The NSS 2015 & SDSR 2015: The “Development” parts Part 1

Author’s note: Devex won’t accept this so here it goes…

So the much awaited National Security Review and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 is out. As the title(s) imply, it’s not just a military-centred document, but one that covers defence, foreign affairs and yes international development approaches.

The UK has a strong but not excellent record in the field of development since the formation of the Department for International Development (DFID). Continued by the 2010-2015 Coalition government and now the Conservative-led government, DFID is projected to be a key mechanism for the UK’s development and wider diplomatic efforts. The document gave a substantial amount of focus on development, particularly in Chapter 5. The first main open comes on page 48, paragraph 5.6. It reads:

We administer and fund the Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth scholarship schemes through DFID and FCO, which create lasting relationships with the global leaders of our current and future partners. We will fund and administer approximately 2,200 awardsa year for young people of high ability to study in the UK through the Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth scholarship schemes.

That’s an easy way to promote development; after all educating people from developing countries is a common route to development and sort of within Official Development Assistance (ODA) guidelines. Of course, scholarship recipients will still need to pay the Home Office a fee for Tier 4 visas.

Another major and well known point the review made in paragraphs 5.8 to to 5.11. These emphasise on DFID’s “enormous” aid budget, most-notably the 0.7% of GDP/GNI United Nations (UN) ODA target. It is a no-brainer to some that this percentage target is quite outdated. Nevertheless the term “0.7” appears 7 times in the whole document, especially in the foreword by the Prime Minister and it being mentioned in the the second paragraph of Chapter 1. While aid as “0.7 of [UK’s] GDP/GNI” is the phrase sine 2010, the document did give indications how this portion of aid would be utilised. With the title “A Secure and Prosperous United Kingdom” the document indicates that a good portion of aid would be used to address activities in fragile and and conflict states. This is mentioned in the PM’s foreword and the term appears around fifteen times in the document.

Fragile or conflict states have of course been a critical area of interests for donors and organisations. The Fragile State Index index gives a great picture of the range of extreme and possible fragile states. This move by by DFID is not new; they have, since 2010, made it a policy to spend 30% of ODA in conflict and/or fragiel states. DFID might have done that across the Coalition government years, but aid effectiveness from such aid projects is always questionable. The UK plans to increase the percentage of its ODA towards such states, so it is really dubious what impact ODA in those countries will achieve.

To Be Continued due to own schedule.

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