This month we welcomed the publication of the UK's new White Paper on International Development, potentially the most ambitious reform of the way British aid is designed and delivered since 1997.
In previous updates we outlined how Alert has been calling for a fundamental reform of the way the UK delivers overseas aid to conflict affected countries and this White Paper, while not going as far as we would have liked, does offer a huge opportunity to harness the potential of UK aid to build peace. See our submission here.
In addition to the Government White Paper the official Opposition, the Conservative Party, published their own plans in the form of a consultation document. They too recognised the specific needs of conflict affected states and called for far reaching changes to the way our assistance to these areas is designed and delivered to get the best possible results.
It is great news that politicians across the party divide have now recognised that we cannot continue with the current means of delivering aid to those areas affected by violence.
As our Secretary General Dan Smith said at the time of the White Paper's launch:
"UK aid has not been effective enough in too many conflict-affected states for too long. A technical one-size-fits-all approach that does not specifically act in the interests of marginalised communities in what can be highly undemocratic cultures of power limits the impact of our money and in some cases can actually do harm."
The challenge for peacebuilders now is to maintain this momentum for change up to and beyond the forthcoming General Election which will decide the next government of the United Kingdom, in order to make absolutely sure that we bring about the reforms in the way the UK designs and delivers aid that people living in conflict affected regions urgently need.
With that goal in mind Alert has organised a series of meetings, in partnership with the Foreign Policy Centre and the BBC World Service Trust, at each of the party political conferences this year. These conferences will be the last major gatherings of the mainstream political parties before that crucial election. And we'll be lobbying Members of Parliament, Ministers and those hoping to become Ministers about what needs to be done before and after the election to turn what we think is the biggest opportunity to increase our collective impact on building peace in a generation into reality.
These are exciting times. We'll keep you posted.