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The UK’s approach to funding the UN humanitarian system


Independent Commission for Aid Impact

In this review, the ICAI/Agulhas team looked at how well DFID has used its position as a major donor to improve the value for money and effectiveness of humanitarian aid spent through UN agencies.

The review focuses on core funding – that is, unconditional funds paid to the central budgets of UN agencies, which can be allocated flexibly for central functions or to particular emergencies.

The review gave the UK’s approach a green-amber score. It found that DFID has a strong strategy for using its funding and influence to strengthen UN humanitarian agencies and global humanitarian practice, but its record to date in promoting practical reforms is mixed.

The review made the following recommendations:

  1. DFID should assess the practical implications of payment by results for agency budgets, planning and operations.
  2. DFID should step up its engagement with the international working groups translating the Grand Bargain principles into practical measures for improving humanitarian action.
  3. DFID should develop a plan for simplifying its reporting requirements for UN humanitarian agencies.
  4. DFID’s engagement with UN humanitarian agencies on effectiveness and VfM should address how they subcontract NGOs and the management overheads involved in doing so.
  5. DFID should review how it supports the normative functions of UN humanitarian agencies and ensure staff resources and budgets are available to support UN-led initiatives.

Areas of expertise: 

  • Aid effectiveness
  • Performance management and accountability
  • Aid architecture

Read the report

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