DfID grants to NGOs advance domestic political agendas
Friday, October 9, 2009
A letter in The Times addresses NGO criticisms waged at IPN's new report, Fake Aid.
Sir, Predictably, your article (“Home truths on overseas aid”, Oct 3), citing our report Fake Aid, has enraged Oxfam, Christian Aid, and other development lobby groups (letters, Oct 6). This is no surprise coming from vested interests that derive up to 70 per cent of their budgets from the taxpayer.
Fake Aid shows that the Department for International Development’s (DfID) “publicity” grants to NGOs are used to advance domestic political agendas, at the expense of actual aid delivery abroad. Typically these funds are not dispersed through a competitive, transparent process.
DfID also lacks appropriate auditing of these grants. In one report, DfID itself said that Cafod had found it “difficult to provide more than an indication towards progress”. Yet despite its distrust of Cafod’s “monitoring and evaluation system”, DfID decided to renew and increase its grant for a further three years.
Before 2000, the Government’s budget for “publicity” work of NGOs did not even exist. It now stands at £140 million per annum and will soon total in excess of £1 billion.
In lieu of independent, robust evidence that these funds actually alleviate poverty, the Government should focus on the principles that promote prosperity: democracy, the rule of law and free trade.
Caroline Boin, Julian Harris, Andrea Marchesetti
International Policy Network