UK Aid Policies 'Contradict Each Other', Says Columnist

Aid policies being introduced by U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell “flatly contradict each other” and could imperil long-term poverty reduction efforts, a columnist of the Guardian argues.

In trying to make the case [defending the aid budget to the U.K. public], he [Mitchell] seems to be leading his department in several, dangerously contradictory, directions at the same time,” writes Madeleine Bunting, who is also an associate editor of the U.K.-based newspaper.

Bunting points out Mitchell’s strategy to tie more U.K. aid to the country’s national security strategy, which she says contradicts the minister’s three-part mantra of focusing on results, value for money and transparency.

“The odd thing is that not one of the three-point Mitchell mantra is compatible with putting 30 percent of aid into conflict and fragile states. You try coming up with ‘results’ or ‘value for money’ in Yemen or Afghanistan,” Bunting shares in an opinion piece on the Guardian.

She also notes the Mitchell and the U.K. government’s shift to a results-based aid approach runs the risk of seeking easily measurable results while sacrificing initiatives with longer-term benefits that are not easily measurable, if at all.

“How do you measure strengthening civil society in a developing country to campaign against corruption? How do you measure strengthening the capacity of a finance ministry? This is the kind of thing which British aid has been rightly used for in recent years but it doesn’t fare well by Mitchell’s measures,” Bunting argues.

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.