A new report from Chatham House, “Building on the Inheritance: The UK’s Role in Global Poverty Reduction“, both encourages and challenges the coalition Government to maintain Britain’s global leadership in international development.
Authored by Kevin Watkins, the report first makes it clear that the government enjoys a “golden inheritance” in international development – a set of policies, programmes, and commitments that make it one of the world’s most effective and respected donors.
It goes on to highlight the challenges that exist for aid and development, which are well known: the financial crisis, generally shrinking aid budgets, climate change and food crises being the headline issues. Many of these are opportunities for the UK to show continued leadership and initiative.
The report does raise some questions, however, about the new “cash-on-delivery” framework that is being talked about by the Secretary of State. While RESULTS welcomes a move towards proven, results-based aid financing, we share some of the concern raised in the report about shifting to a cash-on-delivery framework exclusively. Some interventions are simply not well suited towards this way of working and yet are crucial for successful development, and DFID’s own experience with this framework has mixed results.
The examples highlighted in the report include education, where many investments often need to be made up front, for example in training new teachers, with actual development outcomes improving only much later.
We hope that in the move towards a results-based framework for the transparent delivery of aid that the overall effectiveness of the UK international development efforts are not lost through an overly narrow focus on cash-for-results aid spending, and the UK can remain a respected global leader in this space.
The full report is available here.