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UK wasted millions of aid on building African roads that were never finished or doomed to fall into disrepairIn Mozambique, the EU set aside 60million to build a 60-mile stretch of road that was never finishedIn Uganda the EU has now built so many roads that the network is ‘well beyond the size and standard the country can afford to maintain’International Development officials set to investigate the allegations of corruption raised by new report
00:07 GMT, 11 December 2012
Millions of pounds of British aid money has been spent on building roads in Africa that were never finished or which are doomed to fall into disrepair, a report warns today.
A major study of the 1.4billion a year of British taxpayers’ money channelled through the European Union’s aid budget, warns that the Government has little control over how it is spent, despite major concerns about waste, corruption and excessive bureaucracy.
The Independent Commission on Aid Impact gave the EU aid programme an ‘amber-red’ rating on its traffic light system, suggesting it ‘performs poorly’ on value for money and effectiveness, and needs ‘significant improvements’.
In Uganda the EU has now built so many roads that the network is 'well beyond the size and standard the country can afford to maintain'
In a report today it singles out the approach to funding new roads in Africa, which have benefited from hundreds of millions of pounds of aid money.
In Mozambique, the EU set aside 60million to build a 60-mile stretch of road which would provide a missing link between the major port of Quelimane and the Malawian border.
Officials spent two years dithering over the award of the contract, during which time the cost of materials rose by more than 40 per cent. The result of the delay was that the money ran out, halting construction of the road four miles short of the town of Milange on the border with Malawi.
In Uganda the EU has now built so many roads that the network is ‘well beyond the size and standard the country can afford to maintain’.
Today’s report expresses surprise that the EU ‘does not have a specific definition of value for money’, with the result that it does not bother to keep track of the issue.
In Mozambique, the EU set aside 60 million to build a 60-mile stretch of road between the major port of Quelimane and the Malawian border
It also warns that neither the EU, nor the Department for International Development (Dfid) are doing enough to clamp down on corruption.
Researchers visited Mozambique, Uganda and Tajikistan to assess how well the EU spends aid money on our behalf.
In one unnamed country researchers came across numerous allegations that a senior Government official was siphoning off millions of pounds of aid money. ‘We remain concerned that the influence of this individual poses a challenge to the safeguarding of donor funds,’ the report says.
The Department for International Development last night said Secretary Justine Greening shared concerns about the way the EU aid budget is spent
But neither the EU nor Dfid are currently investigating because they have not received a formal complaint.
In a withering assessment, today’s report says: ‘There is no effective performance management system in place for EU aid, which limits Dfid’s oversight.
‘The EU’s performance management and results framework are weak. As a result, Dfid is not getting the assurance it needs and that it achieves elsewhere, for example from the World Bank.
‘Slow decision-making and processes hamper the delivery of results. Limitations to the EU’s risk management approach, as well as over-ambitious project plans, are a significant obstacle to improving the performance of its programmes and projects.’
Dfid last night said International Development Secretary Justine Greening shared concerns about the way the EU aid budget is spent. Officials said they would now investigate the allegations of corruption raised by the report.
In a statement, a spokesman for the department said: ‘We agree that the EU needs to raise its game. That’s why Justine Greening is already pressing EU institutions, MEPs and other member states to improve performance and results. Nothing in the EU happens overnight but we are determined to get better value for money on behalf of the British taxpayer.’
Meanwhile, in a separate report last night the charity War on Want accused ministers of using aid money to support the interests of multinationals rather than meeting the needs of the world’s poor.
It said that support for initiatives in Africa by global food corporations was disadvantaging local farmers and could even lead to increased poverty.
War on Want’s executive director John Hilary said: ‘The expansion of corporate control over farming will increase vulnerability among the world’s poorest communities, deepening poverty and hunger for years to come. Dfid should be using the aid budget to support small-scale farming in Africa, not boosting the profits of big business.’