International Development Committee praises BRAC’s partnership with DFID

International Development Committee praises BRAC’s partnership with DFID

The International Development Committee (IDC), the parliamentary body that monitors the policy, administration and spending of the Department for International Development (DFID), has released it’s report on the UK’s contribution to development in Bangladesh, Myanmar and the Rohinya Crisis. The report sought to review the performance of UK Aid contributions in Bangladesh and Myanmar and make recommendations for DFID to further improve the value for money provided to the UK tax payer by development investments in Bangladesh, Myanmar and the Rohingya Crisis. Earlier this year BRAC’s Senior Director of Communication, Strategy and Empowerment, Asif Saleh, gave evidence in person to the committee. BRAC also submitted written evidence to help the committee with their inquiry.

The report made a number of recommendations, including changes to UK development policy in Myanmar to reassure tax payers that ‘their money isn’t being used to prop up a government accused of crimes against humanity’, continued investment in humanitarian aid for the Rohingya Community, and to learn from the success of BRAC’s Strategic Partnership Arrangement (SPA) with DFID and the Australian Government’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

We’re delighted to say that the report is very complimentary of BRAC.  We will be working with the Committee and DFID to ensure that lessons learned from the Strategic Partnership Arrangement are collated and shared more widely within DFID and the development community so more can learn about this highly innovate approach to achieving outstanding development outcomes.

We have taken all the quotes mentioning BRAC and placed them in this article for your convenience:

Document Summary (Page 4)

“DFID works alongside many partners, both international and local, but perhaps head and shoulders above the rest is BRAC, Bangladesh’s homegrown development facility, now the biggest NGO in the world. The strategic partnership between DFID and BRAC, now into its second 5-year tranche, should be studied and its lessons and virtues replicated where appropriate.”

‘Civic space’, open debate (Page 49)

“Our evidence suggested that Bangladesh’s relatively open ‘civic’ space had played a major role in its successful economic growth and development. Evidence from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) said that the freedom and confidence for DFID and Bangladeshi NGOs, such as BRAC, to form “enduring and innovative partnerships” had contributed to relatively equitable and inclusive development over time.”

BRAC (Pages 54 and 55)

“A unique feature of DFID’s work in Bangladesh is its strategic partnership with BRAC, the giant home-grown, now global, NGO. Since 2011, DFID has been in a Strategic Partnership Arrangement (SPA) with BRAC. This is a flexible funding agreement in which BRAC receives a sizeable, multi-annual allocation of ODA to deliver a defined set of agreed development objectives covering a wide range, if not all, of DFID’s strategic objectives for its work in Bangladesh. The original SPA concluded in 2016 and SPA II has been agreed to be concluded in 2021. BRAC itself states that the SPA arrangement “gives BRAC the flexibility and funding security to innovate and implement extremely effective programmes that have achieved transformative results in Bangladesh. SPA II is funded by £224.5 million between 2016 and 2021. Looked at on an annual basis, that amounts to virtually £45 million, getting on for a third DFID’s annual budget for development aid for Bangladesh (setting aside the recent allocations for the Rohingya).

BRAC has developed from the ‘Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee’ to be No. 1 NGO in the world, and almost, an experiment in government – or at least key public service provider – as a non-partisan, meritocratic, social enterprise. We visited a number of BRAC projects, and met a great number of BRAC personnel and were impressed. One such, was a small community early years school. We consulted the parents and there was very vocal support for the institution which they wanted to ‘grow’ up with the children and not have to use the ‘government school’.

BRAC seems to have avoided the sort of partisan contamination, or political polarisation, that our witnesses alerted us to. Equally, BRAC seems to be handling, or working around, the shrinkage of the public, democratic and/or civil society ‘space’ (of course it is possible that BRAC eschewed this space in the first place). Whatever BRAC is doing, or not doing, in the background to reach and surpass its objectives while seeming to steer clear of political interference and the other challenges we have identified above, DFID should take note and put in place a process to capture, and consider, the lessons that can be learned.”

 Conclusions – Bangladesh (Page 58)

“Whatever BRAC is doing, or not doing, in the background to reach and surpass its objectives while seeming to steer clear of political interference and the other challenges we have identified above, DFID should take note and put in place a process to capture, and consider, the lessons that can be learned.”

“Overall, we conclude that DFID’s work in Bangladesh is to be highly commended. The country is on a welcome overall trajectory and the UK as a longstanding ally, critical friend and partner has made a clear contribution to this direction of travel. DFID appears to have programmes and partners in place with the potential to demonstrate where and how the fault-lines and weaknesses within that positive picture might be mitigated. This is particularly important in view of the Sustainable Development Goals’ emphasis on ‘leaving no-one behind’ which points to a focus on extreme poverty, women and girls and disabled people in Bangladesh.”

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