Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Progress Report on Safeguarding Against Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH) in the International Aid Sector 2020-2021

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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A summary of work led or supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office between October 2020 and October 2021 to improve global standards and performance on safeguarding against sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the international aid sector.

1. Overview

Donors, alongside seven other groups, made commitments at the Safeguarding Summit in 2018 intended to bring about four strategic shifts to prevent and better respond to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) in the international development sector. This report updates on progress that the Foreign,
Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has made against the 22 donor commitments since our October 2020 progress update.
Annex A summarises progress across all UK Government Departments who spend ODA (Official Development Assistance) in implementing the UK safeguarding strategy for the aid sector published in September 2020.
Highlights of FCDO’s work on safeguarding against SEAH over the past year, include: » firmly embedding tackling SEAH into FCDO’s policies and procedures following the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development; » continuing to drive change and increased capability across the domestic and international aid sector, including via the UK’s G7 Presidency; and » funding programmes and building alliances to identify perpetrators and provide improved support to survivors and victims.
FCDO has either completed, or is acting on, all 22 of the donor summit commitments, while also going beyond them as we seize other opportunities to strengthen safeguarding in the aid sector. A list of the donor summit commitments is provided in Annex B. Throughout the report actions described are linked to specific summit commitments for ease of reference and when a commitment number is mentioned in brackets it is referring to that number commitment as set out in Annex B.
Despite the reduction in the UK’s ODA budget in 2021, funding for core FCDO work on SEAH has continued and spending is expected to be higher in the 12 months to April 2022 compared to the previous 12 months.
COVID-19 slowed delivery of some work such as ensuring survivor-centred approaches, building a new international framework for SEAH data management and driving cultural change.
COVID-19 has also produced new risks which we continue to work to mitigate, including linked to COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.
Hundreds of new safeguarding incidents were reported to FCDO in the past year and we suspect that many more have not been reported, both of which underline the extent of the remaining challenge and the need for a continued focus on safeguarding against SEAH across all international development work and also other areas of FCDO’s work.
FCDO’s work on safeguarding has remained subject to considerable scrutiny, for example by the UK Parliament’s International Development Select Committee and the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI). We welcome these opportunities to learn and make further improvements which also contribute to accountability and transparency for FCDO’s work on safeguarding.