DFID's Role in UK Focus on Fragile States

With the U.K. preparing to double its assistance to fragile states to 3.8 billion pounds (USD5.9 billion) by 2014, the Department for International Development should be transformed into “the world leader” in addressing problems of conflict-torn countries, two experts say.

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DfID should be remodeled “extensively” and focus on developing “preventive agenda for fragile states,” Alex Evans and David Steven, nonresident fellows at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, recommend in their Chatham House paper, “Organizing for Influence: UK Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty.”

“Fragile states need lots and lots of high-level expertise – not oodles of dosh. But DFID is probably going to be forced to make job cuts as a result of the spending review. So it’s going to have more money, tougher challenges to deal with, but fewer people. Something has to give,” Steven writes in the “Global Dashboard.”

The solution: The British government “should make it clear that where a poor country’s main need is financial, the UK will not necessarily maintain a country office – but will instead reduce transaction costs by partnering with other effective donors, or simply channelling funds through multilateral institutions such as the World Bank,” the two authors write in their Chatham House report.

This will allow DfID to effectively deploy its limited staff, “focusing on political influence rather than on administering aid budgets, and on strengthening coordination across an international community that usually lacks common purpose or strategy,” according to Evans and Steven.

About the author

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    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.