Kenyan NGOs fight to stop UK aid cuts

Some face 30 per cent reduction in funding; they have written to Boris johnson

In Summary

• The UK is among the top 10 donors to Kenya, with most of the funds channeled through DFID to implementing partners. 

• A UK government spokesperson said: "Given the expected fall in Gross National Income this year, aid spending is under review across all departments. No decision has been taken. We are considering the full range of our work.”

A young Pokot girl is held by a member of her community as she tries to escape a forced marriage. DFID supports initiatives to end child marriage in Kenya.
A young Pokot girl is held by a member of her community as she tries to escape a forced marriage. DFID supports initiatives to end child marriage in Kenya.
Image: REUTERS/ FILE

NGOs funded by the UK's Department For International Development have written a protest letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him not to abolish the department.

At least 200 groups, many with active projects in Kenya, say the UK is turning its back on the world’s poorest people.

"It also risks us being less able to respond to the great challenges of our time, such as global health security and climate change," the letter, sent late last month, says. 

 

Some of the organisations are Amref Health Africa UK, Friends of Kipkelion, Karuna Trust, Article 19, Concern Worldwide,  and FHI 360.

Dr Faith Mwangi-Powell, CEO of the Girls Not Brides, also signed the letter.  

The UK is among the top 10 donors to Kenya, with most of the funds channeled through DFID to implementing partners. 

DFID spent Sh14.7 billion (£111 million) in Kenya in 2018-19, and Sh13 billion (£98 million) in 2019-20. 

A UK government spokesperson said: “The UK is committed to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on development, which is enshrined in law. This means the aid budget increases when the UK economy grows and decreases if the economy shrinks."

"Given the expected fall in Gross National Income this year, aid spending is under review across all departments. No decision has been taken. We are considering the full range of our work.”

Meanwhile, in other countries, implementing partners have been asked to slash their budgets by as much as 30 per cent, development publication Devex reported. 

The DFID will be abolished in September and its functions assumed by the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 

Last week, UK publication The Independent reported that DfID has “paused” grants as it prepares to slash billions from its budget – before it is abolished altogether in September.

 

The paper said some of the funds will be shifted from fighting poverty to UK's foreign policy struggles such as resisting Russia.

Devex reported that the head of one organisation, which faces losing Sh32.2 million (£250,000) of funding destined for work in Malawi, said: “People will die or be pushed further into extreme poverty because of this.”

No organisation in Kenya has reported cuts in their funding, but this is expected.

Since the UK is committed by law to spend 0.7 per cent of its gross national income on aid, its aid budget has been expected to decline as the economy has shrunk 15 per cent, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the current government has also indicated it will realign its foreign aid to its political ambitions oversees.

“We give 10 times as much aid to Tanzania as we do to the six countries of the western Balkans, who are acutely vulnerable to Russian meddling,” Johnson told MPs late last month.

DFID spends significantly more in Tanzania than in Kenya, having spent Sh20 billion (£153m) there in 2019/2020.

“Given the expected fall in GNI [gross national income] this year, new commitments of aid spending are being reviewed across all departments. No decision has been taken, but we are considering the full range of our work," a DFID spokesman said.

Some of the projects DFID is currently supporting in Kenya are an elections support programme to increase women’s political representation.

It also supports devolution by helping county governments to improve planning and allocation of budgets for different sectors.