Alliance says new department must help world’s poorest

Department for International Development will merge with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Scotland’s International Development Alliance has called on the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to make four commitments to help the poorest people in the world.

Plans were announced earlier this month to abolish the Department for International Development (DfID) as part of a merger with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday said the UK Government was “still absolutely committed and we intend to deliver on the merger by September” in what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously described as a “regrettable move”.

The alliance, with a membership of groups and individuals from more than 200 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), has now put forward four commitments it says are needed for the new department to have effective progress.

They are commitments to poverty eradication and aid effectiveness; to accountability, transparency and scrutiny; to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; and to safeguarding DfiD’s expertise.

It is backed by a wide range of Scottish-based NGOs including the Halo Trust, IDEAS, IIED, Oxfam Scotland, Sciaf, Tearfund Scotland, Carey Tourism, The Scotland Malawi Partnership, WaterAid, Water Witness International and Thrive.

Jane Salmonson, chief executive of the alliance, said: “The merging of DFiD and the FCO has caused many to raise concerns that the UK’s national interest could skew the development policy agenda.

“The alliance and many of its members have worked closely with the hugely experienced and talented team of specialists at DFiD.

“We are hopeful that working with the specialists and diplomats at the FCO will add to the skills and qualities needed to resource the UK’s renewed commitment to the world’s most vulnerable.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We welcome the contribution from the alliance. As the PM (Boris Johnson) said, the ambition, vision and expertise of DfID staff and the work of UK aid to reduce poverty globally will be at the heart of the new department.

“Merging the departments will also allow us to make the most of the opportunities ahead around tackling climate change as we prepare to host COP26 next year.”

“We remain committed to full transparency in our aid spending and there will continue to be parliamentary and independent scrutiny of the aid budget.”

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