Report: UK Direct Aid Approach Has Immediate Benefits But Needs Improvement

    The U.K.’s direct transfer of aid to vulnerable communities in developing countries has delivered “clear immediate benefits” but the Department for International Development’s approach needs to be improved and made more efficient, according to a U.K. government watchdog.

    In a report published Nov. 9, the National Audit Office notes the direct transfer of cash and in-kind aid to poor people represents good value for money. DfID, however, has not been able to optimize value for money because it “does not have sufficient analysis of costs of transfer programmes to know whether what it is spending represents the best possible value for money and is under-informed about efficiency.”

    The office said DfID could address these issues by sharpening the focus of its direct aid initiatives, developing a “clearer strategy” on its transfer programs, reviewing existing approaches to identify best practices and challenging DfID country teams to adopt these practices,” Public Finance reports.

    U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell welcomed NAO’s findings and recommendations, noting that the office’s report confirms the “coalition government’s successful use of direct transfers, getting financial and other resources directly into the hands of the poor people so they can make investments needed to lift themselves out of poverty.”

    DfID spent 192 million pounds ($305.81 million) on social protection programs, which include direct transfers, in fiscal 2010 to 2011. This was 4.5 percent of the U.K.’s total bilateral spending for that fiscal year and was primarily spent in nine focus countries, including Bangladesh and Kenya. DfID aims to provide direct transfers in 16 of its 28 focus countries by 2014, according to the Guardian.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.