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IDinsight’s research on dignity informs Parliamentary recommendations on UK’s international aid policy

24 June 2022

A new report by the UK Parliament released this week draws on research by IDinsight.

Tom Wein, IDinsight’s Dignity Initiative Director, presents evidence to the UK House of Commons International Development Committee in November 2021

June 24, 2022 – The UK House of Commons International Development Committee has published a report examining issues of racism in the aid sector, informed in part by testimony from IDinsight’s Tom Wein on the importance of upholding dignity in development assistance. The Members of Parliament (MPs) conclude that the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) “should have a strong research and evidence division that considers processes as well as outcomes; ensuring the UK’s ODA [Official Development Assistance] spend upholds people’s dignity.” The committee highlighted the need for continued reforms across the aid sector to ensure the people it seeks to serve are respected, and to set up the communications and staffing structures to meet this aim. 

Tom Wein, who leads the Dignity initiative at IDinsight, gave evidence to the committee in November 2021. He spoke then about recent research findings on what people facing poverty want from aid, arguing that there are large gaps in impact between the most effective and less effective aid programs. He also recommended that FCDO’s evidence division hold it accountable for the processes its programs use and the outcomes they achieve. Tom said of the recent report, “When people encounter the aid system, as recipients or as team members, we must respect their full, complex humanity. That means abolishing the power asymmetries that hold back development. For that reason, I welcome the Committee’s clear stance on dignity and antiracism in aid.”

Research by Wein and others shows that even when people can access the material aid they need, they frequently come away from the process feeling frustrated and demeaned. IDinsight’s Dignity initiative supports organizations to ensure that people they interact with feel seen and represented, have choices and meaningful chances to consent, and are treated as equals.

In addition to supporting partners, IDinsight has committed to reducing power asymmetries in the social sector starting with itself, as articulated in a recent statement. To this end, IDinsight has set a goal of ensuring that the organization is an accountable and exemplary institution to host the initiative, and that the organization continues to learn and improve in its efforts. Accordingly, IDinsight has been reviewing research protocols to ensure respect for the dignity of survey respondents and surveyors, among a number of other efforts. 

Read more about IDinsight’s Dignity Initiative here.

Access the House of Commons International Development Committee report on “Racism in the aid sector” here.