Department for International Development: Wikis


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The Department For International Development (DFID) is a United Kingdom government department. It was separated from the foreign office in 1997.[1] The goal of the department is "to promote sustainable development and eliminate world poverty".


Current Ministers

As of 9 June 2009:[2]

The Permanent Secretary since 2008 at DFID is Nemat (Minouche) Shafik.[3]


Shadow Secretaries

The Conservative Party's Shadow Secretary of State is Andrew Mitchell MP.[4] The Liberal Democrat spokesman is Michael Moore MP.[5]


Originally created as the Ministry of Overseas Development (ODM) during the Labour government of 1964–70, the agency lost its ministerial status following the Conservative victory in 1979. Its successor, the Overseas Development Administration (ODA), was under the supervision of the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, at which time its primary remit was to promote UK exports to the developing world ("aid through trade"). During this period, it has been alleged that there was a connection between the granting of aid and the achievement of either foreign policy goals or British companies winning export orders.

A scandal erupted concerning the UK funding of a hydroelectric dam on the Pergau River in Malaysia, near the Thai border. Building work began in 1991 with money from the UK foreign aid budget. Concurrently, the Malaysian government bought around £1 billion worth of arms from the UK. The suggested linkage of arms deals to aid became the subject of a UK government inquiry from March 1994. In November 1994, after an application for judicial review ( R v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ex p The World Development Movement) brought by the World Development Movement, the High Court held that the then-Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd had acted ultra vires (outside of his power and therefore illegally) by allocating £234 million towards the funding of the dam, on the grounds that it was not of economic or humanitarian benefit to the Malaysian people[6].

In the 1980s part of the agency's operations were relocated to East Kilbride, with a view to creating jobs in an area subject to long-term industrial decline. In 1997 the administration of the UK's aid budget was removed from the Foreign Secretary's remit with the establishment of DFID under Clare Short. In 2002 they stopped tying aid to purchases from British companies.[1]


The main piece of legislation governing DFID's work is the International Development Act, which came into force on 17 June 2002, replacing the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act (1980). The Act makes poverty reduction the focus of DFID's work, and effectively outlaws tied aid. [7]

As well as responding to disasters and emergencies, DFID works to support the United Nations' eight "Millennium Development Goals", namely to:

  • halve the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger
  • ensure that all children receive primary education
  • promote sexual equality and give women a stronger voice
  • reduce child death rates
  • improve the health of mothers
  • combat HIV & AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • make sure the environment is protected
  • build a global partnership for those working in development.

- all with a 2015 deadline.

The reality may well be that none of these goals will be achieved so long as the trade gap between Africa and richer countries continues to widen. Former Secretary of State Hilary Benn has indicated that on current trends, we will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 [8].

DFID Research

DFID is the largest bilateral donor of development-focused research. New science, technologies and ideas are crucial for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, but global research investments are insufficient to match needs and do not focus on the priorities of the poor. Many technological and policy innovations require an international scale of research effort. For example, DFID was a major donor to the International LUBILOSA Programme: which developed a biological pesticide for locust control in support of small-holder farmers in the Sahel.

DFID Research commissions research to help fill this gap, aiming to ensure tangible outcomes on the livelihoods of the poor. They also seek to influence the international and UK research agendas, putting poverty reduction and the needs of the poor at the forefront of global research efforts.

DFID Research manages long-term research initiatives that cut across individual countries or regions, and only funds activities if there are clear opportunities and mechanisms for the research to have a significant impact on poverty.

Research is funded through a range of mechanisms, including Research Programme Consortia (RPCs), jointly with other funders of development research, with UK Research Councils and with multilateral agencies (such as the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Health Organisation) [9]. Information on both DFID current research programmes and completed research can be found on the Research4Development (R4D) portal.

DFID launched its first Research Strategy in April 2008 [10]. This emphasises DFID's commitment to funding high quality research that aims to find solutions and ways of reducing global poverty. The new strategy identifies six priorities:

  • Growth [11]
  • Health [12]
  • Sustainable Agriculture [13]
  • Climate Change [14]
  • Governance in Challenging Environments [15]
  • Future Challenges and Opportunities [16]

The strategy also highlights three important cross-cutting areas, where DFID will invest more funding:

  • Capacity Building [17]
  • Research Communication and Uptake [18]
  • Stimulating Demand for Research [19]

DFID has recently reviewed progress on its Research Strategy [1]

UKaid Rebranding

UKAiD logo

As of July 2009, DFID embarked on a rebranding effort in the developing world in order to make clear that its contributions are coming from Britain[20]. While the decision was met with some controversy among aid workers, Commons International Development Select Committee Chairman Malcolm Bruce justified the rebranding, claiming that "the name DfID does not reflect the fact that this is a British organisation; it could be anything. The Americans have USAID, Canada has got CIDA."[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b Pisani, Elizabeth (2009). The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS. Granta Books. p. 284,293. ISBN 1847080766.  
  2. ^ Ministerial Team
  3. ^
  4. ^ House of Commons Information Office (8 September 2009). "Her Majesty's Official Opposition". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 November 2009.  
  5. ^ House of Commons Information Office (13 July 2009). "Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet and Parliamentary Team". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 November 2009.  
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  21. ^ Britain's Help to the third World to be rebranded UKAid July 4, 2009 article from The Independent

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