Independent audit slams DfID’s business partnerships

Thursday, 21 May, 2015

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has today released an audit of how the Department for International Development (DfID) works through and with business.

DfID’s business partnerships programme was given an overall ‘amber-red’ rating – meaning that it was performing “relatively poorly against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money.” The same ‘amber-red’ rating was also given to the objectives, delivery, impact and learning assessments of the programme.

The commission wrote that it was “concerned about the level of strategic oversight DfID has over business engagement activities and the lack of clear targets for this portfolio. Our findings show that DfID needs to do more to translate its high level ambition into detailed operational plans with a clear focus on poverty reduction.”  The commission also identified cases where it was “not confident that DfID’s support is additional to what businesses would have done anyway, especially in the case of challenge funds.”

Polly Jones, the head of campaigns and policy at Global Justice Now said:

“This damning report shows that there’s almost no evidence for the effectiveness of DfID’s business partnerships in alleviating poverty and in some cases nothing to suggest that aid money has enabled additional activities to what businesses would have done anyway.  Despite the fact that £494 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on these schemes over the course of two years, the audit highlights an astounding lack of strategic oversight. DfiD’s  approach seems to be driven by an outdated ideological commitment to free-market mania. You’re left with the impression that aid money has been spent on aiding the efforts of corporations to expand their markets in the global south rather than to support economically marginalised communities to access to basic amenities.”

Global Justice Now has raised numerous concerns and criticisms of  DfID’s increasing involvement with the private sector – a policy that was ramped up over the course of the previous government.

  • In April 2015 Global Justice Now published a critical report on DfID of working with multinational corporations including Pearson and Coca Cola to promote private education and healthcare in the global south, and entrenching inequality.
  • In March 2015 Global Justice Now raised questions about UK aid money being paid to Adam Smith International for the privatisation of energy in Nigeria.
  • In January 2015 Global Justice Now outlined how a Nigerian farming community were being forced off their land by an agribusiness coporation that was part of the DfiD-backed New Alliance for Food Security.
  • In May 2014 Global Justice Now (at the time called the World Development Movement) criticised aid money being used to build hotels, luxury apartments and gated communities in the global south via the CDC.
  • In April 2014 Global Justice Now (at the time called the World Development Movement) published a report that showed how the DfID back New Alliance for Food Security was fuelling the ‘corporate scramble for Africa.’
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