Progress in Eliminating World Poverty: The Department for International Development 2003-2010

This paper is part of a series examining how the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) was born, functioned internationally and domestically, and merged in 2020 with the diplomatic service to form the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Other papers in the series are available here. We plan to release the series as a book next year.

This is the third in a series of papers on the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) between 1997 and 2020. It analyses DFID’s impact in reducing global poverty between 2003 and 2010, particularly in 18 low-income countries in which the majority of the world’s extreme poor lived and where the department focused much of its effort. The global context in this era was conducive for progress in poorer countries, until the environment deteriorated in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. DFID’s growing budget, influence, capability, focus, and political support from the highest levels of the UK government allowed it, in these years, to make a substantial contribution towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. These years also saw the emergence for the first time of a cross-party political consensus that the UK should aim to play a leading role in international development, creating a platform for a further decade of strong British commitment towards the reduction of global poverty. By 2010, however, there were signs of choppier waters ahead, with some features of the previous DFID approach beginning to fray.

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