ICAI Reports on Aid to Afghanistan, Girl Hub and the World Bank

22 Mar 2012

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), the organisation responsible for the scrutiny of UK aid, has today published three new reports. Each report gives a traffic light rating on the performance of DFID as follows:

The Effectiveness of Engagement with the World Bank:            Green-Amber
Programme Controls and Assurance in Afghanistan:                Amber-Red
Girl Hub – a DFID and Nike Foundation Initiative:                       Amber-Red

The Effectiveness of DFID’s Engagement with the World Bank

Over the last five years DFID has contributed £5.1bn to the World Bank. The ICAI review considers the effectiveness of DFID’s engagement with the World Bank, focussing on the International Development Association (IDA), the part of the World Bank which supports the poorest countries. The report concludes that DFID engages effectively with the World Bank to influence priorities and improve effectiveness but some improvements could be made.

  • Overall assessment: Green-Amber.
  • DFID exerts influence on the World Bank at strategic, policy and operational levels. DFID is effective at building relationships to make progress on its priorities.
  • DFID’s oversight of the World Bank has evolved in the light of experience and good practice. DFID worked with the Bank and other donors to ensure that its expertise influenced reform discussions.
  • There is no single point of accountability within DFID for overseeing the management of World Bank trust funds. DFID allocates a significant amount of resources to trust funds and should improve its oversight and develop a strategy for allocating resources in line with UK aid objectives.
  • DFID should work with the World Bank to improve service delivery cost-effectively in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner said: “The findings from our review of the World Bank broadly align with those of DFID’s Multilateral Aid Review. We believe that DFID engages effectively with the Bank but that it could do more to help to drive improvements in the cost-effectiveness and performance of the Bank’s projects.”

DFID’s Programme Controls and Assurance in Afghanistan

DFID manages its programmes in Afghanistanin exceptionally difficult circumstances. It has a highly respected and experienced team and a professional reputation amongst other organisations. The ICAI report on DFID’s Programme Controls and Assurance in Afghanistan finds, however, that DFID’s financial management processes are insufficiently robust given the challenges of the environment.

  • Overall assessment: Amber-Red.
  • DFID does not fully document the risk of leakage in Afghanistanand does not perform thorough risk assessments. DFID should make explicit how it is assessing and considering this risk.
  • DFID lacks visibility of financial management throughout its delivery chains. DFID needs to deploy people with more financial and procurement skills to improve its financial grip on the delivery chain and reduce risk.
  • DFID places too much reliance on partners to take appropriate action in detecting fraud and corruption. DFID should strengthen managing agent agreements and specify levels of control and assurance that it expects.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner said:  “DFID’s planned expenditure on bilateral aid to Afghanistan is £178 million in 2011-12. We acknowledge that DFID has to manage this programme in an extremely complex and challenging environment. Our view, however, is that DFID does not give sufficient importance to identifying and managing risks in the design and delivery of programmes inAfghanistan.”

Girl Hub: a DFID and Nike Foundation Initiative

Girl Hub was established by DFID and the Nike Foundation to help decision-makers and donors do more to address the needs and rights of adolescent girls. The ICAI review found that Girl Hub is widely seen as playing a useful role in getting adolescent girls more firmly onto the development agenda. It has been operating for two years and has spent £2.9 million of its £15.6 million budget. Whilst still in the early stages, Girl Hub’s measureable impact on girls to date is limited and there have been shortcomings in planning and governance.

  • Overall assessment: Amber-Red.
  • DFID should assess whether and, if so, how this model should be continued and made sustainable.
  • Girl Hub should focus more sharply on how it will make a difference. It should not only measure the success of each programme but also measure how effectively programmes are linked to each other and to wider initiatives.
  • In establishing Girl Hub, DFID did not ensure that the appropriate risk, governance and financial management policies were in place. Girl Hub should implement these policies and processes and ensure messaging is clear and consistent and that the roles of each organisation (Girl Hub, DFID and Nike Foundation) are transparent.
  • DFID should reflect on the Girl Hub experience in order to learn how it can promote innovation internally in a way that manages risk, including how partnerships with the private sector and private foundations should be implemented.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner said: “The idea of Girl Hub is ambitious and aims to bring new ways of thinking into DFID and the wider development community. But we found significant shortcomings in Girl Hub’s governance and plans to translate its vision into tangible outcomes for adolescent girls. This is a good time for DFID to re-evaluate whether and, if so, how this model should be continued and made sustainable.”

Notes to editors:
For further information please contact Clare Robathan on 020 7270 6734 or


The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) is the independent body responsible for scrutinising UK aid. We focus on maximising the effectiveness of the UK aid budget for intended beneficiaries and on delivering value for money for UK taxpayers. For further details on ICAI, the workplan and for links to each report please visit www.independent.gov.uk/icai.

ICAI’s Chief Commissioner is Graham Ward CBE. The three other Commissioners are: Mark Foster, John Githongo and Diana Good. Their biographies can be found on the ICAI website.

These reports were prepared by ICAI with the assistance of KPMG LLP, Agulhas Applied Knowledge, Center of Evaluationfor Global Action (CEGA) and the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU International).

ICAI reports are written to be accessible to a general readership and we use a simple ‘traffic light’ system to report our judgement on each programme or topic we review, as follows:

  • Green: The programme meets all or almost all of the criteria for effectiveness and value for money and is performing strongly. Very few minor improvements are needed.
  • Green-Amber: The programme meets most of the criteria for effectiveness and value for money and is performing well. Some improvements should be made.
  • Amber-Red: The programme meets some of the criteria for effectiveness and value for money but is not performing well. Significant improvements should be made.
  • Red: The programme meets few of the criteria for effectiveness and value for money. It is performing poorly. Immediate and major changes need to be made.

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