DFID has a strong strategy for using its funding and influence to strengthen UN humanitarian agencies and global humanitarian practice, but its record to date in promoting practical reforms is mixed.
There has been a sharp rise in global humanitarian need over this decade, driven by large-scale conflicts in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan and the mass expulsion of Rohingya people from Burma. Consequently, in 2017 the UK spent 10% of the aid budget on humanitarian responses (£1.4 billion).
DFID programmes have expanded access to family planning and some maternal health services, but a renewed effort is required to reach young women and girls and to generate lasting impacts on quality of care and maternal health outcomes.
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.
DFID overcame substantial barriers to the delivery of aid, such as food, shelter and vaccines but took too long to put the required staffing and resources in place
The conflict in Syria has been one of the most brutal in modern history, costing nearly half a million lives, displacing more than 12 million people from their homes and leaving 5.6 million in severe humanitarian need in Syria.
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 UK’s approach to funding the UN humanitarian system
We are conducting of performance review to assess how well DFID uses its influence as a major funder of the United Nations (UN) humanitarian system to improve the effectiveness and value for money of multilateral humanitarian aid.
In 2016, the UK spent £1.3 billion on humanitarian assistance – about 10% of the aid budget. In 2015-16, more than £900 million was directed through the following UN humanitarian organisations:
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 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.
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.
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.
1. Purpose, scope and rationale
The purpose of this performance review is to assess the effectiveness of UK humanitarian aid to Syria. It will explore whether UK aid is being planned, managed and overseen so as to reach the intended beneficiaries and respond to their needs in a cost-effective manner. It is expected that lessons from the review will be applicable to the Department for International Development’s (DFID) management of large-scale humanitarian operations in complex and protracted crises in the future.
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.