UK foreign aid cuts: Thousands more women and children will die from preventable causes

Children living in countries like Afghanistan will be placed at further risk, according to the government's 'grim' report. Credit: AP

Many more women and children across the world will die from preventable causes as a result of government aid cuts, according to the government itself.

The cuts are expected to have a "severe" effect on some of the most marginalised people in the world, according to an internal Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) report.

The money being spent on overseas aid was cut as a response to financial pressures during the pandemic and then about a quarter of what was left was diverted to support Ukrainian and Afghan refugees in the UK. Aid spending is expected to rise again next year.

The report was written to advise ministers of the impact of the cuts on equalities and was released to MPs by the Foreign Office in the interest of transparency.

It states quite baldly that "the impact of the ODA (Official Development Assistance) reductions on FCDO programming with a strong focus on fostering equalities is expected to be severe".

Among other places the report details cuts in:


ODA is being cut by 76% in Afghanistan and "reducing funding will potentially leave some of the most vulnerable women and girls in the world without critical services".


Across Africa Womens Sexual Health Programme will be scaled back, leading to an estimated 1,531 more maternal deaths and 185,000 more unsafe abortions.


The report says: "Half a million women and children in Yemen will not receive healthcare and fewer preventable deaths will be avoided."


The FCDO will have to delay and potentially stop altogether its programme targeting female genital mutilation.

Sarah Champion, the Chair of the Commons International Development Committee, said they had known the cuts would take a toll, "but this astonishingly honest assessment of the real impact makes grim reading.

"It is a litany of the people - living in poverty, suffering hunger, women, girls, disabled people - who will no longer be supported by the UK’s direct aid spending, and the consequences they will face."

The development minister, Andrew Mitchell, who released the report, said officials had reduced some of the impact of the cuts by finding underspends in other areas.

He added that next year the aid budget would increase from £7.4 billion to £8.3 billion and that, within this, aid to Africa would more than double.

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