Tearfund submission to the International Development Committee consultation for the terms of reference of an inquiry on the philosophy and culture of aid.

 

1.            Christian relief and development agency, Tearfund, welcomes this opportunity to submit written evidence to the International Development Committee. Tearfund works through local churches and other locally based organisations in more than 50 countries.

 

2.            Why the UK gives foreign aid and what the benefits are to countries such as the UK of having an aid budget.

2.1.            This inquiry should question what benefits are appropriate for a country to derive from having an aid budget and what values and principles should be driving the giving of foreign aid.

2.1.1.            The UK has spent 0.7% of GNI on aid since 2013, and enshrined it in law in 2015. Government aid has long been a tool of soft power. Indirect benefits such as mitigating climate change and health risks, contributing to greater security and economic growth globally are vital. However, there is a difference between this and the implication that a more direct benefit should be obtained from the aid budget which has recently emerged along with the narrative of ‘aid in the national interest’. Furthermore, in November 2020 the UK Government announced its plan to cut ODA to 0.5% in 2021. It is vital for the UK's global standing that it maintain its commitment to aid, particularly at this time where less developed countries are experiencing unprecedented challenges.

2.1.2.            The inquiry should also examine the role in decision making for UK foreign aid, of agreements such as: Humanitarian Principles, International Human Rights Law, Freedom of Religion and Belief[1], Sustainable Development Goals, Responsibility To Protect (R2P), the Grand Bargain. The committee may find it helpful to consider why the UK gives foreign aid within the context of the UK’s role as a global leader in promoting freedom; human rights; good governance; and climate protection, and the moral responsibility associated with these that we hold as a part of humanity.

2.2.            This inquiry comes in the context of a shift in the underlying philosophy, purpose and nature of aid, accelerated not only by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also by the ongoing global justice and decolonisation movements, which are altering perceptions of aid both domestically and internationally and should look at what the implications are of this shift for government aid.

2.3.            The inquiry may also find it insightful to examine the narrative around the giving of aid, the power dynamics within those narratives and whether those are helpful and empowering for less economically developed countries.

 

3.            The problems and challenges that the aid sector faces and how aid delivery can be improved.

3.1.            The inquiry should examine how to strengthen locally led humanitarian response

3.1.1.            There are clear benefits to localisation and working with local faith actors. Research we have co-published like Bridge Builders[2] and Keeping the Faith[3] have both demonstrated the importance of enabling the work of local faith actors and given examples of good practice on their integration into humanitarian response.  Over the past 3-4 years there have been initiatives by UN agencies including the WHO, UNHCR and UNICEF involving both faith agencies and other humanitarian actors.  However, there has been little overarching policy or coordination, and Tearfund is keen to see more effective collaboration between local faith actors and OCHA, especially in areas like the development of Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) or Humanitarian Needs Overview.  It is important we also see a stronger commitment from institutional donors, such as the FCDO, to seek out these good practises and integrate working with local and faith actors into their funding strategies. 

3.1.2.            The UK’s response to humanitarian crises in developing countries should recognise and support the role of crisis affected communities and local humanitarian responders, including local faith actors in shaping context appropriate responses.

3.1.3.            Global and country-level ODA-funded programmes should be urged to clarify how they are consulting local faith based organisations and faith leaders in humanitarian preparedness, disaster risk reduction and responses.

 

3.2.            The inquiry should look at how the efficiency and effectiveness of funding can be improved, including greater flexibility and improved access for national and local actors.

3.2.1.            In line with Grand Bargain commitments and the growing capacities of local and national actors, direct funding to national actors from donors should increase. All agencies have running costs and so it is also important to ensure they receive the full Internal cost recoveries (ICR) for any grants, regardless of whether this is direct or through a lead INGO.

3.2.2.            Multi-year funding allows agencies to plan and allocate resources more efficiently. It also enables programmes to more effectively address issues across the humanitarian - development - peace nexus and this ensures they have holistic, attainable, and longer lasting benefits. Therefore, there should be an increase in multi-year funding, as the resultant efficiency this offers organisations will enable greater value for money. Despite the value of multi-year funding being well established, the inquiry should look at why this has not translated into more widespread funding practice. 

3.2.3.            Aid and development programmes are traditionally structured around logframes with clear objectives, outcomes, outputs and activities. This level of focus can be useful for project planning and monitoring but projects are typically implemented in uncontrolled and dynamic environments. Changes in contexts and needs require flexibility in the delivery of programmes to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate and ensure best value for money. Donors should therefore allow greater flexibility in the delivery of programmes alongside a focus on objectives and outcomes rather than activities and outputs. This flexibility has been demonstrated intermittently and so the inquiry should review the impact of crisis modifiers alongside different design approaches.

 

3.3.            The inquiry should explore the potential for increasing the prioritisation of disaster risk financing including anticipatory and forecast based financing

3.3.1.            With the increasing frequency and scale of disasters around the world, which are resulting in ever increasing populations in need of humanitarian assistance, the gap between aid funding and national/international appeals continues to rise year on year. The evidence and benefits of disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness is well established and this is now being strengthened by increased focus on early warning and early action. Research on this is demonstrating how providing aid before a crisis develops, on the basis of predicted risk, can reduce the impact of disasters by enabling at risk people to have the resources to adapt and protect their lives and livelihoods. This results in less suffering, less loss and damages and a cheaper and quicker recovery. New funding approaches that focus on disaster risk financing including anticipation and forecast based financing can provide opportunities for increasing response timeliness, efficiencies and better value for money.

 

3.4.            The inquiry should examine the relationship between UK foreign aid and other mechanisms and areas in which the UK engages with nations which are recipients of UK aid, to understand and take advantage of the potential that could be created through coordination and collaboration. Such other mechanisms and areas could include International Trade, Global and Domestic Security, and other spheres in which the UK plays a role in bilateral and multilateral fora. Exploring these relationships is critical for working on issues such as Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV), Countering Violence Extremism (CVE), and Climate Change.

 


[1] OHCHR, Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (1981) https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/religionorbelief.aspx#:~:text=1.,of%20thought%2C%20conscience%20and%20religion.&text=Freedom%20to%20manifest%20one%27s%20religion,rights%20and%20freedoms%20of%20others.

[2] Tearfund et al, Bridge Builders: Strengthening the role of local faith actors in humanitarian response in South Sudan (2020) https://learn.tearfund.org/-/media/learn/resources/reports/2019-tearfund-bridge-builders-en.pdf

[3] Tearfund, Christian Aid, CAFOD & Islamic Relief Worldwide, Keeping the faith: The role of faith leaders in the Ebola response (2015) http://www.tearfund.org/~/media/files/main_site/news/keepingthefaith.pdf