Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department for International Development




Questions:  The PSA target on access to water appears to show an improvement [Page 44, Box3.g of Departmental Report]. But the target has been changed from "percentage of population with access to safe water" to "access to an improved water source". There would seem to be a big difference between the two things—"improved" is not the same as "safe". Why was the change made and how many other PSA targets have been changed? What difference has the change(s) made?


  1.  The original "access to safe water" indicator drew on data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In 2000 the WHO stopped producing data on access to safe water due to concerns over its reliability. They proposed that the international community use "access to an improved water source" as a comparable proxy indicator as this is easier to measure in a consistent way across countries. DFID therefore brought its PSA target into line with this recommendation.

  2.  The Committee correctly noted that the two indicators measure relatively different situations and so progress is not directly comparable. The WHO and the international community do, however, use "access to an improved water source" as a proxy indicator for "access to safe water". DFID would therefore expect the trends for both indicators to move in a similar way to indicate improvement or deterioration in the situation.

  3.  Until 2000, DFID reported good progress against the "access to safe water" indicator, with an increase from 72 per cent in 1994 to 77 per cent in 1996. The trend in "access to an improved water source" indicator shows a similar improvement from 73 per cent in 1990 to 79 per cent in 2000.

  4.  There are no other targets for which indicators changed during the lifetime of the 1999-2002 PSA, however, we did change two indicators between the 1999-2002 PSA and 2001-04 PSAs. Firstly, due to difficulties in collecting accurate, regular data on maternal mortality rates, DFID switched to measuring the internationally accepted proxy indicator of "births assisted by skilled birth attendants"—for which data is more widely available.

  5.  Secondly, DFID's 2001-04 PSA has dropped two targets on GDP growth that were in the 1999-2002 PSA. The population-weighted outcomes of the first target on GDP per capita growth were largely determined by performance in China, India, Russia, Indonesia, South Africa and Poland. In all these countries DFID support is small compared to the size of the overall economy. Therefore the target was not a very meaningful measure of DFID's performance. The second target on poorest 20 per cent of the population's share of GDP was dropped due to infrequent data collection. Changes in income inequality will be measured in the 2003-06 PSA by looking at the number of people living on less than $1 per day based on annual data provided by the World Bank.


Question:  Why is maternal mortality no longer part of the PSA?


  6.  Maternal mortality is part of the PSA for 2001-04. The target b) is "an increase in the proportion of births assisted by skilled attendants from a baseline established in 2000 of 43 per cent to 50 per cent on the basis of data available in 2004." The target for increasing the proportion of skilled attendants at births is an internationally accepted proxy indicator for maternal mortality.

  7.  DFID is fully committed to the goal of reducing maternal mortality, and is supporting a range of relevant activities and investments. These include: the establishment of a DFID-wide Maternal Mortality Taskforce; significant support for research and knowledge programmes concerned with reducing maternal mortality and for bilateral maternal health projects, including in Nepal, Malawi and Kenya. DFID is working closely with World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Family Population Fund (UNFPA), and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to contribute to international efforts around maternal mortality reduction. We have also been involved in the development of the Partnership for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health. This is a new international partnership due to be launched towards the end of 2002.


Questions:  What are the reasons for not setting a specific target for improved access to reproductive health care:  "In 1996 global assistance for reproductive health was $68 million. In 2000, it was $40 million."


  8.  Reproductive health continues to be a key priority for DFID and we remain firmly committed to the International Conference on Population and Development target of achieving access to reproductive health for all by 2015. We are convinced that reproductive health and rights are vital to making progress to attain the Millennium Development Goals to combat HIV/AIDS and lower maternal and child mortality. We consider it also a basic right of women and men to exercise informed and responsible choice in matters related to their sexual and reproductive health. We are disappointed by the attempts of a small number of states to roll back international consensus on the reproductive health and rights of the poor. The Government will continue to work with the international community to ensure that reproductive health receives the priority it demands.


  9.  The PSA does cover reproductive health. A proxy indicator of increasing contraceptive prevalence supports this. There is no internationally agreed target for levels of contraceptive prevalence and we are therefore using the proxy to track whether the trend is positive or not. We are working on an improvement on 32 per cent prevalence—The figure for 2000 was 35 per cent.

  10.  Our funding for sexual and reproductive programmes is increasing. Our bilateral expenditure alone has increased from £38 million in 1997-98 to over £206 million in 2001-02.

