UK Development Assistance for Security and Justice

5 Mar 2015

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has published a report today, on UK Development Assistance for Security and Justice.

Security and justice assistance is a necessary and important part of the UK aid portfolio and its significance will continue to grow as more of UK aid is devoted to fragile and conflict-affected states. Security and justice assistance, including support for policing, courts and community justice, accounted for £95 million of expenditure in 2013-14.

Our review has found that many of the activities in DFID’s security & justice programmes are not making enough of a difference to the lives of the poor. We believe that there is a need for critical reflection, both on the overall goals of the portfolio and on what objectives are realistic in complex operating environments.

We are concerned that the security & justice programmes suffer from a lack of management attention, which has led to unclear objectives and poor supervision of implementers. The lack of overall strategy has led to a repetition of a standard set of interventions, such as investing in model police stations, across very different contexts without a clear strategic or evidence based rationale. As a result of our findings, we have given a rating of Amber-Red.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner, said: “There is need for a significant rethink of DFID’s security and justice portfolio. DFID should move away from investing broadly in the capacity of security and justice institutions, towards addressing specific security and justice challenges in particular contexts. This would make interventions more focussed, realistic in scope and more effective.”

We have found that DFID’s security and justice portfolio is showing promising results in addressing some of the needs of women and girls, particularly through community-level initiatives. We fully support DFID’s conviction that tackling violence against women and girls should be integral to the UK development agenda. We believe that there are good foundations here on which DFID can continue to build.

Lead Commissioner, Diana Good, said ‘This is a vital area of development work which needs renewed attention. The work is most convincing when it focuses on addressing specific challenges for women and girls at community level. It is least convincing when trying to improve institutions such as the police. There we found DFID repeating activities which have little prospect for success and little evidence of practical benefit for the poor.’

We made the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1: DFID should develop a new strategy for more focussed and realistic security and justice assistance that emphasises tackling specific security and justice challenges in particular and local contexts. This should include working in a cross-disciplinary way to address wider security and justice themes, such as gender equality (including working with men), labour rights and urban insecurity.

Recommendation 2: DFID should identify the key evidence gaps across its security and justice portfolio and tailor its investments in research and innovation to fill those gaps. It should develop guidelines on how to ground programme design in sound contextual analysis and evidence of what works and on how to strengthen programme oversight, including management of political risk.

ICAI Report- UK Development Assistance for Security and Justice.

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