Reforming Development Assistance: Lessons from the UK Experience

39 Pages Posted: 4 May 2007

Date Written: October 2005


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 discuses 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.

Keywords: development, foreign aid, UK, poverty reduction, Department for International Development

JEL Classification: O1, F35

Suggested Citation

Barder, Owen Matthew, Reforming Development Assistance: Lessons from the UK Experience (October 2005). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 70, Available at SSRN: or

Owen Matthew Barder (Contact Author)

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics