This is a joint post with Nancy Birdsall.
Last week UK Secretary of International Development Andrew Mitchell released the outcomes of DFID’s bilateral and multilateral aid reviews.
We were glad to see that the published documents on the bilateral aid review included country summaries that list the funds allocated to each of 27 countries and three regional programs where DFID plans to work in the next 4 years, and the key results these funds are expected to produce. These are likely the highlights of the “results offers” that country and regional teams submitted at the end of last year (as we discussed in this blog).
The focus on results has been a consistent message of DFID under the current government and is reflected in Andrew Mitchell’s commitment to pilot Cash on Delivery Aid this year. All aid programs (of course not just our hoped-for COD pilots) are being asked to focus on results, and allocations are based largely on DFID staff’s estimated costs of the results offers (as explained in the bilateral aid review technical report).
For the multilateral aid review, DFID took a backward-looking approach at the results achieved in recent years by 43 multilateral organizations that it funds, and plans to cut funding to those not demonstrating that they can deliver. To improve its effectiveness, the agency is making tough choices about cutting back on the number of countries it operates in and agencies it works through, despite its overall budget increase.
The two aid reviews are laid out to demonstrate DFID’s accountability and transparency to British taxpayers (“value for money” is heavily emphasized), efforts we very much welcome; we hope that as DFID begins to see the results of its programs – whether good or bad –, these levels of accountability and transparency will maintained, to taxpayers in the UK and to the governments and especially people of aid recipient countries as well.