UK NGOs warn proposed counter-terrorism bill could prevent humanitarian work

Heads of the some of the UK’s leading NGOs – Christian Aid, ActionAid UK, Action Against Hunger, the Bond network, and Oxfam – have issued a joint statement urging politicians to change the proposed UK Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which they argue in its current form could limit their ability to deliver humanitarian assistance in conflict countries and put humanitarian staff at risk of police investigation.

The bill makes it an offense for UK nationals to enter certain countries designated by the UK Home Office unless they can prove they have a reason to be there. It is intended to help stop terrorism, but NGOs warn it will have a negative impact on their work and are calling for NGO staff and journalists to be made exempt from the provision.

News articles – The Independent, Devex

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DFID publishes first-ever Disability Inclusion Strategy

The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) has published its first-ever Disability Inclusion Strategy. The five-year strategy identifies four strategic pillars for action: inclusive education, social protection, economic empowerment, and humanitarian action. While there is no budget attached to the strategy, the strategy does commit DFID to doubling the proportion of programs that are disability-inclusive by 2023 and expanding DFID programming in key areas. Progress in achieving this goal will be monitored using the internationally agreed OECD Development Assistance Committee’s disability inclusion and empowerment marker.

In addition to the four pillars, DFID will also focus on three cross-cutting areas: tackling stigma and discrimination, empowering girls and women with disabilities, and access to appropriate assistive technology.

DFID's Disability Inclusion Strategy 2018-2023, DFID's Disability Inclusion Strategy 2018-2023 Implementation Plan - UK government 

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UK Labour Party’s shadow international development secretary resigns

UK Labour Party member of parliament Kate Osamor has resigned as shadow international development secretary effective December 1, 2018, after being accused of misleading the public over her knowledge of her son’s conviction for drugs offences. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accepted her resignation, saying she brought a new dimension to Labour’s approach to international development by committing the party to tackling global inequality as well as poverty.

News article – New Statesman

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UK’s development finance institute to invest up to US$1.2 billion in Nigeria in post-Brexit drive

The UK’s development finance institute, CDC Group, has said that it is likely to invest around US$1.2 billion in Nigeria in the coming years as part of its plan to increase investments in Africa and in line with the UK government's ambition to become the biggest G-7 investor on the continent by 2022. As part of this drive CDC announced it would also open a new office in Lagos. 

But Department for International Development (DFID) Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft said in a speech to the UK Parliament's International Development Committee that there are no plans for DFID to count CDC profits as official development assistance (ODA). There had previously been concerns raised that the UK’s international development minister, Penny Mordaunt, might be considering breaking with OECD rules to enable this to happen.

News articles – The Cable, Devex  

United Kingdom

UK development assistance exceeds £14 billion (US$19 billion) for first time

The UK provided £14 billion (US$19 billion) in foreign assistance in 2017, the largest amount ever and an increase of 5.1% over 2016, according to the Annual Statistics on International Development. The statistics also reveal that the share of official development assistance (ODA) that is channeled through the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) is continuing to fall, with just under 72% going through the department in 2017, down from almost 74% in 2016 and 89% in 2011. The increase in non-DFID spending is a result of the UK’s cross-government strategy on development assistance, which calls for up to 30% of ODA to be spent by other departments by 2020.

ODA spent by other government departments like the UK’s Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, tends to go to different regions, country income groups. For example, while DFID focuses the largest share of its bilateral ODA on Africa, least-developed, and low-income countries, and on humanitarian and health sectors, non-DFID departments tend to focus their assistance on Asia, lower and upper middle-income countries, and on multi-sector spending.

DFID’s top civil servant, Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft, told UK members of parliament at a session of the UK Parliament's International Development Committee that he wanted to ensure that DFID spends at least 75% of the UK’s ODA in the future. This was supported by NGOs concerned about the transparency and poverty-focus of non-DFID ODA spending.

Annual Statistics 2017 – UK government

Matthew Rycroft testimony – UK Parliament

News Articles - The Times, Public Finance International,  Bond

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UK to provide additional £25 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

UK international development minister Penny Mordaunt has announced new humanitarian assistance of £25 million (US$33 million) to help provide food and nutrition, shelter, and clean water to Afghanistan amid one of the worst droughts in the country’s history.  

The commitment was made ahead of the UN and Afghan government’s joint Conference on Afghanistan held in Geneva on November 27, 2018. The UK is the second largest humanitarian donor to Afghanistan. The funding will come from the Department for International Development's (DFID) crisis-reserve fund, with £12.5 million (US$16.8 million) for UN OCHA’s Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund and a further £12.5 million (US$16.8 million) for the World Food Programme.

Press release – DFID

United Kingdom Nutrition

UK’s Prosperity Fund publishes annual report

The UK Government's Prosperity Fund has published its annual report outlining its efforts to raise the welfare and prosperity of emerging economies, home to 60% of the world’s poor. The Fund spent £63 million (US$85 million) between 2017 and 2018, of which £7 million (US$9.4 million) was non-ODA spending. This money has supported projects like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank's (AIIB) Special Fund, which helps Asian countries prepare high-quality infrastructure projects, and the Global Future Cities program, which helps cities in developing countries grow in a sustainable manner. 

The cross-government fund was set up in 2016 with £1.2 billion (US$1.6 billion). It has endorsed 26 multi-year programs in total and will operate until 2023. The annual report also notes steps taken by the Fund to fulfill the recommendations made by the 2017 Joint Review of the fund by the UK’s Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) and National Audit Office. 

UK Government – Prosperity Fund Annual Report

News article - The Independent 

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UK announces largest-ever donor investment to help end female genital mutilation

The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) has announced that it will provide up to £50 million (US$67.4 million) in development assistance to help put an end to female genital mutilation (FGM) in Africa by 2030. This is the largest donor investment ever made on tackling FGM.

The announcement, made two days before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, will go towards projects across Africa, including £15 million (US$20.2 million) to expand DFID’s programming in Sudan, run by UNICEF, that has helped reduce social acceptance of FGM by an estimated 18% over the last two years.

Press release – DFID

United Kingdom Global health

CEO of UK’s development finance institution talks about challenges of taking more risk to achieve development impact

In an interview with Devex, Nick O’Donohoe, the CEO of the UK’s development finance institution, CDC Group, talked about the challenges of taking on more risk to enhance development impact while also delivering a commercial return to UK taxpayers. 

CDC was given a mandate two-years ago to focus more on the most challenging countries to invest in, which has required a separate pool of money amounting to around US$1 billion that is more orientated towards taking risk and delivering impact, without an immediate pressure to deliver a return. O’Donohoe also argued that the development finance community needs to challenge its perceptions of risk, noting that the rate of the default on power investments in Africa, for example, is lower than it is in Europe, contrary to popular perceptions.

News article – Devex

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UK development minister calls for withdrawal of funds to UNESCO but is rebuffed by UK Cabinet Ministers

UK Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt has called -- as did her predecessor, Priti Patel -- for the UK to withdraw its £11.1 million (US$14.9 million) in funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The call, which was promptly rejected by other UK Cabinet Ministers, comes as the United States begins to prepare for its own withdrawal from the organization. Mordaunt argued that the organization does not meet the criteria set by the Department for International Development (DFID) for channeling assistance. It is also among the worst-performing agencies in DFID’s Multilateral Development Review, which has previously singled out UNESCO for a lack of transparency.

News article - Devex 

Multilateral Development Review - DFID 

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