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’Ask local people’ - common sense policy for aid donors

13 January 2022

The Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP, has written to the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss MP, summarising policy advice on delivering development aid that the Committee gathered during its inquiry into ‘the philosophy and culture of aid’.

Some of the key points contained in Sarah Champion’s letter were:

  • Give greater ownership of aid programmes to people in receipt of aid – they often know as much, if not more, than visiting foreign ‘experts’
  • Build resilience in local communities – not dependence. Aid should make communities stronger for when aid donors have left
  • Make funding more accessible to smaller, local organisations and not just large international aid agencies
  • Work through governments where possible, not international organisations – do not subvert governments’ role as a provider of services

The letter cites many of the witnesses the inquiry heard from as it considered what the aid sector does well, how it can be improved and what role the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) should play in its development work.

Sarah Champion said in her communication with the Foreign Secretary that her committee hoped its work would help inform the International Development Strategy that the FCDO is currently drafting. The full text of the letter is here.

Chair's comments

Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP said:

“Our inquiry heard from a wide range of stakeholders over many months. What it comes down to is that we, as donors, should always be seeking to consult meaningfully with the communities where aid programmes are based. It’s not rocket science – ask the communities what’s needed, listen to their answers and ideally involve them in delivery.

“Dealing respectfully with local communities also means trying to make funding more accessible to smaller, grassroot organisations.

“All this builds long-term resilience. Getting there will require changes in working practices and mindsets at the FCDO and in the wider donor community, but it is the right thing to do.”

Further information

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