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse across the sector. Part of the grant will go on improving safeguarding measures across humanitarian and development organizations.
Humanitarian aid workers should be subject to the same regulations, including background checks, as other sectors that work with children and vulnerable adults, aid bosses told a special government hearing called in the wake of the Oxfam sexual exploitation scandal.
“As we have seen over the last few weeks, working in collaboration across the sector and with a range of partners, is crucial in tackling these challenges,” Barton said, before going on to say that “one area where our members are asking for support is how to reach the highest standards in safeguarding and this funding will allow us to support our members in achieving this.”
Penny Mordaunt, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development, alluded to the surprise Bond funding announcement during a pre-vetted question and answer session which took place after her speech at the opening session of the conference on Monday.
“It is only through civil society organizations in the U.K. and also in the countries that we are seeking to assist that we will be able to hear the voice of those people that we are there to serve,” she said before going on to say, “I want to strengthen the role that civil society organizations play. I am making an announcement today of some new programming and new funding for Bond to help them do that.”
A DFID press release about the Bond award said that the U.K. aid department is “working closely with Bond to design a program of support for civil society organizations to strengthen their processes to ensure that the highest standards of transparency and safeguarding procedures are in place to protect vulnerable people.”
UK Aid Connect, which opened for bidding in March last year, will offer funding for programs across a range of thematic areas including disability, child labor, modern slavery, sexual and reproductive health and rights, addressing lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender inclusion, as well as global security and stability.
Little is known about the funding scheme, but it is designed to support coalitions of think tanks, public, private, and nonprofit organizations “to help find solutions to current complex situations whilst tackling tomorrow’s challenges,” as Devex reported at the time.
DFID described the scheme as focusing on creating “innovative solutions to the global challenges we face by working more closely with banks, tech companies, and research bodies” and said the fund will “also encourage a range of British charities to work collaboratively, share resources, and bring together knowledge, practice, and expertise for solutions to some of the most difficult development problems in a rapidly changing and complex world.”
“This includes encouraging cutting-edge technology to drive the changes needed to navigate the uncertain future ahead,” according to the statement.