Even with the recently announced cuts to UK development aid, the United Kingdom will still be spending around £10 billion a year on overseas aid from 2020 onwards.
£10 billion is a lot of money, so it’s fair enough that we should be able to keep track of where our tax money is going!
Thankfully it is relatively easy to keep track of where they money is being spent.
All you need to do is to go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Development Tracker
This tool provides you with an overview of the countries in which we spend most aid, and the areas of development – so you can see that last year we spent the most aid in Ethiopia and health was the main area of expenditure…
You can then click through to individual countries, and from there to individual projects, for example this link will take you to an overview of ‘solar Nigeria‘ – a project with a 5 year budget of £66 million to provide solar energy to schools and hospitals.
How do we measure the effectiveness of Aid spending?
NB – knowing where our aid money is spent is not the same as evaluating the impact!
To evaluate the impact of any of the projects listed on this site you need click on further tabs to get the the ‘documents’ (here), where you can read about how the project is going.
This should give you an insight into how difficult it is to evaluate the success of aid expenditure: just to keep track of the expenditure year on year is an effort given that there are so many different actors involved with spending the aid money – the FCO (previously DFID) works with projects which are already up and running, which can mean working with different partners.
Then you have to evaluated the impact in the context of the problems faced in local conditions – there are all sorts of issues such as conflict and corruption which may mean aid money not being spent as you’d like!
And this is just one project – out of thousands that UK aid money is currently being used to finance!