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DFID-FCO merger must put poorer people's rights and needs first

An older woman living in a shelter funded by DFID following Cyclone Idai

Published on 17 June 2020 12:00 AM

Age International calls on the UK Government to put the rights and needs of poorer people first, including older women and men, in the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A focus on eliminating poverty, providing technical expertise, ensuring high levels of transparency and accountability, and a commitment to helping those who are furthest behind have been the hallmarks of the Department for International Development and have helped make the UK a world leader in international development.

The cross-party International Development Select Committee, the National Audit Office, and the Independent Commission on Aid Effectiveness have all pointed to the weaknesses of other government departments in spending UK aid money as effectively and transparently, and the risk that DFID’s poverty focus will get diluted.

The proposed Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Department needs to put in place guarantees that the UK public’s aid money is spent effectively, transparently and for the purpose with which it was given: to help the world’s poorest people.

“This announcement comes at a time when the world’s poorest older people need the support of the UK Government the most. DFID was one of the first development agencies to recognise the rights and needs of older women and men, and COVID-19 has demonstrated how important this is. We need greater commitment of the UK Government to those most in need in the world, and greater accountability for how the public’s money is spent – both risk being undermined by this merger.”

Chris Roles, Managing Director of Age International

“I am proud that the UK aid programme under DFID leadership  has saved countless lives, enabled girls to go to school, provided vaccinations so children live into healthy adulthood, protected health with clean water and sanitation, given shelter to those fleeing conflict and showed that we, the British people, value the lives and well-being of all people of all ages, genders, races and geographies. I urge the UK Government to continue to prioritise an aid programme focused on need and leaving no-one behind, including older people. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that we live in an interconnected world - the vulnerability of people anywhere leaves us all vulnerable.”

Ann Keeling, Chair of Age International

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Last updated: Oct 01 2020

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