  11.  We share Marie Stopes International's (MSI) concern about the unmet need for reproductive health commodities, including condoms. However, the figures for donor support for reproductive health commodities quoted in MSI's memorandum are inaccurate. In fact, contributions from donors have fallen from US$172.2 million in 1996 to US$154 million in 2000 (source UNFPA)—not from $68 million to $40 million. The UK is one of the leading bilateral providers of condoms and other forms of contraceptives to developing countries. We are also supporting a number of male and female condom social marketing programmes. We are helping UNFPA to provide the widest achievable range of safe and effective family planning and contraceptive methods, including condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS. In January 2001, we provided UNFPA with a grant of £25 million to help meet immediate needs for reproductive health commodities, including condoms, in a range of countries facing immediate shortages. We have also committed US$200 million to the Global Fund against AIDS, TB and Malaria. We have not earmarked our contribution for specific issues, but the Fund is able to support applications for support to reproductive health commodities.

  12.  We welcome the involvement of NGOs in delivering sexual and reproductive health services including commodities. Specifically on reproductive health commodities, we are increasingly looking to UNFPA to assume a global co-ordination role to ensure demand for commodities including condoms is met. We encourage NGOs to collaborate closely with UNFPA on this issue.

  13.  We look forward to continuing a dialogue with NGOs on a range of sexual and reproductive health issues.


Question  (i) Reasons for selecting the particular four states in Nigeria as reform-minded states?


  14.  DFID Nigeria has selected four states in Nigeria over the last three years in accordance with its Country Strategy Paper commitment to support State Governments that are committed to reform.

  15.  State selection began with Benue in 1999, Jigawa in 2000 and Ekiti and Enugu in 2001. The process became more refined as we learnt from experience and developed the concept of partnership states. Benue was automatically selected as DFID knew it from earlier work and the Secretary of State who visited in March 2000 confirmed its selection. Jigawa was selected for a public sector reform programme. This experience formed the basis for refining selection criteria for future state selection.

  16.  Selection criteria have been formalised as evidence of potential to be a reforming state and evidence of potential to impact on MDGs. Within these, sub criteria include assessments of change agents in state and local government and civil society and state government's performance to date, priorities, openness and willingness to engage. But:

    —  Assessing reform potential is highly subjective, particularly in a context of democratic transition when many new actors emerge who are strong on rhetoric but have no track record.

    —  States had to come from four different geographical zones to show DFID's ethnic neutrality.

    —  Selection was relative to other states in the zone and not against a benchmark.

  17.  Ekiti and Enugu were then selected after desk studies, and cross-sectoral visits reviewing the reform criteria.

Information requested:  (ii) A paper on the process adopted in Russia for identifying reformers—it seems that local government was asked to compete for DFID aid and that the bidding process helped make clear what are the obligations of the recipients.




  18.  Under the 1998 CSP DFID worked in eight "focal" oblasts in Russia (St Petersburg, Leningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Oryol, Kemerovo, Sverdlovsk, Rostov). In some, such as Oryol, this was a limited to a handful of projects in one sector whereas in others, eg Sverdlovsk, we developed an extensive multi-sectoral portfolio.

  19.  One of the key findings of the 2000 end of cycle review was that this policy had left us too thinly spread to manage our programme and had resulted in too many "pinprick" project interventions rather than a structured programme with the oblasts. As a result, projects could be based on the interest of a particular individual within an oblast administration rather than a policy commitment. Our influence on the policies of oblasts was therefore limited.

  20.  Under the 2001 CSP it was agreed that we would pursue a closer relationship with two oblasts that were most supportive of poverty reduction as regional partners, to match our close engagement with the federal government and the Gref Plan. This strategic choice was based on our poverty analysis in the CSP, which indicated that we should be targeting good policy environments to have the biggest impact on poverty. We concluded that the best way of selecting good policy environments would be through open competition (but restricted to the existing eight focal oblasts to keep the process manageable).


  21.  To take the end of cycle review conclusions seriously, we felt that a partnership approach should be reflected in the selection process of the partner oblasts. Our objective was to demonstrate fairness and transparency in this process.

  22.  As part of the selection process we had to recognise that some oblasts had more understanding of DFID than others. In order to level the playing field and ensure a good understanding of what we were trying to do, we appointed a team of consultants to act as a "partnership oblast support team" to work with the oblasts.

  23.  Following the launch of the CSP in each of the oblasts during July, we sought expressions of interest from the oblast Governors by September, to which all eight replied. The oblasts were then asked to submit applications (in Russian) by mid-November using a loose template, against the following selection criteria:

    (a)  Poverty focus—degree to which the oblast's development plans address issues of poverty and social exclusion by raising the living standards of ordinary people and reducing inequality (20 per cent).

    (b)  Commitment—degree to which the oblast wants to involve DFID in key development issues such as the budget, and whether this is backed up with appropriate human and financial resources (20 per cent).

