Photo: Erik Lundqvist, Unsplash

Bond gives evidence on aid definition to International Development Committee

17 January 2018

As part of the inquiry into Official Development Assistance (ODA), Bond chief executive Tamsyn Barton appeared as the first witness to give oral evidence to the International Development Select Committee.  

The committee launched the inquiry at the end of 2017 into the administration and definition of ODA. This follows from an earlier inquiry into how government departments other than DFID spend ODA. That inquiry concluded prematurely due to the snap general election called in April 2017. 

The current inquiry combines this examination of other government departments spending ODA with a review of efforts by the government to change the working definition of ODA. This was done when the then-secretary of state Priti Patel addressed the High Level Meeting of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee in October 2017.

Bond and the UK Aid Network submitted joint written evidence to the committee inquiry on behalf of Bond members from across civil society, which sets out key concerns and recommendations on cross-government use of ODA. The submission also offered lessons learned from the UK’s efforts to change the aid rules through the international multilateral system. 

Tamsyn appeared alongside Professor John Gaventa, director of research at Institute of Development Studies, Rupert Simons, chief executive officer of Publish What You Fund and Dr Nilima Gulrajani, senior research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute.

Tamsyn’s evidence to the committee covered:  

  • whether civil society felt there was sufficient poverty focus of ODA spent by other government departments
  • if ODA spent outside of DFID undermined the 0.7% ODA/GNI target
  • an assessment of the transparency of non-DFID aid 
  • how the 30% of the aid budget the government has targeted to spend outside of DFID would best done so.  

In her opening her remarks, Tamsyn told the committee: “The aid strategy set out in 2015 broadened the focus from poverty reduction to other areas such as security and prosperity. The NAO report does acknowledge that the initial process of bringing in other government departments was very much a question of asking them to look at your spend and see what is eligible to be considered as ODA. That is unlikely to result in a strategy that is clearly coherent and focused on poverty reduction. Of course, as the international development secretary said yesterday, there may be win wins, but I think the concern for our members would be where there might be trade-offs.”    

What is happening next? The committee is shortly due to take further evidence from a variety of witnesses on the work of the UK Government changing the ODA definition, as well as further evidence from the Government itself on how it spends ODA. Bond will continue monitor and update as the inquiry unfolds. 

Discuss ODA, UK aid and lots more at the Bond Conference, 26-27 February. Sessions include What's next from DFID?, Government funding beyond DFID and The UK's vision for international development.