The UK aid response to COVID-19

This review examines the prioritisation and redirection of UK aid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 21 October 2021
  3. Type: Rapid review
  4. Subject: Government processes and systems
  5. Lead commissioner: Sir Hugh Bayley

Latest news

We have conducted a rapid review that examines the UK aid response to COVID-19. We have published our review and made three recommendations to the government.

Summary

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.

Timeline

Approach

Published 5 May 2021

Evidence gathering

Completed

Review publication

Published 21 October 2021

Government response

Expected December 2021

ICAI follow-up

Details to be confirmed

Further scrutiny

Details to be confirmed