Sounding off on how to make UK aid more effective

A woman collects UK-funded food aid from a distribution point in the Dulag municipality of Leyte, Philippines. Photo by: Jess Seldon / Department for International Development / CC BY

The latest report from the British Parliament’s International Development Committee has got many people talking. In it, the committee recommends that the U.K. government explore new ways of working with developing countries which goes beyond providing aid.

Leni Wild, team leader for public goods and services at the Overseas Development Institute, agreed with the message of the committee’s report, telling Devex that ODI’s own research “reinforces the point [that] this is not just about financing,” given that developing countries that have been experience a boost in economic growth or aid spending still “very uneven progress in basic things.”

Devex members have debated the issue over the past week.

DfID should make sure it pursues a people-centered development strategy, a few readers said.

“If we make it essential for every UK Aid funded project to ensure engagement with primary stakeholders: the people and enable them to inform and influence the decision making processes in the the project design, development and delivery. We would expect some change,” KDF Kashmir wrote.

Moepi Sematlane suggested any effective aid program should take into account local capacity and work culture and allow locals to drive aid-funded programs with well-defined objectives that respond to what the people deem as priorities.

Aid agencies must ensure that what people want is not interpreted by local corrupt elites for their own benefit and applying clear criteria “to screen out populist initiatives which are not sustainable” over investments targeting long-term, systemic impact, P. Elliz wrote, as such strong, accountable and competent institutions are critical to make effective local people-driven development programs.

Apart from that, said Tom Minney, it’s important to understand the long-term impact of aid projects, including by following up with beneficiaries a few years after funding has dried up.

But that’s not happening most of the time, Jindra Cekan noted: “Because if we don't learn from what did or didn't work, we don't know what to do more/ or less/ of!”

How can U.K. aid programs be more effective? Chime in by leaving a comment below.

Stay tuned for more U.K. election coverage and news, views and analysis on how this impacts DfID and U.K. aid in the coming weeks. To explore additional content, visit the Future of DfID series site, follow us on Twitter and tweet using the hashtag #FutureofDfID.

The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect Devex's editorial views.

About the author

  • Ma. Eliza Villarino

    Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.