How DFID funding helps keep thousands of children safe and free from orphanages
Every year, UK taxpayers contribute £15bn (0.7% of Gross National Income) in UK Aid to overseas projects to support sustainable development and reduce global poverty. The Department for International Development (DFID) administers these funds to ensure the money goes to programmes that make a real difference. Now, as the department prepares to merge with the Foreign Office in a controversial move announced by the British Government in June, our Senior Grants Partnership Manager, Anna Makanjuola, looks back at the life-changing impact that UK Aid via DFID has made to the work of Hope and Homes for Children in Africa.
Establishing a network of community hubs to help keep vulnerable families together and children safe from orphanages across Rwanda. Reducing stigma and reforming child care systems in Sudan so that unmarried mothers can keep their babies. Pioneering the closure of orphanages for children with disabilities in Africa by finding the right family-based solution for every child. These are just some of the transformative projects that Hope and Homes for Children and our partners have been able to deliver in recent years, because of UK Aid.
Since 2013, Hope and Homes for Children has successfully applied for a total of £5.1m in UK Aid funding. By providing carefully targeted support to our programmes, DFID has made a profound difference to our work, helping us to protect children from orphanages that threaten their development and life-chances, by ensuring that every child can grow up in a safe and loving family instead.
But DFID does not make taxpayers’ money, through its grants, easy to come by. In order to successfully access, secure and manage UK Aid funding, organisations like ours have to embark on a long, complex, highly technical and rigorous journey.
Project proposals are assessed by experts during a detailed two-stage application process and if successful, a due diligence assessment is carried out before contracts are awarded. Furthermore, during the implementation of UK Aid funded projects, we are contractually bound by stringent reporting and compliance requirements.
“In Sudan, over three years, UK Aid supported a groundbreaking project to reform child protection systems and give thousands of babies at risk of abandonment, the chance to grow up in the love and protection of a family instead of an orphanage”
Right now, through the three-year UK Aid-funded ‘No Child Left Behind’ programme in Rwanda and Uganda, Hope and Homes for Children is working with our partners to keep more than 121,000 children safe from orphanages and pioneer the full inclusion of children with disabilities in child protection reform in Africa. This project has already succeeded in completing the first closure of an orphanage for children with additional needs on the continent, by reuniting every child with their family or building new families through fostering.
In East and southern Africa, UK Aid also funded a three-year project to reduce the number of children living in orphanages and fight child poverty. In Rwanda, this meant we were able to train social workers and other child protection professionals and develop services to support over 32,500 children to remain in or return to family and community-based care. The scheme also empowered us to build the capacity of national partners in Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania to implement and advocate for family strengthening and community-based child protection in their own countries. On completion, this project was rated A++ by DFID’s fund managers MannionDaniels, meaning that it significantly exceeded its expected outcomes.
“These multi-million pound grants have enabled us to significantly scale up our work by helping to develop family-based child-protection and care systems across the East and southern Africa region”
In Sudan, over three years, UK Aid supported a groundbreaking project to reform child protection systems and give thousands of babies, at risk of abandonment, the chance to grow up in the love and protection of a family instead of an orphanage. The project’s external evaluator found that “the childcare reforms have reached every level of society in a notable way, that they have engaged the hearts and minds of government officials responsible for the care of children, have influenced in a profound way the thinking and teaching of the religious authorities who are extremely influential in Sudan and have managed to significantly reduce the stigma associated with unmarried mothers in communities where traditional cultural understandings and practices have been entrenched.”
The extremely competitive nature of DFID funding, coupled with the stringent contractual requirements. has made receiving three consecutive DFID grants especially significant for Hope and Homes for Children. These multi-million pound grants have enabled us to significantly scale up our work by helping to develop family-based child-protection and care systems across the East and southern Africa region, as well as to pilot new and groundbreaking disability inclusion work.
Announcing his decision to merge DFID with the Foreign Office into a single department by September, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, told MPs that the change would mean that aid spending better reflected the UK’s aims and would ensure “maximum value” for taxpayers. But the move has been strongly criticised by senior politicians and charities who fear that the UK risks turning its back on the world’s most vulnerable people and jeopardising the global Coronavirus response when support and international collaboration are most urgently needed.
“We are now urging the Government to make sure that, through the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the UK continues to influence international development in an effective way”
Hope and Homes for Children does not endorse the Government’s decision to merge DFID with the FCO but has welcomed the minister’s commitment to maintaining UK overseas aid spending at 0.7% of Gross National Income. We are now urging the Government to make sure that, through the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the UK continues to influence international development in an effective way.
Mark Waddington CBE, Chief Executive of Hope and Homes for Children, has commented, “We see in our own programmes the essential, life-changing difference UK Aid (DFID) makes to communities, families and children and we call on ministers now to ensure that the progress the UK has made in leading investment to fight global injustices, including the institutionalisation of children, is not lost as a result of this merger.”
As the new, merged department begins its work this is Autumn, it is vital that ministers remain committed to the cross-government statement they made in 2018, recognising the harm inflicted by orphanages and the importance of ensuring family-based care for all children.