Independent Commission for Aid Impact publishes report: Assessing the Impact of the Scale-up of DFID’s Support to Fragile States

12 Feb 2015

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has published a report today, ‘Assessing the Impact of the Scale-up of DFID’s Support to Fragile States’.

The UK Government has committed to spending 30% of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in fragile states by 2014-15, an increase from £1.8 billion of bilateral ODA (2011-12) to £3.4 billion (2014-15). DFID has increased its focus on fragile states – countries which are prone to some of the highest levels of poverty, have seriously weak systems and create wider security challenges. This important ‘scale-up’ decision was taken in 2010 and was part of a cross-Government agenda. The targeted volume of expenditure and the planned pace of the increases was out of step with the capacity of DFID, its partners and, most importantly, the countries themselves to deliver. As a result of these findings, we have given a marking of Amber-Red.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner, said: “DFID will be able to end extreme poverty only through a focus on fragile states. The decision to scale up funding in these environments is, therefore, logical. It has taken DFID four years, however, for scale-up to start to deliver impact. Transformative impact in fragile states will take a generation to achieve and is dependent upon development of in-country state capacity. This was insufficiently recognised at the start of scaling-up, where increased funding was directly linked to assumed greater impact.”

Lead Commissioner, Mark Foster, said, “DFID has, over the past four years, been on a steep learning curve over how to be more effective in fragile states.  It now needs to apply these lessons vigorously and thoughtfully across these environments, as more money is committed in the years ahead.”

ICAI has made five recommendations to support DFID’s future support to fragile states:

Recommendation 1: DFID needs to develop fresh coherent guidance on working in fragile states, drawing on adaptations developed at country level, new research and learning and the evolved systems being developed in DFID centrally.

Recommendation 2: DFID should ensure that country level targets realistically reflect the challenges of scaling-up and longer term timescales needed for lasting impact in fragile states and calibrate funding accordingly. The targets should reflect the entire country portfolio, taking account of small as well as large programming through qualitative and quantitative targets.

Recommendation 3: DFID needs to provide guidance on the inclusion of targeted infrastructure components in development programmes to enhance sustainable impact in fragile states programming.

Recommendation 4: DFID needs to define its appetite for risk in fragile environments: there needs to be explicit alignment between the centre and the field about potential for failure and its consequences.

Recommendation 5: DFID should leverage its learning about operating in fragile states and take a clearer global leadership role with the international community to advance thinking on effective approaches.

The report is available here: ICAI Report-Assessing the Impact of the Scale-up of DFID’s Support to Fragile States.

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