Money for humanitarian aid from top giver UK goes a long way, but could it go further? The December releases of Bilateral and Multilateral Aid Reviews by the Department of International Development (DFID) is emphasizing innovation and “value for taxpayers’ money”. But the overlapping complexities in fields such as people and poverty, conflict and violence, environment and natural disasters, health and illegal trafficking, etc. make measurements hard, not to say potentially misleading, about the efficacy of technology and returns on investment, both financial and non-financial.
To counter this, the DFID is making some changes in how it approaches its relationships:
- Encourage a more holistic approach, as it fosters its own. There is growing evidence that collaboration between the agencies funded by DFID increase the impact of the initiatives in many dimensions. Case in point, Gavi and UNICEF partnership for child vaccination.
- Calibrate the efficacy of organizations, not only by setting higher goals, but by testing if they can perform the same with less resources. Hopefully this would lead to some internal streamlining, as FAO did, but it also risks the viability of some smaller efforts.
- Keep larger priorities in focus. 2017 is poised to become a great year for poverty alleviation. Continuing with the smaller organizations conundrum, DFID would do well to recognize not only direct contributions, but those that help to the long-term socioeconomic conditions of the population.
From an “aid as foreign policy” approach ―something the UK government favors―, recognizing advances on the building blocks to a developed society, like giving people access to market mechanisms, food security (including strengthening the supply chains) and non-violent conflict resolution, can arguably become better measures of giving.