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Departmental Update

Statement made on 28 October 2019

Statement UIN HCWS44


The United Kingdom is a development superpower. We are the only country that is simultaneously meeting the NATO target of spending 2% of our Gross Domestic Product on defence and the UN target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on international development. We should be proud of meeting both those targets, maintaining our security while supporting some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. Our commitment to ending global poverty and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) makes the world safer, healthier and more prosperous for us all.

As we enter a new session of Parliament, we will maintain our commitment to helping the world’s poorest. As we leave the European Union, the UK’s development work and use of ODA sit at the heart of our international agenda.

I would like to update the House on some of DFID’s key achievements since 2015:

  • Over 14 million children gained a decent education, of whom almost 6 million are girls.
  • More than 32 million people have been supported with humanitarian assistance, including at least 10 million women and girls.
  • 60.3 million women, children under 5 and adolescent girls have been reached with nutrition-relevant programmes.
  • Almost 52 million people have been supported to gain access to clean water or improved sanitation.
  • 3.9 million people supported to raise their incomes or maintain/gain a better job or livelihood.
  • As a result of our work, by 2020, 76 million children will have been immunised, with over 1 million lives saved.

A number of these achievements were reflected in our 2019 Voluntary National Review of how the UK is supporting the SDGs at home and abroad. They build on what DFID delivered between 2011 and 2015:

  • Supported 11.3 million children in primary and lower secondary education, of whom 5.3 million were girls.
  • Reached 30 million children under 5 and pregnant women through DFID’s nutrition-relevant programmes, of whom 12.1 million were women or girls.
  • Supported over 64 million people, of whom at least 22.6 million were women, to access clean water, better sanitation or improved hygiene conditions.
  • Ensured 5.6 million births took place safely in the presence of nurses, midwives or doctors. Overall 80,100 mothers have been saved during child birth along with 226,000 babies during this period.
  • Distributed 49.7 million long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, to people at risk from malaria.

UK International Climate Finance (ICF) programmes have supported 57 million people to cope with the effects of climate change over the last eight years. ICF programmes have provided 26 million people with improved access to clean energy, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking three million cars off the road for a year. Through the Global Environment Facility, the UK has also contributed to creating nature protection zones equivalent to the size of Brazil.

At the 74th United Nations General Assembly, we launched a new partnership to help make 1 billion people safer from disaster by improving early warning systems and the capacity to act on risks. The Prime Minister also announced: the doubling of UK ICF to £11.6 billion over five years from 2021; a Biodiversity and Forests package to protect and restore the world’s forests; and support to the efforts of British and international scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs to create new clean energy technologies through the new £1 billion Ayrton Fund.

The UK is a leader on global health, and by 2020 will have helped vaccinate 76 million children, saving 1.4 million lives from vaccine-preventable diseases. I recently announced that the UK will step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children in the developing world by 2030. The UK committed £400 million between 2013-20 to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which contributed to the vaccination of approximately 400 million children against polio every year. Polio is a development success story; from being present in 125 countries in 1988 to wild polio cases reported in only 2 countries in 2019. The UK is contributing £1.4 billion to the replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (2020-22) and will host the replenishment of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, next year following a commitment of £1.44 billion between 2016 and 2020.

DFID plays a leading role in tackling the barriers girls and women face in achieving their potential. Since 2015, DFID’s nutrition-relevant programmes have reached 60.3 million women, children under 5 and adolescent girls. In 2018-19 the UK helped to prevent 7.3 million unintended pregnancies, save 8,300 maternal lives, and prevent the traumas of 89,900 still births and 52,900 new-born deaths. In 2018, we announced £50 million – the largest single investment worldwide to date by any international donor – towards ending female genital mutilation. Last month, I announced a new £600 million programme that will give over 20 million women and girls access to family planning per year over the next five years, saving tens of thousands of lives – a sign of the UK’s commitment to women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world. DFID is a world leader in preventing violence against women and girls. We are pioneering approaches around the world that have shown reductions in violence of around 50% - proving that violence against women and girls is preventable.

Since 2015, DFID has supported 14.3 million children around the world to gain a decent education, of which at least 5.8 million were girls. DFID spearheads the Leave No Girl Behind Campaign, launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018. At the G7 Summit in August the Prime Minister announced a £90 million package for education in emergencies and protracted crises that will support 600,000 children. Since then, at the United Nations General Assembly, the UK announced a further £515 million to help get over 12 million children – half of them girls – into schools. This will boost future economic growth and improve women’s rights in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Our ultimate goal is to support countries, allowing them to help themselves, enabling them to become economically self-sustaining – as a route towards ending global poverty. Governments around the world collectively spend around $140 billion every year on aid. However, the United Nations estimates that an additional $2.5 trillion is required annually in developing countries to meet the SDGs. That investment gap needs to be met largely by the private sector. That is why I have set up an International Development Infrastructure Commission to advise on how we can mobilise additional private sector funds. The UK-Africa Investment Summit next January will showcase the City of London as a world-class financial centre and demonstrate its offer to economies across the developing world. Increased investment will lead to more jobs, better access to basic services and opportunities for businesses.

The UK is leading the way to build sustainable economies. It is my ambition that within 10 years our partner countries will raise 10 times more resource through private sector investment and their own tax revenues than they receive in UK aid. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates the average developing country generates tax revenues of around 14% of GDP. This is way below the 35% average for developed countries. In the last year, DFID announced a new £47 million package to improve tax systems in developing countries. DFID will continue to use the UK’s world class expertise to raise the standards of tax systems of developing countries to create a more stable environment for investment. This support does work. For example, for every £1 spent on operating costs an additional £100 is returned in tax revenues in the Tax Inspectors Without Borders programme.

While being a strong supporter of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the UK is working to update the Official Development Assistance (ODA) rules to ensure they reflect the breadth of UK assistance around the world. Reform is about getting the most out of the 0.7% commitment for the world’s poorest and UK taxpayers. For example, we secured an increase in the percentage of contributions to UN peacekeeping missions in ODA eligible countries that count as aid, from 7% to 15%.

These efforts to build on the reforms to the Aid Budget that have been delivered since 2010, such as:

  • Aid spending is now more transparent and accountable. Details of DFID programmes are published on DevTracker, with spend over £500 and information for contracts worth over £10,000 published on GOV.UK. In addition, before financial aid is provided, DFID checks the risks of corruption and only provides funding if it is clear that the money will be used for the intended purposes.

  • An independent body to oversee aid spending. In 2011 we set up an independent body to scrutinise aid spending. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact, which examines ODA spend across government, assesses how we drive efficiency, value for money and reach those most in need.
  • Stopped traditional bilateral programmes to those who had the means to self-finance their own way out of extreme poverty. We did a review in 2011 of where the UK’s aid money was being spent which led to the ending of bilateral aid programmes in, for example: Angola, Cambodia, China, Gambia, Moldova, Russia, Serbia and Vietnam. Some of these countries may still need a different type of support to mobilise their own resources and prevent reversals.
  • Ending traditional aid to India. In 2012 we announced we would end traditional aid to India by 2015. Since 2015 our new development partnership with India has focused on the poorest and most marginalised people through offering world leading expertise, skills, and investment to India in areas such as urban development, financial services and energy.
  • Stopped money going to ineffective aid organisations. The Multilateral Aid Reviews (MDRs) in 2011 and 2016 assessed multilateral agencies that received over £1 million in DFID core funding by testing alignment with UK priorities and their organisational effectiveness. On the basis of the 2011 review, we took the decision to stop providing core funding to four institutions. We are clear that our multilateral investments must be clearly justified in relation to UK priorities, multilateral performance and value for money, and – like all DFID programmes – are regularly assessed to ensure they deliver results, remain cost effective and prove good value for money for UK taxpayers. Reform priorities from the 2016 MDR were embedded in multilateral programmes and continue to be monitored as part of the annual review process, which in turn inform future funding decisions.

Linked statements

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords

Department for International Development
Departmental Update
Baroness Sugg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
Conservative, Life peer
Statement made 28 October 2019