“Racism in UK humanitarian aid and development is a serious and ongoing problem”

The International Development Committee (IDC) has today published their extensive report, Racism in the UK Aid Sector, which finds that racism continues to exist, and that the UK sector still reflects the power relationships of colonialism – with decisions on life-saving programmes and funding made by high-income countries.

According to the report, the recent cuts to the UK aid budget – from 0.7% of GNI to 0.5% – took place with little or no consultation with partners in low and middle-income countries, which sent “a harmful message that the UK does not care about the people affected – many of whom are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.”

It recommends urgent action from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as well as UK NGOs to address this problem. It comes just over a year after the government’s controversial Race and Ethnic Disparities report, which was widely discredited for claiming there was no evidence to suggest Britain was institutionally racist.

Lena Bheeroo, Engagement and Equity Manager at Bond, said in response to the IDC report:
“Racism in the UK humanitarian and development sector is a serious and ongoing problem that must be addressed urgently. This report is a significant step in the right direction as it shines a light on the sector’s colonial legacy and power imbalances that allow decision-making to stay in the hands of high-income nations.

“The UK aid cuts were a stark example of the UK’s disproportionate power, as partners in low- and middle-income countries – most of whom are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour – were not involved in processes that affected their future.
“More needs to be done to address how racism manifests and persists and we are working with UK NGOs on how to do this. Power needs to be rebalanced with the communities we work with, and we agree with the findings that the FCDO needs to be more actively engaged with conversations on decolonising development systemically.”