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Reviewing DFID's Aid Review: Value for the Poor?


Earlier this afternoon, secretary of state for International Development Andrew Mitchell announced the results of DFID’s multilateral and bilateral aid reviews, which outlined the future of UK aid spending and emphasised the Coalition’s commitment to spend 0.7% of UK Gross National Income (GNI) on overseas development.

There is much to be proud of in light of the current economic climate that has forced drastic cuts in all but health and development. As Mitchell said, the Coalition’s promise to ring-fence development aid underscores its commendable pledge not to ‘balance the books’ on the backs of the poorest people on the planet.

We commend the Coalitiion’s commitment to maintaining 0.7% of GNI towards overseas development and turn our attention to where this will be spent.

Below are key summary points of key themes and outcomes of the reviews. Many of these focus on ensuring value for money and an increased focus on reducing poverty in many conflict affected states. When reviewing these for yourself, we encourage you to ask the question: does the Coalition’s approach deliver real results not just for the British public, but the poorest of the poor?

Value for Money

In line with the Coalition’s stated desire to deliver more tangible results to the UK taxpayer:

  • The UK is ending development aid to 16 countries: Angola, Bosnia, Burundi, Cameroon, Cambodia, China, Gambia, Indonesia, Iraq, Kosovo, Lesotho, Moldova, Niger, Russia, Serbia and Vietnam
  • Countries receiving substantial increases in bilateral aid include: Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo  
  • Aid to India is frozen and assistance is being channelled only to its 3 poorest states  
  • Bilateral Aid will remain in the following 27 countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe
  • 4 multilateral agencies are losing DFID funding and 4 more are being warned to increase their accountability and prove their performance

National Interest

Mitchell argued that aid can be used to enhance UK security: “It’s very much in our national interest to tackle these effects of dysfunctionality and poverty, such as piracy, migration, terrorism and disease in Somalia. Tackling the causes of poverty upstream is much less expensive than sending in troops.”

In light of Mitchell’s September 2010 speech “Development in an Uncertain World,” the Strategic Defence and Security Review “Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty” released in October 2010, and today’s speech to the House of Commons, there is widespread concern about UK aid being prioritised for enhanced UK security.

Mitchell has also emphasised that conflict is intimately linked with extreme poverty, as evidenced by the daily struggles of millions just to get by in the world’s most fragile states, such as the DRC and Afghanistan. As he stressed in his statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, the 27 countries that will continue to have bilateral UK aid programs account for ¾ of global maternal mortality, ¾ of malaria deaths, and almost 2/3 of children out of school. Unsurprisingly, these countries are a long way off track to achieve the MDGs.

DFID is trying to kill the two birds of poverty and insecurity with the one stone of aid with its prominent focus on conflict affected and fragile states. However, the Department must demonstrate that while UK development aid does have a natural relationship with peace-building and state building, it should not be subservient to military and security objectives. DFID must also prove to the UK public that its aid programmes are concerned with structural prevention of poverty and conflict, or aid that addresses the underlying causes and conditions that allow conflict to emerge.

DFID’s mission is to “manage Britain’s aid to poor countries and work to get rid of extreme poverty.” Therefore, the Coalition should, in the words of shadow secretary of state for International Development Harriet Harman, “ensure that countries which may not be beset by conflict but which are beset by poverty do not lose out.”  For example, DFID's bilateral aid programs to Niger and Burundi, home to some of the world's poorest people, are being completely eliminated under the new plan.   


We urge DFID to maintain its focus as a development agency that focuses on improving the lives of the world’s poorest people, and not become a tool for diplomatic means. For that we have the FCO.

We urge the public to join with the Global Poverty Project in holding politicians and the media to account when they misrepresent the myriad challenges facing the lives of those living in conflicted affected and fragile states. In keeping with the review’s emphasis on delivering 100pence of value on the ground for every 1 pound of taxpayer’s money, in the course of evaluation we should constantly keep in mind that aid to conflict affected and fragile states is often slow, difficult to measure, and potentially unquantifiable.

We must also remember that aid is not about charity, but justice. Justice for every family who is afflicted with HIV, for every child who is severely malnourished, and for every girl who is unable to receive an adequate education. It is about fulfilling the UK’s responsibilities to be at the forefront of the struggle for a fairer and more equal world.  This is real value for money.



For more details see:

ODI's Guide to the Aid Reviews

Full DFID Multilateral Aid Review

Full DFID Bilateral Aid Review

Posted by Ben Knopf, Becky Driscoll, Elisha London in Poverty for column 1.4 Billion Reasons on Mar 1st 2011, 18:08

Summary of State Department and USAID budget


Here is a summary of State Department and USAID budget rollout:

Note: this is an interpreted summary and is not verbatim.


Earlier today, Deputy Secretary Thomas R. Nides announced the State Department and USAID’s budget for fiscal year 2012.  USAID as you know is the federal agency tasked with delivering foreign civilian aid across the globe, primarily focused on economic, development and humanitarian assistance abroad.  While the 2012 budget certainly covers these areas, both the Core Budget and the Extraordinary Temporary Costs Budget—a new addition to the fund—reflect the nation’s ongoing concern with national security, clearly making this allotment of dollars an ongoing extension of national security versus actual foreign assistance for the sake of human and economic development in areas where it is very much needed.  This blogger wants to know, given the clear emphasis on national security and primarily securing American interests overseas, when will USAID begin focusing its efforts on programs that facilitate development in countries where it operates?  Isn’t this objective ultimately tied to promoting US interests anyway?



