The UK has long been a world leader in international development. In recent years the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has lifted an estimated 3 million people permanently out of poverty annually, through health, education, food, and sanitation programmes. However, in these difficult economic times, which have resulted in budget cuts for other government departments, there has been a heated debate about whether the UK is right to keep its overseas aid commitments.
It is therefore essential that we fully understand what UK aid will achieve. For the first time this independent report audits all of the UK’s existing bilateral and multilateral aid commitments and presents an analysis of what results will be delivered over the next four years.
The UK invested approximately £8.6 billion in overseas aid in 2011, 0.56% of Britain’s income. This is set to rise to an estimated £11.7 billion in 2013 as the UK fulfils its promise to invest 0.7% of national income in aid. This commitment was first made by wealthy nations at the United Nations in 1970. It was reinvigorated in 2005 when G8 and European Union countries agreed aid increases to help global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – a set of targets agreed in 2000 to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. The British Government confirmed in its 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review that it would hit the 0.7% target in 2013.
The British Government confirmed in its 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review that it would hit the 0.7% target in 2013.
At 0.7% of national income, UK aid will account for just 1.6 pence in every pound of government spending.
The analysis shows that if UK aid spending commitments remain on track, the result will be millions of lives saved and transformed between now and 2015. We estimate that UK aid plans as they stand in March 2012 will:
The UK government has identified a number of objectives for its overseas aid programmes. These are wide-ranging and unique for each country, but there are seven overarching priorities: health; water and sanitation; education; governance and security; wealth creation; poverty, hunger and vulnerability; and humanitarian assistance.
Every year an estimated 50 million women around the world give birth outside of a health facility and without the support of a midwife or health worker . This is one of the greatest risks to the health of mothers and their babies. The World Health Organisation estimates that annually the lack of care during labour and immediately following labour causes 358,000 mothers to die, 2.6 million stillbirths and 2.8 million infant deaths in the first week of life .
The UK aid invested in maternal and child health over the next four years will ensure 5.8 million more births will take place in a safe environment, giving mothers and their children the best possible start in life. This will save the lives of over 50,000 mothers.
Vaccinations are one of the most effective ways of reducing preventable diseases and protecting children’s health for a lifetime. Polio is nearly eradicated, and measles deaths worldwide fell by 72% between 2000-2008 due to vaccination programmes. However, nearly 2 million children still die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year . The UK’s contribution to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations – an international organisation that improves access to vaccines for children in the world’s 70 poorest countries – will vaccinate over 80 million children over the next four years, saving an estimated 1.4 million lives.
Malaria is another focus of UK aid spending. Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, yet currently there are 216 million cases per year, with 655,000 deaths worldwide – 86% of them children under five . In Africa one in five child deaths is caused by malaria. The UK has a target to distribute 30 million bed nets of which current plans provide for 26.6 million. In addition the UK will supply malaria treatment to 1.3 million people. These interventions will see the UK playing a key role in halving the number of people that die from malaria in ten of the worst-affected countries by 2015.
It is estimated that 2.5 billion people around the world do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities such as toilets, and more than 880 million do not have access to safe drinking water. This is a major factor in 1.5 million children dying each year from diarrhoea .
The UK is targeting countries with the greatest need, including Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone. UK aid will help over 17 million people access clean drinking water and provide 18.3 million people with access to adequate sanitation facilities.
Education is an important route out of poverty. The Millennium Development Goals call for all girls and boys to receive at least a primary education by 2015.
UK aid spending on education will put 15.9 million children in school in the next four years, including giving 13.9 million children a primary education. There will be a particular focus on getting girls into school. Funding has also been allocated to provide 13 million textbooks to schools.
Good governance and security are vital to development. Fair elections and greater transparency help ordinary citizens hold their leaders to account. This reduces corruption, ensures leaders invest in public services such as health and education, enhances the growth and investment climate, and helps countries progress out of poverty and move beyond aid.
The UK is targeting 30% of its aid money on fragile and conflict states, and as part of that is aiming to foster democratic elections in 13 countries with a voting population of over 300 million people by 2015. Many of these countries, such as Afghanistan and Sudan, have recently experienced conflict. By providing technical and logistical support, training to election observers, establishing voter registration lists and educating voters about their rights and responsibilities, UK aid will help 44.9 million more people vote in these elections than would have otherwise.
