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An appropriate overall approach to procurement with good performance in most areas of tendering, but significant weaknesses in contract management.
In 2016-17, the Department for International Development (DFID) spent £1.4 billion, or 14% of its budget, through commercial suppliers on contracts ranging from school construction to family planning services and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
ICAI’s follow-up review looks at how well DFID and other government departments have responded to our key findings and the recommendations we made in 2016-17 reviews.
Each year we conduct a follow-up assessment of ICAI reviews from the previous year. This process is an important step in the chain of accountability, providing the International Development Committee (IDC) and wider development stakeholders with evidence on whether the government has taken appropriate action in response to ICAI’s recommendations.
Around one in six people in developing countries live with a disability. As a group, they tend to be poorer, and suffer more discrimination, exclusion and violence than the rest of the population.
The UK government played a significant role in getting disability included as a central concern of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, but since then has been slower in systematically including the concerns and challenges facing people living with disability in its own programming.
The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund’s aid spending
Shortcomings in aid programmes delivered as part of the government’s CSSF are undermining its contribution to building peace, stability and security.
The intensification of destructive conflict in a number of countries and regions since 2010 is widening the poverty gap between conflict-affected and other developing countries.
DFID has taken a well-considered approach to mainstreaming resilience to natural disasters, and has helped to promote the inclusion of resilience into the global development agenda.
Natural disasters and climate-related extreme weather events are increasing in scale and frequency. In 2017, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria caused widespread devastation in the Caribbean, and in South Asia heavy monsoon rain took 1,200 lives and affected 40 million people.
Global Challenges Research Fund
The cross-government Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) has the potential to help address major global development challenges, but risks being spread too thinly to achieve transformative results.
The GCRF, a research and science focused aid fund, has a budget of £1.5bn over five years, which contributes towards the government’s 0.7% aid target.
The UK aid response to global health threats
While health has been a major focus of UK aid for many years, the response to and lessons from the Ebola crisis stimulated a rapid scaling up of activity and spending to address global health threats.
The Department for International Development’s approach to value for money is helping to make UK aid spending go further, but improvements are still needed.
All UK government departments are required to achieve value for money in their use of public funds. In recent years, DFID has been working to build value for money considerations further into its management processes and its relationships with implementers and multilateral partners, establishing itself as a global champion on value for money.
1. Purpose, scope and rationale
ICAI has decided to conduct a review of DFID’s contribution to improving maternal health. It will be an impact review, as this is a mature area of UK aid programming for which there is a broad range of evidence about what works. It is also an area in which DFID has set itself ambitious targets and reported significant results.
ICAI is conducting a review of the Conflict Security and Stability Fund (CSSF) – a major new cross-government aid fund. The CSSF is overseen by the National Security Council (NSC) and provides money to support projects intended to prevent conflict, increase stability and respond to international crises.
The UK aid strategy outlines a commitment to increasing UK aid investment on global health risks, including infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. Global health threats are of increasing concern to the international community, as well as representing a challenge to British interests. The recent Ebola crisis in West Africa served to highlight the considerable risks that infectious disease epidemics pose to development.
Disaster Resilience – defined by DFID as “the ability of countries, communities and households to manage change, by maintaining or transforming living standards in the face of shocks or stresses – such as earthquakes, drought or violent conflict – without compromising their long-term prospects” – is now a prominent concept in DFID’s strategy.
With several African countries threatened by famine and fears that climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, this is an opportune time to assess the performance of DFID’s programming on disaster resilience.
ICAI’s follow-up review looks at how well DFID and other government departments have responded to the recommendations it made in previous reviews.
The UK’s aid response to irregular migration in the central Mediterranean
UK aid interventions designed to address irregular migration through the central Mediterranean are currently some distance from making a measurable impact, a new review has found. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) – which scrutinises taxpayer-funded UK aid – also warned that there is a risk that some programmes supported by UK aid in the region could cause unintended harm to vulnerable migrants.
ICAI examined how well the Department for International Development (DFID) used cash transfer programmes to reduce poverty and vulnerability.
The review found that the transfers – which include any regular payments made to individuals or households – had consistently increased incomes and consumption levels among some of the world’s poorest people, and presented a strong value for money case.
The global migration crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing the international community today.
The UK Government has pledged to address the root causes of irregular migration and to facilitate the adoption of safe, responsible policies and solutions for migrants. The UK Aid Strategy recognises that violence and conflict in Africa and the Middle East are causing unprecedented migration flows to Europe and sets out intentions to build stability and tackle the root causes of conflict.
ICAI’s latest review finds that UK aid has reached 62.9 million people with water, sanitation and hygiene interventions over five years, but must do more to ensure these improvements are sustainable.
The review highlighted sustainability as an area of particular concern, with not enough being done to ensure that improved WASH access was becoming a permanent part of people’s lives.
DFID needs to do more to address long-term problems like water security, maintenance of infrastructure, strengthening local institutions so they can manage services, and changing behaviour.
Over the period 2007-11, the UK Government was the second largest donor to UNICEF, contributing £690 million. The review looks at the impact and effectiveness of DFID’s partnership with UNICEF.
This report provides insight into the UK’s relationship with UNICEF by examining delivery of a range of aid programmes in Africa. The report recognises that UNICEF is delivering tangible benefits but that DFID needs to manage UNICEF as a strategic partner and provide greater clarity to UNICEF with regard to its role in and expectations of each programme.
The UK government has made a strong commitment to using the aid programme to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG) in developing countries. The challenge is a daunting one. VAWG is deeply rooted in cultural norms and unequal power relations between women and men. One in three women around the world experiences intimate partner violence, and other forms of VAWG are also widespread. As well as being a violation of women’s fundamental human rights, VAWG has profound personal, social and economic consequences.
The UK government has committed to spending 50% of DFID’s budget in fragile states and regions – many of which are affected by conflict. In these complex environments delivering effective and accountable aid is a significant challenge, but they are also the environments where needs are greatest.