International development: funding schemes - letter from Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development

Letter from the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, Neil Gray MSP, to the Convenor for the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, Clare Adamson MSP.

Dear Convenor,

Scottish Government –international development – funding schemes

With reference to the Committee’s recent report of your inquiry into the Scottish Government’s international work, in his letter to the Committee of 6 June, Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson has provided a written response to the issues raised therein.

That written response provided information on a range of questions and matters raised by the Committee, including in relation to the Scottish Government’s international development workIn relation to the Committee’s interest in our funding schemes under our International Development Fund (“IDF”), the Cabinet Secretary had indicated in his letter that we would provide that information separately. This letter therefore responds specifically to the Committee’s particular interest in understanding the breakdown between, and rationale for, current international development grants as between competitive and non-competitive grants. In that regard, I have broken down our grants as falling into 4 broad categories:

1. Competitively awarded grants (c58% in financial year 2021-22)

2. Non-competitively awarded grants – core funding to networking organisations

3. Non-competitively awarded grants to public institutions/match funding

4. Non-competitively awarded grants (Covid specific)

Competitively awarded grants

As set out to members in the recent Parliamentary debate on this topic, the large part of our IDF funding has continued to be awarded competitively.

(a) directly run funding rounds awards

At present, for example, as the Cabinet Secretary explained in his letter, even as we are programming for 2023+, we have continued to support so far as possible through the pandemic our three African country development programmes in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda to their planned conclusion. All of these cohorts of projects were awarded competitively, the Rwanda and Zambia projects in 2017 and our Malawi projects in 2018. All are now running until 2023.

(b) joint programming/pooled funding awards

We also have an ongoing co-funding arrangement with Comic Relief as another donor, providing pooled funding for our joint Levelling the Field 2 programme. We have worked collaboratively with Comic Relief since 2012 on a series of programmes, with our joint funding arrangement providing a leverage of our own contribution. We set out pooled funding approaches with other donors in our 2016 Strategy, as one of our ongoing ways of working.

The focus of our joint funding in Levelling the Field II (2021-24) has been using Sport for Change approaches to fund small civil society organisations (CSOs) in-country to: ensure women and girls and safe, equal and respected; and promote women and girls’ decision-making power and inclusion. As part of our co-funding agreement, Comic Relief run the competitive funding rounds for Levelling the Field 2, with local CSOs in our 3 African partner countries invited to apply directly through this competitive process for small project grants.

Last year (financial year 2021-22), our spend on our above Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda programmes totalled £5,187,905. Our contribution to our Levelling the Field 2 Women’s Empowerment Programme via Comic Relief was £591,667. Therefore total funding of £5,779,572 was awarded competitively to a range of organisations for projects in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda (just under 58% of our total IDF). It should be noted that this percentage is smaller than normal, due to the Covid impact on our programme since March 2020, and in previous years would have been around 65%. Funds released due to Covid were re-allocated, as set out below (at 4. non-competitively awarded grants (Covid-specific)).

Non-competitively awarded grants – core funding to networking organisations

As I had set out in my letter of 2 March to the Committee, supporting global citizenship in Scotland has remained a key focus for our programme.

Therefore, in financial year 2021-22, we provided core funding to: Scotland’s International Development Alliance; the Scotland Malawi Partnership and its sister organisation the Malawi Scotland Partnership; the Scottish Fair Trade Forum; and we also co-fund with Education the Development Education Centres (DECs) in Scotland. The total core funding represents 8% of our £10m IDF, allocated annually in core funding to a range of civil society networking bodies to support global citizenship/grass roots organisations in Scotland.

These networking organisations have been funded to date on a non-competitive basis, as a legacy of initial funding arrangements from 2005 onwards. This is a historic arrangement.

Non-competitively awarded grants: public institutions/match funding (legacy)

Two further key areas where, over the last 6 years, we have also continued to award funding from the IDF on a non-competitive basis in line with our 2016 Strategy, are: 

  1. Public institutions: there are some specific public institutions where we have a direct partnership, for example:
  • Police Scotland’s peer-peer partnership since 2016 with the Police Forces of Malawi and Zambia on gender based violence training
  • the British Council Pakistan, which delivers our £400,000 pa Pakistan Women and Girls’ Scholarships Programme
  • a more recent health twinning partnership which we are supporting as a pilot between two health authorities (NHS Lanarkshire/Health Authorities in Central Province, Zambia)

We also have a project with Beyond Borders, a Scottish based NGO which has a unique skillset in delivering a UN Security Council Resolution 1325 Fellowships Programme.

All of the above received IDF funding in financial year 2021-22 on a non-competitive basis, in light of each of their specific expertise.

  1. where match-funding has been offered to leverage our own financial contribution, in line with our stated policy on this in our 2016 Strategy: a key example here is the match funding arrangement to support our Malawi Investment Initiative, through the African Lakes Company (ALC), which was established for this purpose: a condition of our investment through ALC is of match funding, with this achieved to date through private investors, therefore doubling our own investment funding in Malawi.

Non-competitively awarded grants (Covid specific)

Finally, due to the Covid outbreak and need to support our partner countries quickly and effectively we awarded two strategic grant agreements in financial year 2021-22:

  • oxygen concentrators/ventilators/PPE: we secured donations of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to our 3 African partner countries, followed by £11m worth of PPE. Our IDF funding to KidsOR, awarded non-competitively, recognised their particular expertise in transporting medical equipment to Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda, enabling us to supply during July-September 2021: 300 Oxygen concentrators (with packaging/transport); the freighting/transportation of 41 ventilators; and £250,000 from the IDF enabled the donation of £11m worth of PPE equipment (25 shipping containers) to Malawi/Rwanda/Zambia through the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme. In terms of our 2016 Strategy policy statement on match funding, KidsOR also raised a further £1m to support transport of the PPE from the Wood Foundation, Pula Limited, Postcode Trust and Delta Philanthropies. Further, in each case, KidsOR also contributed their staffing resource to enable this large-scale donation from Scotland of O2 concentrators/ventilators/PPE needed for our partner countries’ Covid responses
  • supporting our partner country governments’ vaccine programmes: in 2021-22, we provided £1.5m to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics in our 3 African partner countries directly to the UN mandated organisation with the most operational capacity to deliver vaccination programmes – the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). UNICEF regularly receive direct financing from donors, rather than compete, due to their status as a UN agency and large operational capacity in all developing countries. UNICEF was chosen and awarded funding on a non-competitive basis due to their being a trusted multinational organisation, and the organisation which was already the delivery partner in our partner country governments’ national vaccine programmes. This funding reflected our commitment to partner country-led funding, supporting their asks, and contributing to their needs on vaccine equity. Details of that spend to support the COVID-19 vaccine programmes in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda were set out publicly here: Supporting access to COVID-19 vaccines in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia

I hope that the Committee finds this further information on IDF funding helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Gray


T: 0300 244 4000


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