Plans are also in place to help 59.1 million citizens in poor countries increase their participation in their country’s development plans and support them to better hold decision-makers to account. This will help ensure countries prioritise investments in the services that most benefit citizens. By supporting 150 civil society organisations, the UK will help monitor government spending and work to root out corruption.
The UK will also help 11.5 million women access security and justice services, helping them secure their rights and protecting them against violence or abuse.
Growing businesses, raising incomes and creating jobs are vital to help people lift themselves out of poverty. There is much that can be done to support economic growth, including investing in infrastructure, supporting entrepreneurs, developing markets to sell goods, encouraging trade and investment, and increasing agricultural productivity.Through a range of programmes focusing on these areas UK aid will help create employment opportunities for 19.3 million people by 2015.
UK aid will also allow 77.6 million people to access formal financial services, such as bank accounts or credit and savings – basic services needed to start a business. In addition property rights will be enforced for 11.6 million people, including 7.7 million women, giving millions more people the security they need to make business investments and access credit.
Private sector growth will be encouraged through supporting increased access to financial services for 50,000 small and medium enterprises and helping to leverage £5.7 billion in new investments from the private sector in pro-poor businesses, for example small and medium enterprises, agri-business and energy.
300 children die every hour around the world because of malnutrition, and of those that survive one in four children suffer permanent effects that stunt the growth of their brains or bodies . The UK has a target to provide nutrition programmes for 10 million people and help another 4 million achieve food security. Plans in place so far will help 9.6 million people with nutrition and 1.4 million with food security – showing that efforts will need to be stepped up in order to reach these goals.
In addition, social protection programmes funded by the UK will help 2 million people in seven countries cope in difficult times, so that they do not to fall below the poverty line if harvests fail or crises strike.
As well as long-term support to help people escape poverty, UK aid is used to address humanitarian emergencies, such as the 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa. During the height of the crisis last year the UK provided emergency aid that fed more than 2.5 million people and vaccinated 1.3 million people against measles . The UK aid budget will allow for the government to provide life-saving help in future emergencies.
The analysis for this report was conducted by independent researchers at Development Initiatives on behalf of ONE.
The data reviewed in this document are drawn from Department for International Development (DFID) plans released in 2011. DFID’s commitment to transparency over future spending and results plans is welcome, and is something other donors could learn from. These plans are divided into bilateral (national and regional) and departmental (including multilateral aid) but are rarely analysed together. The plans are living documents which will be updated year-by-year – this report is accurate as of March 2012. There is a small risk of double-counting where country offices plan to use multilaterals to deliver their results, however we have seen no evidence of this in bilateral plans as published thus far. DFID’s methodology for expected results does not include multilateral spending. Figures in this report therefore represent the number of people DFID aims to help with aid investments over 2011-15 – the lifetime of most plans. The figures are calculated as the difference between the final result expected in 2015 and the relevant baseline figure as stated in the DFID plan documents. It should be noted that not all baselines are from the same year. Some baseline figures in the DFID plans are taken from 2010, others 2009, whilst some measures do not state a baseline at all. When the baseline is not available, it is assumed to be equal to zero.
Where a DFID plan states that only a certain percentage of a given result can be attributed to DFID, this percentage has been applied to the total result stated in the plan. Thus, only the improvement attributable to DFID is included in the statistics contained within this report. Similarly, where the DFID plans state a figure that is the overall improvement due to the actions of a multilateral agency, we have applied a percentage equal to the proportion of the multilateral agency’s funding that comes from DFID. For example the UK’s 2011-2014 commitments to the Global Partnership for Education amount to US$ 352 million, or 14.1% of the assessed financial need of US$ 2.5 billion. This percentage is multiplied by this organisation’s target of 4,000,000 children in basic education by 2013, giving 563,200 children supported by the UK.
Where total future financing need and future UK contributions are known (such as for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) these figures are used. Where future UK contributions are not known (such as for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) average UK contributions of previous years are used to estimate the proportion of the target outcome that can be attributed back to the UK.
Development Initiatives is an independent organisation working for poverty elimination. They believe that transparent and accessible information can play a key role in making aid more effective, and in enhancing choice, security and opportunity for the world's poorest people.
ONE is a global advocacy and campaigning organisation backed by more than 2.6 million people from around the world dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
Download the report (PDF Format)