Working Effectively in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: DRC and Rwanda - International Development Committee Contents


The Department for International Development is increasing its focus on fragile and conflict-affected states and the UK will spend 30% its Official Development Assistance (ODA)—approximately £3,414 million—in these states by 2015.

Given the scale of funding for fragile states, we decided to undertake a number of inquiries into this expenditure. In general, we support the Government's decision. Conflict and fragility impede efforts to reduce poverty; those suffering from conflict and instability deserve our assistance; and the prevention of conflict through development is cheaper than dealing with the aftermath of conflict.

However, we have a number of concerns. The rationale for DFID's patterns of spending in conflict-affected states is unclear. It is not clear how expenditure has been allocated between states in which the UK has an obvious security interest and those in which that interest is less obvious. DFID should make explicit this rationale. In a context where the DFID budget is increasing to meet internationally agreed ODA targets, it is important that the public understands the value—morally and politically—of the decision to invest increasing amounts of aid in fragile and conflict-affected states.

There is also a danger that development funds will be diverted to meet the UK's defence and diplomatic needs. Since other Government Departments will be spending some ODA, DFID must ensure they are clear about what activities are eligible for reporting as ODA and those which are not.

The Government's strategy carries risks. Money can easily be wasted in fragile states. DFID says it has a zero tolerance approach to corruption in its programmes. However, in countries where corruption and fraud are rife, we do not find it convincing to argue that none of DFID's funding is affected. DFID must be more open about the risks it faces to establish credibility with a sceptical public.

The UK will provide £90 million to Rwanda in 2014-15. Rwanda has made progress in reducing poverty. Although it is off-track to meet other Millennium Development Goal indicators, the Rwandan Government is confident it can meet them. However, concerns have been expressed about its human rights record and the lack of political pluralism. The UK Government has a good relationship with the Government of Rwanda, and must use its leverage more effectively to encourage the Government of Rwanda to increase freedom of speech and association.

DFID is investing £790 million in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the Comprehensive Spending Review period (2010-15). We support its focus on helping the poorest people in hard to reach places, even where there are no obvious UK national security interests. While the situation has improved since we last visited in 2006, fighting continues in the East and violence against women is widespread. DFID should include the reduction of violence against women and girls in its results framework for the DRC. Given the size of the DRC we recommend that DFID open a sub-office in eastern DRC to give it a better understanding of local conflict dynamics and help it to monitor and track its expenditure properly.

Building governance capacity is key. However, DFID's work in this area is mainly targeted at formal institutions and processes. We recommend that DFID change its priorities and invest more in community-led, local initiatives which respond to community priorities and give communities more confidence to hold their government to account.

Two thirds of the UK's funding for Rwanda will go directly to the Government in budget support. We support the use of budget support in states such as Rwanda where DFID can monitor the potential displacement effect of its aid and ensure aid does not enable members of governments to spend money on luxuries while leaving the British taxpayer to fund the country's basic services. Budget support is not provided to the DRC and we agree that it would not be appropriate to do so at present. DFID should nevertheless set clear conditions around transparency and accountability in the mining sector as part of its continued support to the DRC.

The UN peacekeeping force in the DRC, MONUSCO, has faced formidable challenges since it began operations in 1999 and has made considerable progress in helping to train elements of the DRC armed forces, the FARDC. However, it is time to reconsider the funding for and mandate of MONUSCO when it comes up for renewal in 2012. The UK should press for MONUSCO to become a more mobile and agile force which can quickly respond to incidents and to take a more active approach to apprehending perpetrators of violence. The nature of the force deployed by the UN depends on the mandate from the Security Council. The UK should seek to ensure mandates for more mobile and agile forces where appropriate.

Map 1: Map of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Map 2: Map of Rwanda

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Prepared 5 January 2012