We conducted a rapid review examining the UK aid response to COVID-19 and made three recommendations to the government. We’ve followed up on the government’s progress implementing our recommendations and we will return again to reassess outstanding issues in 2024. Find out more in the ‘Further scrutiny‘ tab.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a rapidly evolving emergency in developing countries. In some cases, healthcare infrastructure was overwhelmed. Travel restrictions and social isolation measures led to loss of livelihoods and limited access to services. Humanitarian supplies to existing emergencies were interrupted. There was extensive disruption to a wide range of development initiatives, including education and vaccinations. National economies contracted sharply, unemployment spiralled and developing countries faced sharp falls in income from tax revenues, investment, tourism and remittances, causing liquidity crisis and rising debt levels.
During 2020, the UK aid programme was reprioritised to support the UK’s international response to the COVID-19 pandemic and mobilise support for developing countries. There were two main phases of aid reprioritisation in 2020, in May and June. There was also a major reprioritisation within the DFID/FCO countries portfolio, often through the redirection of existing programmes.
This rapid review assesses how well the UK government prioritised and directed its official development assistance (ODA) in response to the pandemic.