“Securitized” UK aid projects in Africa: Evidence from Kenya, Nigeria and South Sudan

Ivica Petrikova, Melita Lazell

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MotivationThe UK has recently merged the Department for International Development (DFID) with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). This policy move strengthens the securitisation of development trend, which sees the provision of aid motivated by national security concerns.
PurposeMany researchers have raised concerns about aid securitisation and its consequences for development; however, little research has actually examined the impact of securitised aid on recipient countries.
Approach and methodsThis study does so, by evaluating 144 securitised aid projects implemented by DFID between 2000 and 2018 in three African countries – Kenya, South Sudan, and Nigeria, using the OECD evaluation criteria of relevance, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability.
FindingsOur analysis finds that whilst most of the projects assessed were ‘relevant’, i.e. aligned with recipient and funders’ objectives on paper, many struggled to achieve their intended outputs (‘effectiveness’). Few of the projects had a positive impact. We conclude that the ‘securitised’ projects reviewed did not significantly strengthen the recipient countries’ institutions, stability, or security but had some negative side effects.
Policy implicationsGiven the recent merger of DFID with the FCO and the decision to reduce aid to 0.5% of GDP, the UK is likely to draw an even closer connection between domestic security priorities and development aid provision. In view of our empirical findings, it must be more cognisant of the limitations of development interventions undertaken in the name of security and consider other means of enabling development.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12551
JournalDevelopment Policy Review
Issue number1
Early online date17 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

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