DFID renews commitment to building scientific capacity in developing countries

24 January 2013

The Science and Technology Committee has today published a response from the Government and the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences (UKCDS) to the ‘Building scientific capacity for development’ Report produced by the Committee on 26 October 2012.

The Government has renewed its commitment to building scientific capacity in developing countries following a report from the Science and Development Select Committee.

In its response to the Select Committee, published today, the Government says that it agrees that building capacity is an important part of enabling developing countries to self-sustainably drive and shape their own future. The MPs believe the Department for International Development (DFID) has made improvements in using a more robust evidence base and developing its own in-house expertise and has welcomed the Government response to its report.

Chair of the Committee, Andrew Miller MP, said:

"We are delighted that the Department for International Development has agreed with most of our recommendations and will make renewed efforts to build scientific capacity in developing countries.

The importance of scientific institutions and education in equipping a country to develop and grow is sometimes overlooked in development policy."

The Government has committed to improve its communication of the role of science and engineering in achieving development goals where possible. It says it will also work with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) to develop early career awards to complement the existing CSC activities. DFID will also introduce a requirement to include within evaluation reports, details of a dedicated contact point to which concerns about effectiveness can be formally addressed.

Andrew Miller MP, said:

"Our responsibility to the developing world needs is to help build  capacity to enable countries to find their own solutions to their problems and this requires the development of home grown scientists and technology."

DFID will also commission an independent evaluation that compares different approaches to making research available. This will look at a range of programmes and not just those funded by DFID. The evaluation will enable the department to identify where DFID research communication has a comparative advantage and the types of programmes and interventions that represent value for money and best enhance the impact of research.

A previous report by the Science and Technology Committee had criticised the Government for not paying enough attention to building the science base of developing nations.

Image: iStockphoto

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