ICAI review on CDC’s performance

27 March 2019

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ICAI review on CDC’s performance (26 Mar 2019 ) highlights the gap between committing to gender equality and poverty reduction and delivering it.
The CDC has become a prominent, if oft controversial vehicle for UK aid spending in recent years. After little investment for 20 years, DFID have invested £1.8billion into CDC between 2015-18, with plans to invest £703million every year until 2021. As a separate corporate entity, it’s vital that CDC are held accountable to ensure its investments deliver DFID’s strategic priorities to reduce poverty, achieve gender equality, and tackle climate change.
ICAI’s review finds that CDC are not delivering the high quality of development impact we expect of such big aid expenditures. With little consistency in measuring development impact coupled with a lack of prioritisation, recent commitments to gender equality, poverty reduction and quality jobs remain window dressing. Simply put, in this context CDC investments will fail to tackle poverty and advance women’s rights. 
The review reveals that there is little evidence that new development commitments from the CDC have led to meaningful changes in investment decisions. CDC continues to invest in for-profit health and education initiatives which undermine access to public services for the most marginalised women and girls. Despite working on a measurement of job quality since 2012, progress is not forthcoming. Some investments have been shown to direct benefit to wealthier populations before tackling poverty. With only 6% of new commitments being funnelled into funds which focus on reducing poverty, it’s clear that addressing these shortcomings has not been a priority. The ICAI review recommendation for CDC to work more closely with DFID across regional operations would ensure a higher level of development expertise supported all investment decisions, and would help CDC to close the gap between aspiration and reality.
Advancing gender equality, ensuring decent work, tackling climate change, and reducing poverty should be the driving factors behind CDC investment decisions and impact monitoring. As CDC becomes a bigger player in DFID’s development approach, ensuring high quality spending with a laser-like focus on poverty reduction is critical. As long as development commitments remain abstract rhetoric for CDC, meaningful and transformative change for women and girls’ rights will remain an afterthought.
We recognise that CDC has made efforts to meet this challenge and engage in a dialogue. This report’s findings is a call to further that dialogue, and we hope to see concrete and deliberate actions in how CDC target their investment towards the poorest, factoring in gender equality in all that they do from a human rights perspective.