DFID aid is more poverty-focused than other UK departments’

Departments other than the Department for International Development (DFID) account for almost an eighth of UK aid, a share that has risen in recent years. Our research shows that the aid provided by these departments is less focused on countries with high levels and rates of poverty than is aid provided by DFID.

DFID aid compared with non-DFID aid

The UK’s aid (official development assistance, or ODA) budget is split across a number of different departments – including DFID, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Department of Energy & Climate Change. The aid provided by non-DFID departments totalled around £1.4 billion in 2013, up 50% since 2009.

The majority of DFID’s aid (83%) goes to countries with high poverty levels and rates of extreme poverty. Less than half of ‘non-DFID’ aid (43%) goes to such high poverty countries, with almost one fifth of other departments’ aid going to countries with relatively low numbers and rates of people living in extreme poverty.

This is consistent with our research findings that aid-providing organisations with a legal mandate to reduce poverty tend to give much more of their aid to high poverty countries (see DI/DESA report Improving ODA allocation for a post-2015 world). DFID aid is provided under the International Development Act (2002), which requires spending to be poverty-reducing.* Other departments’ aid need only meet the OECD requirement to be for the economic development and welfare of the receiving developing country.

For more details, see our submission to the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee’s annual inquiry into DFID policy.


*The ID Act requires that the Secretary of State be satisfied that provision of aid “is likely to contribute to a reduction in poverty.”


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