When aid relationships change: DFID’s approach to managing exit and transition in its development partnerships

Managing the transition from traditional aid to new kinds of development partnerships is increasingly important for the Department for International Development (DFID) in the current aid landscape.

Score: Amber/Red
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 16 November 2016
  3. Type: Performance review
  4. Subject: Transitioning development partnerships
  5. Assessment: Amber/Red
  6. Location: Burundi, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam
  7. Lead commissioner: Francesca Del Mese


The topic of transition is of considerable importance to the future of UK development cooperation. Patterns of global development finance are changing rapidly. In developing countries, domestic revenues and private financial flows are growing faster than official development assistance (ODA). At the July 2015 International Conference on Financing for Development, it was recognised that, in the future, ODA will increasingly be used to leverage other sources of development finance, rather than fund development programmes directly. As the International Development Committee concluded, this means that the Department for International Development (DFID) needs to look “beyond aid” to other ways of supporting international development – such as catalytic investments, knowledge partnerships and cooperation on global challenges like climate change and irregular migration. DFID’s approach to transitioning to new aid partnerships is a key element in how it positions itself to meet these new “beyond aid” challenges.

This review examines how well DFID has managed the transition of its partnerships with developing countries following decisions to end bilateral aid. Since a 2011 decision to consolidate DFID aid into 28 priority countries, (later increased to 32), UK bilateral aid has been phased out in whole or in part in 18 countries. In some cases, this meant an end to the development partnership; in others, there has been a transition to new partnerships, including on economic development and global development challenges.

Overall we awarded an amber-red score and made four recommendations.



Published 26 May 2016

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 16 November 2016

Government response

Published 16 February 2017

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 14 December 2016

ICAI follow-up

Completed 29 June 2018