Will we lose DFID as a frontrunner on international aid transparency?

Though it might not have come as a complete surprise, the decision to merge the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is worrying from an aid transparency perspective [1, 2].

DFID has been a champion of the International Aid Transparency Initiative since its early days, being the first organisation to publish data to IATI in January 2011 [3], and pushing both the IATI Standard and the use of IATI data by all stakeholders. The merger not only threatens the level of aid transparency within the UK government, but also the UK contribution to make all humanitarian activities worldwide more transparent and accountable.

The IATI secretariat, based at Development Initiatives (DI), has issued a statement openly articulating their concerns. They assert it is crucial that DFID will not lose its best practice in the merger and maintain its commitment to ensuring all UK aid meets IATI standards. 

As DI states “While DFID has held high rankings in independent assessments on transparency, the FCO has struggled. In a transparency review by PublishWhatYouFund in January 2020, FCO was classed as ‘poor’ in 2018, rising to ‘fair’ in 2020, but still behind most other aid-spending departments.” 

Being part of the worldwide IATI community and a strong promoter of aid transparency, we as D4D and Zimmerman like to express our concerns on this matter as well and would regret to lose DFID as a frontrunner on international aid transparency.