Foreign Affairs Committee publishes ICAI evidence on the global influence of UK aid

15 Jul 2020

A new paper from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) about the role of UK aid in boosting the country’s impact and influence in the world has been published today by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

The evidence note, produced to support the committee’s ongoing inquiry into the government’s Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and development, draws on a number of previous ICAI reviews, providing examples of where UK aid has enhanced the UK’s international leadership in tackling pressing global challenges, and identifying the key elements of successful global influence.

The report also looks at the systems and capacities that aid-spending government departments need in order to achieve value for money, including compliance with Official Development Assistance (ODA) rules, strong management of projects, risks and results, and high standards of learning and transparency.

ICAI chief commissioner Dr Tamsyn Barton said: “The government has signalled its intention to align aid and development with wider foreign policy objectives, in order to strengthen the UK’s global impact and influence.

“Our evidence note draws on nine years of ICAI experience to identify issues that we believe merit consideration by the committee as they carry out their inquiry into the Integrated Review.”

The note sets out that since 2015, more aid is being spent by departments other than the Department for International Development (DFID), requiring these departments to build aid-management capacity very rapidly. It highlights that ICAI has helped to ensure more effective use of aid in recently established programmes.  For example, the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), which was set up to enable the UK to respond quickly and flexibly to cases such as the Colombian peace process and the retreat of Daesh in Iraq, responded positively to ICAI’s recommendations in an earlier review, reducing potential human rights abuses.

The paper also considers how the UK can maintain its reputation for development excellence and its leadership role in tackling pressing global challenges during the forthcoming merger of DFID with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Although ICAI is clear that details of the merger are a matter for the government, it has identified four key “principles” for consideration – build on existing capabilities; maintain a commitment to the international ODA definition, poverty reduction and the global public interest; meet global aid transparency standards; and independent scrutiny.

The ICAI reviews that the paper draws on include How UK Aid Learns; The cross-government Prosperity Fund; The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund’s aid spending; The UK aid response to global health threats; The UK’s work with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Assessing DFID’s results in improving maternal health, and Reducing conflict and fragility in Somalia.

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