In June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the Department for International Development (DFID) will be merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to form a new ‘Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), whose work starts from the beginning of September.
While the intention behind this move is to align the UK’s foreign policy, defence and international development priorities, it is vital that this does not detract from the UK’s ability to fight global poverty, and to focus UK aid on the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. The new FCDO must ensure that its priorities, policies and programmes continue to focus firmly on this goal.
With the new Department setting its priorities and plans right now, this is a crucial time to remind the Government that the main aim of UK aid is poverty reduction. This should guide the Government’s choice of spending priorities, which should include: a continued focus on the importance of education; renewed commitment to nutrition programmes; ongoing support for the fight against infectious diseases such as TB and COVID-19; and strong support for immunisation programmes. As always, political will is needed to make these priorities a reality, and it is vital that the Government sees that there is strong public support for the new Department to focus on these important ‘human development’ objectives.
This month, please write to the Foreign Secretary, Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP, who will now be responsible for the UK’s international development work. Please ask him to ensure that UK aid focuses on these vital priorities in order to end global poverty and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.