South Africa: UK aid withdrawal prompts donor diversification

Lazola Bibi, a volunteer for DfID-supported Isibindi Child and Youth Care Workers, visits Bongile, one of the children she helps care for in South Africa. The U.K. government's announcement to end bilateral assistance to South Africa by 2015 could affect many non-governmental organizations in the country. Photo by: Lindsay Mgbor / DfID / CC BY

The U.K.’s decision to end bilateral aid to South Africa by 2015 underscores the growing need for implementing partners — especially NGOs — to diversify their sources of funding to fill the void left by cash-strapped traditional donors.

The British Department for International Development’s announcement in May reflects a growing donor perception — that this emerging economy and donor nation no longer needs foreign aid. U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening says the South African government, like the Indian government before, can now pretty much handle its own development challenges, and other donors seem to be on the same page.

The United States is set to scale down its health footprint in South Africa with a reduced U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief allocation in the next five years that could go down to as low as $250 million by 2017, a move that is sure to drive aid groups working in the HIV/AIDS sector to scramble for funds in a country that is a unique case in Africa: A regional economic powerhouse and middle-income nation that nevertheless still suffers substantial poverty.

South Africa’s second largest donor, the European Union, has yet to reveal its spending plans for the next seven years, but there is a chance that South Africa could fall off Brussels’ list of priority countries, especially with the donor’s increasing focus on fragile states.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    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.