Global aid budget cuts risk future of international development charities

A recent Small International Development Charities Network survey shows that despite nearly three quarters of small international development charities seeing demand for their services increase, funding opportunities are rapidly disappearing. The recent announcement to merge DFID and FCO was a blow to these important charities, and the hundreds of thousands of people they serve. The future of small international development charities became all the more uncertain when, on the last day of Parliament before recess, Dominic Raab announced a £2.9 billion cut to the UK’s global aid budget.

Without additional funding, 45% of small charities working in international development will close within the next 12 months. This is because UK charities working overseas were not eligible to apply for the UK Government Coronavirus Community Support Fund, many UK funders have amended their giving criteria to only support UK-based projects and the Department for International Development (DFID) has ‘paused’ grants leaving charities and projects in limbo.

Charities like Carers Worldwide, which supports carers in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, have seen demand for their services skyrocket over the last few months. The charity’s COVID-19 response, including provision of sanitation packs, food parcels and PPE, has supported 47,601 people across the region. “The biggest impact of reduced funding will be on our beneficiaries.” says Ruth, Operations Manager of Carers Worldwide.

Similarly, Kids Club Kampala, a charity which supports vulnerable children in slums across the city of Kampala, quickly converted its community classrooms into food banks. They were initially expecting to feed 1,000 families, but have so far fed 27,821 households with over 600,000 food parcels. This number is expected to grow, as Kids Club Kampala have been asked by the Government of Uganda to further expand services to meet growing need.

Many small charities delivering services overseas are struggling to survive with no dedicated support from the Government. East African Playgrounds is a charity which has built over 350 playgrounds, bringing safe play and improved education for over half a million children. Murielle, CEO of East African Playgrounds, states that the charity has seen “95% of its funding disappear overnight”. The future of these small charities looks bleak, as doors continue to close from all angles.

Small UK charities working overseas are a forgotten group. They are supporting some of the world’s poorest communities during this crisis, and will be needed well beyond to aid recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. These charities need funding as a matter of urgency – so that vulnerable communities are not left behind.