IDS defends UK research – Letter to The Times

Published on 12 December 2016

IDS has responded robustly to accusations made in The Times newspaper that the UK government pays too much for research and policy support from organisations including our own.

Research for development

The story, which targeted several UK development research organisations, was based on misleading use of figures from DFID reports that it claimed showed that very large sums were being paid for a single briefing or report. IDS provided The Times with a clear written statement that set out how these figures related to months of fieldwork and data analysis undertaken in developing countries across South Asia and Africa. We explained how UK based experts work in close partnership with overseas public officials, charities and community groups to ensure that evidence of what works is applied in a way that achieves real change in health and wellbeing for the people who need it most. Several extracts from this statement were published in the article that appeared on Thursday 8 December. IDS Director, Melissa Leach, also wrote a letter which the Times published providing a vigorous defence of UK research for development.

IDS will continue to work with DFID, the UK media and our partners to engage in this important debate about the effectiveness and value for money of UK aid. The Institute is very proud of the work we do to help support life-saving and cost effective development interventions. The British people are entitled to be better informed about the tremendous difference UK universities, research organisations and think tanks are making to producing scalable solutions and more effective responses to urgent development challenges and humanitarian disasters.

IDS Letter to The Times (published by The Times in print and online Saturday 10 December)

Sir, your article on UK aid spending (8 December) provides an incomplete picture of the important role that research plays in tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges such as poverty, conflict and disease.

A year ago the world marked the end of Ebola in Sierra Leone. British research funded by the UK taxpayer helped bring about the end of this deadly crisis. It saved thousands of lives across West Africa by improving the targeting of humanitarian efforts and it continues to inform national governments, charities and communities on how they can be better prepared for future pandemics.

Research and policy analysis undertaken by academic institutions and universities in the UK are respected worldwide. We should be proud of this scientific contribution to making the world a safer, fairer and more prosperous place.

Professor Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies

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