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Racism in foreign aid sector probed by Committee

10 June 2021

The House of Commons International Development Committee, which is responsible for scrutinising UK government foreign aid, is to investigate the issue of racism in the aid sector. This is part of the Committee’s wider inquiry into the philosophy and culture of aid and it is seeking evidence on how the sector can ensure it is operating in a way which is actively anti-racist.

Tuesday 15 June 2021 (Virtual meeting)

  • Session will be conducted with remote participation by witnesses and Committee members

At 2.30pm

  • Dr. Tigist Grieve, Trustee, South West International Development Network, Senior Research Associate, University of Bristol
  • Faraz Hassan, Senior Technical Specialist, Social Development Direct
  • Dr. Rosanna Duncan, Chief Diversity Officer, Palladium International

Purpose of the Session

The aim of this public evidence session – the second session to take place so far on this topic - is to establish how international development charities and private sector contractors are trying to combat racism and what challenges they face in this regard. The Committee has received evidence that UK aid financed by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office mirrors most of the rest of the international aid sector in practices such as sending staff from the UK to run country offices in low income countries. The evidence suggests that this might perpetuate north-south power dynamics and potentially disenfranchise local communities.

These issues will be discussed at the meeting on 15 June with an academic and aid practitioner with particular expertise in working with small charities, as well as representatives from the development consultancies Social Development Direct and Palladium International. MPs attending the session may ask the expert witnesses about issues including:

  • Diversity and inclusion (with questions around the different treatment of internationally and locally hired staff);
  • Communications strategies (in light of the recent debate about a ‘white saviour’ narrative); and
  • How the aid sector works with the UK government, the authorities in countries where programmes are delivered and local communities.

The International Development Committee is one of numerous Parliamentary select committees that scrutinise the work of various parts of government. It mounts regular inquiries by taking written and oral evidence. Its reports on these inquiries are available to the public, help inform the work of government departments and hold the government to account.

Further information

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