The Department for International Development (DFID) manages the United Kingdom’s aid to poor countries and works to get rid of extreme poverty. DFID supports long-term programmes to help tackle the underlying causes of poverty, and also responds to emergencies, both natural and man-made. DFID is headed by a Cabinet Minister, reflecting the importance that the UK Government sees in reducing poverty around the world.
DFID’s work forms part of a global promise to meet the United Nations’ eight ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs), with a 2015 deadline. Each of these Goals has its own, measurable, targets. DFID works in partnership with governments, civil society, the private sector and others. It also works with multilateral institutions, including the World Bank, United Nations agencies, and the European Commission.
DFID acknowledges that access and availability to water and sanitation are vital to make progress towards meeting all the Millennium Development Goals, and, as part of its contribution, DFID will focus its efforts on understanding the links between water and poverty and supporting efforts by national governments to address the water and sanitation needs of poor communities.
DFID’s new research funding framework recognises that new science, technologies and ideas are crucial for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, but global research investments are insufficient to match needs and do not focus on the priorities of the poor. Many technological and policy innovations require an international scale of research effort.
DFID’s Central Research Department (CRD) commissions research on water for development to help fill this gap, aiming to ensure tangible outcomes on the livelihoods of the poor, and also seek to influence the international and UK research agendas, putting poverty reduction and the needs of the poor at the forefront of global research efforts. The Department manages long-term research initiatives that cut across individual countries or regions, and only funds activities if there are clear opportunities and mechanisms for the research to have a significant impact on poverty.
The research programmes of the UK DFID are procured through international open tendering, with evaluation criteria based upon best value for money, project management, innovation, mechanisms for dissemination and uptake and most importantly – effectiveness in poverty elimination.