What’s new with DfID’s UK Aid Direct fund?

U.K. aid has helped support an innovative ambulance service that has helped reduce infant mortality by helping mothers and newborns with complications receive immediate medical attention. The first funding round under U.K. Aid Direct will support projects addressing health-related MDGs, including reducing child and infant mortality rates. Photo by: Nick Cunard / Department for International Development / CC BY-NC-ND

The first funding round for the U.K. Department for International Development’s new fund for small and midsize organizations is now open. And the first order of business is to support projects geared toward the achievement of health-focused Millennium Development Goals.

Up to 30 million pounds ($47.98 million) is available for the current funding round under U.K. Aid Direct, of which 10 percent is ring-fenced for small organizations whose annual income for the past three years did not exceed 1 million pounds, an eligibility requirement similar to its predecessor, the Global Poverty Action Fund.

The first round aims to support projects that will help reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and halt the spread of HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases like tuberculosis. Proposals addressing sexual and reproductive health and rights are also welcome.

Many of GPAF’s features are retained under U.K. Aid Direct:

▪ Organizations vying for funding have the option to apply under the community partnership window (community-level initiatives) or the impact window (larger-scale poverty reduction initiatives).

▪ The maximum grant size for each organization is 250,000 pounds under the community partnership window, and 4 million pounds under the impact window.

▪ Funding duration is three years.

▪ Small groups applying for funding under the community partnership window are not required to match a percentage of the funding, as opposed to at least 25 percent for organizations applying under the impact window.

▪ Only technical assistance projects will be considered for India and South Africa.

▪ The new fund will not fund projects focusing on research and humanitarian relief.

But there is a difference though in the list of countries where grant awardees can now carry out their projects. The fund will no longer support projects in Bhutan, Cambodia and Equatorial Guinea. And for technical assistance work in India and South Africa, the fund notes this should “involve the introduction of innovative approaches … [with] the potential to be scaled up to achieve wider application and impact.”

Small organizations and diaspora groups based in the U.K., however, are now eligible to apply.

The fund will run until March 2016, and is expected to address some of the weaknesses DfID found in its assessment of concept notes submitted under GPAF.

For example, many project proposals were found to provide little information or lacked supporting data that would clearly show the extent of the problem in a community. In addition, several proposals don’t clearly define target groups, lack sufficient evidence of consultation with potential beneficiaries during the project identification phase and sometimes have “unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved.” A number of proposals in conflict settings also did not seem to properly evaluate potential security risks, and in a few cases, proposals assume all activities focused on women will lead to their empowerment, while some addressed gender by including women and girls only.

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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.