How will DfID handle aid to corrupt nations in 2014?

Anti-corruption suggestion box. The United Kingdom has been criticized for giving millions in aid to corrupt governments. Photo by: Marcel Oosterwijk / CC BY-SA

The United Kingdom should expect more clamor for transparency and accountability on its foreign aid delivery as it is set to disburse more funds in 2014 — a feat that is already receiving a lot of scrutiny.

British aid has received lots of criticism in the past few years, like the risk of it falling in the hands of corrupt regimes.

Somalia — the world’s most corrupt country according to Transparency International’s annual index — has remained on the U.K. Department for International Development’s list of priority countries. The war-torn nation is set to receive a total of 243.9 million pounds until 2015. None of this money is currently channeled to the government as part of the agency’s anti-corruption strategy, but part of the aid is aimed at strengthening public financial management and building the capacity of local governments.

But not channeling aid to the government does not always safeguard U.K. aid money.

This was the case in 2011, when several aid agencies — among them DfID — reportedly paid Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab to gain access to their territories and reach people in need. In the past year, however, British Secretary for International Development Justine Greening has shown the agency won’t continue channeling funds to a country with serious corruption allegations, as in the Cashgate scandal in Malawi that forced President Joyce Banda to sack her full cabinet.

The United Kingdom however may have to up its efforts and take a more holistic approach in its fight against corruption.

While DfID has anti-corruption strategies in place for countries receiving its support, this does not cover countries such as North Korea, the second most corrupt in the world in Transparency International’s list and where some 750,000 pounds of U.K. aid is being handled by the Foreign Commonwealth Office.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.