Speaking in response to the House of Commons International Development Committee report and statement that the Department for International Development (DFID) should be prepared to miss aid targets where there are delays or cancellations to its planned projects, ActionAid Executive Director Richard Miller said that paying attention to value for money is vital but poor people can’t wait for life-saving aid.
“The government should be commended for its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid and upholding this longstanding promise would be a positive sign of the UK’s leadership on international development as it prepares to host the 2013 G8 summit in June.
“Delaying aid spending need not be the default solution for the problems highlighted in the Committee’s report. The answer, as the report itself suggests, is to ensure DFID has the delivery capacity it needs. The report itself highlights the opportunities for greater engagement with civil society organisations. In ensuring development impact and value for money, the issue should not be whether we support initiatives but how we support them. The shifts in DFID spending noted in the report suggest that aid can play a positive role in change, for example through the strengthening of local tax collection systems.
“Of course it is legitimate for the report to scrutinise the effectiveness of spending via multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. ActionAid has long campaigned for reforms to ensure investment in such institutions is effective in promoting poverty reduction. But a blanket approach should not be taken and decisions must be based on evidence and handled on a case-by-case basis, for example through the on-going multilateral aid review.
“We know that there are clear examples of where spending aid money through international organisations has been effective in supporting development and saving lives. DFID’s financial support of global health funds providing vaccines and tackling HIV and Aids is one. Such bodies offer opportunities for economies of scale and maximising impact.”