    (c)  Capacity—how realistic are the oblast's development plans, in terms of its needs and resources (human and financial). Will it be able to deliver on the proposed partnership with DFID (20 per cent).

    (d)  Partnerships—has the oblast brought in other tiers of government (city, raion, municipality) and civil society actors (20 per cent).

    (e)  Other donors—does the oblast have mechanisms proposed or in place to integrate its work with DFID with its programmes with other donor agencies (10 per cent).

    (f)  Dissemination—does the oblast have a track record (or potential) of piloting ideas that are replicated elsewhere in the Federation (10 per cent).

  24.  All the oblasts submitted substantial applications but there were wide differences in the interest in the poverty agenda and understanding of working with DFID. All members of the Russia team in London and in country were invited to comment on the papers. Head EECAD, Senior Programme Manager Russia and Head Development Section Moscow took the decision.

  25.  The Secretary of State endorsed the final choice of Leningrad and Nizhny Novgorod. All oblasts were notified in writing in January and offered an opportunity for oral feedback on their applications.

KemerovoWe have expended considerable effort to develop a portfolio in Kemerovo as a foothold in Siberia. Enormous social problems but a difficult working environment. Weak application with lack of attention to poverty and misunderstanding of what DFID can offer.
LeningradThe hinterland of St Petersburg made up of mono-company towns and marginal agriculture. Good poverty focus in application, a joined up approach and sound proposals on how the partnership can be delivered.
Nizhny NovgorodThe third city of Russia and one of the early reform pioneers. Over a million people living in poverty, a number the oblast administration wants to halve by 2005. Well-developed relationship with DFID reflected in concrete proposals for future co-operation.
OryolA small, heavily agricultural oblast. A very strong application on paper but real questionmarks about ownership by the oblast Governor. Not convincing that they can deliver on paper promises.
RostovThe leading city of the south and one with close ties to the Embassy. Application lacked a proper analysis of poverty issues and confined narrowly to "social policy".
St PetersburgA wealthy city where our programme has been running down over time. Application lacked poverty focus, rather seeking a continuation of existing initiatives, particularly on public finance reform.
SamaraOur richest oblast where we have a well-developed health and social policy portfolio. Application mainly focused on our existing areas of assistance, limited ideas on how to take the partnership into new areas. Likely to benefit from DFID health initiatives through federal Ministries.
SverdlovskIndustrial powerhouse of the Urals but with growing social problems. SoS visited in June 2000. A lot of active DFID projects but has proved to be a poor policy environment in the past. Application lacked poverty focus, seeing this narrowly as social protection, and lacked clear priorities.


Information requested:  Chart showing how DFID resources allocated.


  26.  Please see the two enclosed charts: (i) 2000 Net ODA to Low Income Countries as a percentage of net ODA allocable by Income Group and, (ii) G7 2000 Bilateral ODA by CPIA rating for IDA Countries[16].


Questions:  How would you respond to the charge that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are simply not appropriate measures for individual development agencies, in that it is not possible (after the event) to attribute responsibility to DFID for progress on a particular target?


  27.  The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) frame all of DFID's activities and programmes. We have linked DFID's performance to progress against the MDGs by integrating key human development Goals relating to health and education into the Department's 2001-04 Public Service Agreement (PSA). However, we recognise that there are problems with attribution.

  28.  The PSA targets on health and education mirror the MDGs. Progress against these targets is measured in ten key partner countries in which DFID is closely engaged. These countries were chosen on the basis of where DFID spends the majority of its resources. Whilst it is not possible exclusively to attribute progress against the MDGs in these countries to the interventions of DFID—or any individual donor—we believe we can make a plausible link between the concentration of our financial (and human) resources in these countries and progress against the core human development outcomes.

  29.  Our draft 2003-06 PSA will strengthen the link between measuring progress at MDG level and at divisional, departmental and individual level in DFID.

  30.  It is worth noting that DFID's impact is captured in a range of other performance measures, notably project scores, annual reviews of our bilateral country programmes and major evaluation studies of other aspects of our work.


Question:  (i) How reliable are the statistics against which DFID assesses its performance against the IDTs?


  31.  There are known problems with availability, reliability and timeliness of the data for monitoring progress on development outcomes. This is a characteristic of poor statistical systems in poor countries. Where possible DFID takes figures directly from the databases of the World Bank (for example their World Development Indicators database) or from the UN agency which has responsibility for the particular indicator. These are the most comprehensive and comparable sources of data for these indicators but in most cases they rely on weak national statistical systems to provide the country-level data.