Here is a break down of the two areas:

Core Budget – Foreign Assistance & Operations Budget

$47 Billion


  • 11 billion (or 23%), which will be spent on preventing conflict, promoting economic security and supporting fragile states; 
  • 7.4 billion (or 16%) to support key allies and partners, of which 3 billion will be spent on Israel;
  • 14.6 billion (or 31%)  for advancing human security through programs focused on disease control, food security and climate change;
  • 14 billion (or 30%) on securing diplomatic presence in 190 countries

Extraordinary Temporary Cost
$8.7 Billion

  • Reflects allocation of funds into a new account, Overseas Contingency Operations, specifically for spending on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, similar to the Department of Defense.


For more information visit-


Bibi Khan - GPP Research Fellow

Posted by Bibi Khan in Aid, Poverty for column 1.4 Billion Reasons on Feb 15th 2011, 08:22

Global Premiere of the 1.4 Billion Reasons DVD


The movement to end extreme poverty within a generation truly received a boost last night as the 1.4 Billion Reasons DVD was launched globally.

Premiered at red carpet events in London and New York, and in 30 countries around the world, from Malawi to Indonesia and New Zealand to The Netherlands. You can see a map of the locations of the where the events happened here. More than 3000 people saw the 1.4 Billion Reasons DVD last night and were inspired and motivated to take actions against extreme poverty across the globe.

The event in London attracted 500 people from all over the country. It was truly moving to see so many people attending the Premiere on the day of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Elisha London, UK Country Manager of the Global Poverty Project thanked the British government for ring-fencing the aid budget. She said “The Comprehensive Spending Review cuts will hurt but we should be proud of the ring-fencing of the aid budget. We should be proud that we are still leaders on the world’s stage in the fight for human dignity and rights for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.”

Also attending the London Premiere was Todd Stitzer, retired CEO of Cadbury PLC, who said, “This is a great news story. The Global Poverty Project should be hugely congratulated for what it’s doing.” In relation to how businesses can benefit from thinking about the world’s poorest he talked of “principled capitalism” and said: “It’s incumbent on business to act in the interests of their shareholders 

but also its important that as individuals they make a difference in the world”.

The Global Poverty Project now has supporters in over 100 countries and this DVD marks the new stage of our international outreach. To host a 1.4 Billion Reasons DVD in your community visit today.

Posted by Uschi Klein - GPP Intern in Education, Poverty for column 1.4 Billion Reasons on Oct 21st 2010, 17:51

Poverty Education Program


The Global Poverty Project's vision is a world where extreme poverty doesn’t exist.

We're working to make this vision a reality – by educating and mobilising citizens worldwide with our ground-breaking educational presentation 1.4 Billion Reasons, and providing audiences with easy everyday actions they can take to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty.

In Australia, the Global Poverty Project we are building the movement to end extreme poverty with our world-class Poverty Education Program.

We’re travelling the nation and educating students about extreme poverty – giving Australian youth the knowledge and resources they need to become leaders in the movement to end extreme poverty.

Funds raised during our new poverty awareness campaign Live Below the Line will be used to reach additional schools, and inspire grassroots initiatives like the 250km fundraising trek that Mount Beauty Secondary students Lachie Ranton and Jack Simpson organised to engage their community and raise over $5,000 for Oxfam Australia’s overseas development projects.

Every $200 raised during Live Below the Line will allow us to travel to another school, and inspire 100 Australian youths.

Over one thousand Australians will Live Below the Line from August 2nd - 6th. support their efforts, and help us reach our target of inspiring 50,000 additional Australian students in the next 12 months, you can donate here.

*If you would like to book 1.4 Billion Reasons for your school, please fill in our booking form. You can find more information about the schools presentation here.

Posted by Renee Carr - GPP AU Marketing & Communications Manager in for column 1.4 Billion Reasons on Jul 18th 2010, 16:46

The most important lesson


Last week we asked you when you first learnt about extreme poverty.

We got a wide variety of responses: some saw poverty when travelling overseas, some read about global inequality or spoke to a development organisation, and others learnt about it at University.
You were all exposed to the challenges of extreme poverty in different ways, and were profoundly affected. But amongst the diversity of experience - there was one unifying theme – very few people learnt about extreme poverty at school.
At GPP we think this is a problem.
We want to make sure the next generation of Australians know about extreme poverty and our ability to end it.
We’re working to make this happen, using our presentation 1.4 Billion Reasons.
In the past year we’ve been piloting an education program in Australian schools - and we’ve spoken to 10,000 students already!
We’ve seen the amazing effect that our presentation has on students, with thousands now taking part in (and sometimes leading) anti-poverty initiatives in their own community! We want to make sure all Australian students have the knowledge and inspiration they need to lead the movement against extreme poverty.
We can reach 50,000 students in the next 12 months - but we need your help to get there.
By feeding yourself with just $2 a day as part of the Live Below the Line campaign from the 2nd – 6th of August, you can raise funds for a Poverty Education Program in Australia, and educate those around you about the challenges of extreme poverty.
Testimonials from our Pilot program:
"Your talk at our school greatly inspired us to do this walk for poverty… After beginning walking on Boxing Day 2009 we complete the 250km journey six days later on New Years Eve (walking on average 45km per day). Over these six days, we managed to raise $5014 for Oxfam Australia.
Once the blisters got better and we could forget the pain of walking, the thoughts of helping others and succeeding in our quest is still strongly with us. We now aspire to tackle greater challenges, really trying to make others less fortunate than us have a better life."
- Lachie and Jack (Mount Beauty Secondary College)
"I really appreciate the ways in which you modified your presentation especially to address our school as an individual community, and the variety of approach that you used with the different age groups... The personal stories that you brought to us added a new and very powerful dimension to our thinking on global issues.
– Osborne Middle School