The United Kingdom is said to be considering major cuts in aid facilities to at least eight countries, including Nigeria.
Open Democracy, an international media organisation, in a report published on Friday, disclosed the UK’s decision as seen in leaked emails from the accounts of government officials.
The cuts were reportedly “discussed by senior officials at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in February”.
The report notes that Nigeria is set to see a 58 percent cut in aid from the UK; Libya could be affected by 63 percent between 2021 and 2022; aid to Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could drop by around 60 percent; that of Sudan will decrease from £110 million to £45 million, while the Western Balkans will see a possible decline by 50 percent.
“British spending in the Sahel region of Africa could also drop by more than 90%, from £340m to £23m. Aid to Lebanon could fall by 88%, although some of this shortfall will be covered by a rise in assistance from other government budgets,” the report reads.
Although it is not yet clear which sectors would be affected in particular, the reported aid cut to Nigeria comes nine months after the UK pledged £20 million to the African Union to help in the fight against COVID-19.
While announcing the funding in May 2020, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, UK’s international development secretary, said the contribution “will provide important additional support to Nigeria and other countries across Africa and is testament to the fact that the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria in our collective challenge to defeat this terrible virus”.
Meanwhile, TheCable understands that the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria (FOSTER), which supported reform in the petroleum industry, is to be abruptly ended with effect from March 31.
The project was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and managed by the Oxford Policy Management (OPM).
In a letter dated December 2, 2020, and addressed to Sarah Champion, chair of the International Development Committee, House of Commons, Dominic Raab, UK foreign secretary, had expressed regret that the figure would change from 2021, but that it would maintain the 0.7 percent on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget for 2020.
“This decision has been taken with real regret. The global pandemic has forced us to reduce our budget. However, our commitment to be a world-leading donor does not change. We will spend 0.7 per cent this year and it is our intention to return to this when the fiscal situation allows,” Raab wrote.
“Despite next year’s adjustment, and using the latest official figures from the OECD (from 2019), the UK will likely be the second most generous ODA spending country in the G7 as a percentage of our national income ( GNI) in 2021.”
The foreign secretary had also said the ODA would focus its spending on “countries where the UK’s development, security and economic interests align, such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Indo-Pacific region”.