  32.  The process of data collation by international agencies sometimes adds a considerable timelag, often of two to three years or more, to the process. Thus DFID often supplements international data with data obtained directly from the countries themselves.

  33.  Poor quality of data hampers policymaking and performance management in most developing countries and thus also DFID country teams. There is both a short term need to improve the statistics required for global monitoring of progress towards the MDGs and a longer term need to build sustainable capacity at national level. DFID is working with other development agencies to help build the capacity in developing countries to collect and use statistical data. The main focus of collaboration by international development agencies in this area is a programme called "Partnerships in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century". Over the past year, a number of regional workshops have been organised in some 40 countries under this programme which have encouraged co-operation and dialogue between users and producers of statistics in developing countries.

Question:  (ii) Do country programmes include targets that are commensurate with DFID's high-level targets/MDGs?


  34.  DFID has recently undertaken a major review of the Department's country planning processes to ensure that DFID's proposed interventions would be explicitly linked to DFID's PSA targets and thus the MDGs. DFID's new Country Assistance Plans will be required to include an annex reporting on progress at the country level against PSA objectives/targets, as well as MDGs. The Plans represent performance contracts between the country team and the Regional Director. They will be annually reviewed and will feed into each Director's report on progress in their Divisions.

  35.  In the 2003-06 PSA, which is currently being negotiated as part of the 2002 Spending Review, regional targets have been aggregated from targets set out in countries' own poverty strategies. This will ensure close alignment between the MDGs, PSA targets and the Country Assistance Plans' interim outcomes.

Question:  (iii) Who in DFID is responsible for ensuring progress against individual MDGs? Are senior policy advisers responsible for ensuring the contribution of country teams to targets?


  36.  At present, the Secretary of State is formally accountable for progress against DFID's 2001-04 PSA and thus progress towards the MDGs. Within DFID, senior management are collectively responsible for DFID's contribution to the MDGs.

  37.  The performance management system designed around the proposed 2003-06 PSA will formalise this internal responsibility by holding senior management directly accountable for progress against PSA targets and objectives. Senior Management will manage performance through six-monthly reviews drawing on the Directors' annual PSA progress reports, Directors' Statements and the annual Departmental Report. They will also be provided with the quarterly PSA returns to the Treasury.

  38.  Individual Directors in discussion with advisers and other colleagues will incorporate MDG/PSA objectives and targets directly into their job plans and allocate resources accordingly. Their success will be measured yearly against delivery of outcomes. Successful delivery will require that PSA objectives and targets be "cascaded" down to departmental, team and individual work plans. This will ensure ownership by all parts of the office of each target and create a "ladder of accountability".


Question:  (i) What evidence is there to show that further benefits can be gained from extending budget support from individual spending departments (for example, education in Ghana) to simply giving the support to the Finance Ministry of the country concerned?

Answer:  [Reply to follow separately][17]

Question:  (ii) How does DFID rank or prioritise its different mechanisms for transferring resources to the South?


  39.  DFID does not have a mechanistic ranking. We choose what is best to achieve sustainable poverty reduction in the particular circumstances. In low income aid dependent countries where the government has a credible commitment to poverty reduction and to improving public finance management and accountability, there are strong arguments that the bulk of financial transfers to government should take the form of DBS. This does not however preclude support for genuinely transformational projects or support direct to civil society or the private sector.


Questions:  CDC Capital Partners' investments are still recorded as part of the UK Government's development expenditure. The shift in focus of CDC's investments away from agriculture to retail and telecommunications has been much commented on. Is it still appropriate to count investment in, for example, ICT in India as part of poverty-focused spending? What will be the effect of the transformation of CDC into a public/private partnership on the inclusion of its investments in figures showing UK expenditure on bilateral aid?


  40.  Statistical reporting of CDC investments is made in accordance with definitions set by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD. The test for deciding whether official flows to oda eligible countries should be counted as oda is that they are intended to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. CDC investments meet this test.

  41.  While CDC remains a public body its investments will count as an official flow and need to be reported where they qualify under DAC criteria. The first test for deciding whether official flows count as oda is that they are intended to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. CDC investments meet this test. The form of the Public/Private Partnership has yet to be decided. This may affect CDC official status and hence oda eligibility. Statistical reporting is made in accordance with definitions set by DAC.


Information requested:  Note on DFID's support for UN institutional reform (including WHO and FAO) and progress being made.


  42.  DFID's strategies for working in partnership with the UN are set out in a series of Institutional Strategy Papers (ISPs), the first for the UN system as a whole and one for each of the main UN development organisations. DFID is providing financial and technical assistance and working in UN inter-governmental fora and in the Executive Boards of the UN's development funds, programmes and specialised agencies to encourage each agency to focus on its areas of comparative advantage in helping to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to improve its systems for measuring and evaluating its results and performance, and to co-ordinate closely with other UN bodies and the World Bank. The aim of DFID's inputs is to improve the UN's poverty reduction impact at country level.

