The Pakistan floods have all too tragically shown just why aid really does matter. I am extremely proud that the UK led the world in its response to this tragedy, sending thousands of tents, shelter kits, water containers and blankets to address immediate needs. I am proud too that the British public has yet again demonstrated its capacity for generosity.
Humanitarian support, however, is only part of what we do at DFID. Our remit is far wider, and it is a remit about which this Government cares passionately. One of the first things we did upon taking office was commit 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income to overseas aid from 2013 and promise to enshrine this commitment in legislation. We said that we would stick to the internationally agreed definitions of aid and keep aid separate from commercial interests.
In July, we published our Structural Reform Plan outlining the steps we will take to achieve our objectives on international development, making it clear that the emphasis will be on results - about what is being achieved on the ground.
I am acutely conscious that in these difficult economic times we must demonstrate to taxpayers that we are getting value for money and I have launched full-scale reviews of where that money is going and how it is being spent. These reviews will give us evidence from our experience in the field combined with the views of a wide range of people and organisations, which will allow us to make informed decisions about our future funding.
Alongside this focus on results and value for money, I am determined that DFID will become more transparent. I want the British public and people in developing countries to be able to see where money has gone, as well as what it has achieved - this is our UK Aid Transparency Guarantee. We have already established the Pakistan Floods Monitor, so that you can see how UKaid is being spent, and we will be publishing the details of all projects over £500 on our website from next January. At the same time, the new Independent Commission for Aid Impact will assess just how effective our spending has been, and will report directly to Parliament.
We will be equally open about our policy development, and we are currently running open consultations about ways of tackling malaria and maternal, reproductive and newborn health. I hope you will let us know what you think.
This is a vital year for international development with only five years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and the majority of them off-track. I will be urging the world at this month’s United Nations’ MDG Summit to step up a gear and reinvigorate efforts to meet these goals.
We are burning the candle at both ends to make sure British aid is spent effectively in helping the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of poverty. I hope you will be part of the debate and that you will share your views and engage with us over the coming months.