Select Committee on Science and Technology Thirteenth Report

1 Introduction

1. UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) will amount to more than £4.1 billion in 2004-05 and is set to reach £6.5 billion a year by 2007-08. If the UK does reach its goal of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI), by 2013 at the latest overseas aid will amount to an estimated £9.7 billion a year, a huge increase over previous years.[1] These considerable sums reflect the scale of the challenge: 1.1 billion people live on less than $1 a day; 2 billion people lack adequate sanitation; 1.1 billon people do not have access to clean water; and 37.8 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. [2],[3]

2. In July 2003 we decided to conduct an inquiry to examine how science and technology are informing decisions on the spending of the aid budget, how research is being used to underpin policy making in international development, and how the UK is supporting science and technology in developing countries. We focused predominantly on the Department for International Development (DFID), which has responsibility for £3.8 billion of the aid budget in 2004-05. Whilst this is the first time that our Committee has specifically addressed the work of DFID, the International Development Select Committee has produced numerous Reports considering DFID's performance and activities.

3. We received more than 100 written submissions of evidence and held seven evidence sessions, during which we heard from:

  • officials from DFID;
  • organisations involved in capacity building;
  • organisations involved in agricultural, forestry and environmental R&D;
  • organisations involved in engineering and health R&D;
  • the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) and officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Trade and Investment and the British Council; and
  • the Secretary of State for International Development.

4. In addition, we visited the Overseas Development Institute, London, for discussions with Fellows and Directors of development research institutes. We also travelled to Malawi, where we visited agricultural and health projects and met, amongst others, the President of Malawi, Members of Parliament and senior officials.[4]

5. We are grateful to all those who have submitted evidence to this inquiry or assisted us in arrangements for our visits. We would also like to thank our Specialist Advisers: Andrew Barnett, Managing Director, Sussex Research Associates Ltd; Professor Anne Mills, Professor of Health Economics and Policy, and Head, Health Economics and Financing Programme, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Professor Michael Elves, Vice-Chairman of Rothamsted Research.

1   Based on current UK GNI. Back

2   Department for International Development, Departmental Report 2004, CM 6214 Back

3   HC Deb, 15 July 2004, HC 1255W Back

4   Annex B Back

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Prepared 26 October 2004