  43.  DFID has committed about £3.5 million in technical co-operation to support UNDP's reform programme. UNDP has embarked on an ambitious and wide-ranging reform programme which seeks to sharpen the focus of UNDP's programmes, to improve the quality of its Resident Coordinators and to develop its results-based management system. DFID is providing support for UNICEF in its efforts to develop a rights-based approach to development programming; and is providing significant support to build UNICEF's capacity to respond to crisis and emergency situations. DFID is also considering a set of capacity building projects to assist UNICEF in implementing its new Medium Term Strategic Plan.

  44.  WHO is actively engaged in a reform process aimed at strengthening country focus, aligning its human and financial resources with its strategic planning and focusing its activities on poverty reduction and the relevant MDGs. DFID is supporting WHO in its pursuit of improved institutional performance and better health outcomes. DFID funds are targeted to enable WHO to set its own internal priorities and to address its weaknesses at country level. As WHO reform enters a second and deeper phase, DFID and other like-minded donors intend to monitor progress based on country performance.

  45.  DFID collaborated with UNESCO to develop its results-based programming system and helped with the training of UNESCO's staff in project cycle management. DFID is now supporting training for UNESCO staff in the use of the new financial, budget and accounting systems, which support the results-based programming system. DFID also provides support for the evaluation work of UNESCO's new internal oversight system.

  46.  The FAO has initiated a series of reforms since 1994—including significant decentralisation, a strategic framework and changes to the programming, budgetary and accountability procedures—but further reform is needed to increase its effectiveness and efficiency. DFID is an influential member of the Council and the finance committee and is supporting key institutional change initiatives. A core element of DFID's ISP—which is currently being written—will be to push for the introduction of term limits for the post of Director General.

  47.  The UN Development Group Office (UNDGO) has responsibility for UN system co-ordination at country level. DFID has a portfolio of projects worth about £3.5 million with UNDGO. We have funded guidelines for the UN's Common Country Assessment (CCA) and UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF)—which aim to promote a more joined-up and strategic approach by the various UN agencies in support of country-owned poverty reduction strategies. We are funding training for UN Country Teams in the implementation of the guidelines. We have agreed a substantial contribution to UNDGO's country co-ordination trust fund, which is designed to achieve a more coherent UN system-wide effort at country level. DFID is also funding training for Country Teams and resource persons to develop common services (budgeting, programming and procurement) for the UN family in country.

  48.  Much of our training support for UNDGO has been provided through the UN Staff College in Turin. We provided £1 million to help establish the College, which became a permanent body of the UN in January this year. DFID has subsequently committed around £3 million for targeted training courses. The College aims to promote the UN reform agenda by providing training for key UN agency staff in priority areas for UN reform.

  49.  There is a clear need for a strong international system that is well equipped to cope with crises—both natural disasters and complex emergencies—where national governments are unable to fulfil their responsibilities to protect their citizens. DFID's Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Department (CHAD) is therefore supporting institutional reform in various key parts of the UN. Jointly agreed Institutional Strategy Papers (ISPs) with the UN agencies identify long-term priorities. Much of this work focuses on developing better systems and procedures at headquarters to ensure that programmes in the field are delivered in a timely, appropriate and effective manner in the event of a crisis.

  50.  For example, we have been supporting the World Food Programme (WFP) to develop tools for emergency preparedness and to review food security units (which later played a crucial role in both Sierra Leone and Afghanistan in 2001). The ISP with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) began in April 2002, although smaller, focused grants were provided in previous years. The partnership focuses on developing co-ordination and partnerships in the humanitarian system and developing staff capacities for protection, emergency preparedness and evaluation.

  51.  Over the past three years, DFID support for the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has enhanced co-ordination and policy development functions in a strategic, forward-thinking manner. It has also strengthened capacity to evaluate and learn lessons from past activities and supported internal strengthening and restructuring of the field support functions in Geneva.

  52.  CHAD also works with selected units within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) which are responsible for responding to crises.

  53.  In conjunction with the MOD and FCO, through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, DFID is also advancing a range of projects aimed at building the UN's capacity to run effective peace operations. There are signs that this concerted effort, building on the UN's own internal reform processes (for example significant restructuring within DPKO), is beginning to improve effectiveness.


Question:  Reasons for bilateral aid to Singapore and Brunei?

Answer:  [Reply to follow separately][18]

Department for International Development

10 July 2002

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17   Ev 35. Back

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