Select Committee on International Development Sixth Report


The International Development Committee has agreed to the following Report:



The Department for International Development's (DFID's) activities cover all stages of the cycle of development policy and practice from people's experiences of poverty, to measurement and models of poverty and its reduction, to policies, actions, and back to the experience of—hopefully reduced—poverty. In pursuit of its goal of eliminating world poverty, DFID works in partnership with a range of organisations, at and across global, national, and local levels. DFID is a small but important cog in an extremely complex system of international development. This—along with the impossibility of identifying DFID's specific contribution to poverty reduction, as opposed to that of the international development community as a whole—makes it difficult for DFID to be accountable for its actions. The Departmental Report is an opportunity for DFID to demonstrate how it integrates the cycle of development policy and practice, and to account for its spending in pursuit of its aims and objectives.

This report examines DFID's Departmental Report for 2002, commenting on the picture it paints of DFID's activities, and suggesting ways in which it—and the activities which it reports on—might be improved in subsequent years. Taking its lead from DFID's Departmental Report, this report focuses on DFID's translation of policy into action through the injection and allocation of resources. Key themes include the following:

  • The importance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Public Service Agreement (PSA) in driving and organising DFID's work;

  • DFID's resource allocation processes and the potential tension which results from having primarily sectoral targets and primarily geographical resource allocations;

  • The new Public Service Agreement and Country Assistance Plans, which promise to make DFID a more effective development agency;

  • DFID's portfolio of countries, the ways in which DFID decides which countries to be involved in—including its assessment of its comparative advantage—and the nature of DFID involvement;

  • The monitoring and evaluation of progress towards the MDGs, and of DFID's development interventions at the grassroots.

We believe that DFID needs to make its strategy—the ways in which it integrates the cycle of development policy and practice—more explicit. We welcome therefore, innovative mechanisms such as those piloted in Russia to select partner countries on the basis of a clear strategy and explicitly-stated criteria. By being both strategic and explicit, DFID will become a more accountable and more effective development agency. To this end, future Departmental Reports must provide clear answers to the following questions:

  • What are DFID's objectives and how is the achievement of these objectives expected to contribute to the achievement of the MDGs?

  • What resources does DFID have to achieve its objectives, and how have these resources been allocated, both by objective and by country?

  • What is DFID's model of poverty and of the obstacles to achieving its poverty reduction objective, and how does this model inform DFID's policy, activities and spending?

  • What activities has DFID been engaged in in pursuit of its objectives, and where, and what have been the results of these activities?

  • How does DFID monitor and evaluate its activities and their contribution to achieving the MDGs, and test and develop its model of poverty and its overall strategy for the elimination of poverty?

Background and acknowledgements

We announced an inquiry into the Department for International Development's Departmental Report on 8 May 2002. During the course of the inquiry, DFID provided written and oral evidence to supplement the information already contained in the 2002 Departmental Report and other DFID publications. In total we received six written memoranda, and held one evidence session with DFID officials at Westminster.

We are grateful to all the people and organisations who gave evidence to the inquiry, and to those who assisted us in other ways. We would like to thank especially the following people from DFID who gave oral evidence: Suma Chakrabarti, Permanent Secretary; Richard Manning, Director-General for Policy; and Mark Lowcock, Director for Finance and Development Policy.

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Prepared 14 November 2002