The UK’s Department for International Development’s (DfID) annual report is out, and it’s a perfect time to look back on the difference UK aid has made around the world in the past 12 months.
This is especially true as, right now, the lifesaving work of UK aid is under threat — with the Department for International Development (DfID, the main spender of the aid budget) set to be merged in September with the less transparent, less effective Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Meanwhile, the government has this week announced £2.9 billion in cuts to the aid budget.
From making sure girls can access education, to delivering lifesaving nutrition and shelter in crises, to being a world leader on the fight against COVID-19, DfID has been praised for focusing spending where it’s needed most.
The annual report is also a vital way to get insight into the tangible progress being made towards the UN’s 17 Global Goals and the ultimate goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.
Here are just some of the ways that the UK’s aid budget has been put to use in the last year, as highlighted in the annual report:
1. Providing humanitarian relief in conflict zones and emergencies
This year DfID has responded to humanitarian emergencies in areas of the world that have been devastated by conflict, or are hosting a large influx of refugees fleeing violence and war.
In Syria, UK aid provided 365,000 vaccines and ensured over 1 million people have access to clean drinking water. In Bangladesh, it provided support in the form of food, health care, and water and sanitation facilities to over a million Rohingya refugees staying in camps.
In Yemen — where the world’s worst humanitarian crisis is taking place — UK aid provided nutritional assistance to 400,000 children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, countering the rise of malnutrition among infants.
The UK stands with the Syrian people as the conflict enters a tenth year.#UKaid will help protect those who have suffered so much already from the additional threat of coronavirus.https://t.co/cRoWsgkFB3#SyriaConf2020pic.twitter.com/IaDkl4AR0w— DFID (@DFID_UK) June 30, 2020
2. Standing up for girl’s education
With the aim of upholding the right of girls to access at least 12 years of quality education, UK aid projects have supported access to education in areas where high numbers of girls miss out on school.
In Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, for example, UK aid is providing stipends to enable more than 444,750 girls to attend secondary school, as well as supporting over 2,000 girls’ community schools.
Meanwhile the 12-year-long initiative, the Girls’ Education Challenge — launched by the UK in 2012 with the aim of ensuring the world’s most marginalised girls receive a quality education — has supported over a million girls and young women into school in places with the lowest access to education for girls.
3. Working to end preventable deaths
A big focus of UK aid funding is on ending the preventable deaths of mothers, infants, and children. To do that, DfID has in the past year supported the development of seven new malaria drugs and 20 diagnostic tests for detecting malaria, tuberculosis, and sleeping sickness.
It is also on track to have immunised 76 million children between 2016 and 2020.
4. Fighting climate change
The climate crisis is the single biggest challenge facing the world, but people living in the poorest countries of the world — despite contributing the least to emissions — will be hardest hit by rising sea levels and natural disasters.
The UK doubled investment into the International Climate Finance fund this year, which invests in projects that help build resilience against climate change in low-income countries.
Since 2011 the project has helped 57 million people cope with the impact of climate change, provided clean energy to 26 million people, and supported the reduction of 16 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
5. Boosting small businesses in the poorest countries
UK aid supports poverty reduction by boosting entrepreneurs and small-scale farmers, and by supporting women to earn an income.
The department is on track to reach 300,000 women through the Work and Opportunities for Women Programmes by the end of 2020.
Meanwhile in Bangladesh, over 600,000 garment workers — more than half of whom are women — are now employed in factories that have signed up to the “Better Work Bangladesh” safety initiative to improve working conditions.
In northern Nigeria, a network for rural farmers to access markets is raising the incomes of 190,000 farmers.
Watch @annietrev@DFID_UK at our new office yesterday where we discussed UK aid for mine clearance— The HALO Trust (@TheHALOTrust) July 17, 2020
Since 2018, UK aid funding has cleared over 132 million m² – the equivalent of 18,000 football pitches ⚽. pic.twitter.com/SpI3gwfC2z
6. Building peace in fragile states
In 2019 to 2020 the department delivered programmes dedicated to reducing vulnerability to radicalisation, for example, launching a 5-year programme in Kenya to improve relationships between vulnerable communities and the security services.
It also supported the clearing of land mines from over 133 million square metres of land mines, and delivered education to communities about land mine risks.
7. Supporting disability rights and inclusion
This year the UK’s aid department pushed on with its first disability inclusion strategy, which was launched in 2018.
Examples of that work include assistive devices being integrated into humanitarian support offered in Jordan; and providing crutches, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs to people with disabilities globally.
Meanwhile, the Girls’ Education Challenge programme has also helped over 46,000 girls with disabilities — who are so often left behind in accessing schooling globally — to receive an education.
8. Being transparent and accountable when delivering aid
The UK’s aid department has consistently been ranked as among the world’s leading spenders of aid funding by the Aid Transparency Index – which assesses the transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of aid spending globally. This year it maintained its “very good” ranking — the top rating possible.
You can join the movement to help ensure UK aid is always spent most effectively with a focus on eradicating extreme poverty and its systemic causes, by taking action with us here.