Since its creation in 1997, the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) has been recognized as a global leader in development. Described by the Economist as being "a model for other rich countries," DFID has resolutely focused on reducing poverty in the poorest countries, and has refused to tie aid to commercial or political interests. With strong Cabinet-level leadership and legislative backing for its mandate, it has become the main body that shapes development policy across the UK Government.
Reforming Development Assistance: Lessons from the UK Experience by CGD Senior Program Associate Owen Barder examines the changes in institutional arrangements and development policy that led to the creation of DFID, and discusses the elements that have contributed to its success. Among the most impressive achievements is its independence and ability to overcome the myopia of short-term political interests to focus on long-term goals of poverty reduction. But there remain challenges ahead for the new Department. The paper suggests that the UK's experience with DFID offers valuable lessons from which the donor community can learn.