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Publication - Consultation Responses

Meeting global challenges and making a difference - aligning international development policy with global goals: analysis of responses

Published: 29 Sep 2016
Part of:

Analysis of responses received during consultation on international development policy.

91 page PDF


91 page PDF


Meeting global challenges and making a difference - aligning international development policy with global goals: analysis of responses
4 Criteria for selecting priority countries (Q2)

91 page PDF


4 Criteria for selecting priority countries (Q2)

4.1 The consultation document outlined Scotland's current approach to selecting countries for international development investment based on: (i) the relationship with Scotland, both historical and contemporary (ii) relevant activity and expertise within Scotland and (iii) levels of poverty as defined by the UN Human Development Index ( UNHDI) and measured using life expectancy, educational attainment and income. It was also explained that 'need' was key in selecting countries.

4.2 Views were sought on additional criteria that might be used to select countries:

Question 2: In the context of reducing our geographical focus, which if any, additional criteria could best help us select priority countries? Please use the box to explain which criterion and why

4.3 Respondents answered the question in four main ways:

  • They endorsed the current approach
  • They suggested how the current criteria could be modified or developed in relation to need in particular
  • They put forward additional criteria for selecting priority countries
  • They suggested adopting an alternative approach which did not involve the selection of a set of priority countries.

4.4 Each type of response is discussed in more detail below. It should be noted that the points made by individual respondents often cut across the various themes.

Endorsement of current approach

4.5 Those respondents endorsing the current approach described the current criteria, variously, as 'sufficient', 'effective', 'relevant', 'simple' and 'logical'. Some also argued that it was the combination of the criteria (criteria 1 and 2 in particular) which allowed Scotland to make a distinct contribution and created a 'multiplier' effect. Scotland's work with Malawi was highlighted as evidence of the value of these criteria, with some suggesting this should be the model for other partnerships.

4.6 Respondents elaborated how the first two criteria were useful in guiding the selection of countries. They argued that building on existing inter-country links, and delivering programmes and projects in partnership with locally based organisations provided a strong basis for effective and 'mutually beneficial' work. Moreover this approach also built on commonalities between Scotland and partner countries ( e.g. in issues and interests; in geography and environment).

Modifications to and development of current needs-based criterion

4.7 A common theme in the responses, however, was the need for modification to or development of the current needs-based criterion used by the Scottish Government. Respondents called for: (i) need to be prioritised over other criteria - some argued that need should be the sole criterion for country selection or (ii) a more refined approach to assessing need, using additional or alternative indicators and taking account of inequalities and vulnerable groups.

4.8 Some respondents - mainly NGOs and iNGOs - provided detailed comments about approaches taken by their own organisations to defining need and priority, or referred to research and policy work undertaken by academic institutions, international bodies, etc. In general, such respondents argued for alternative or modified approaches to selecting countries, particularly in relation to how 'need' was assessed, and how the Global Goals might be incorporated into the approach.

4.9 Respondents offered a range of suggestions for specific needs-based criteria, many of which built on the one currently used by the Scottish Government. The suggestions related to issues such as health ( e.g. HIV and TB rates, maternal and child mortality rates, access to mental health services), education (participation and attainment levels), access to water and sanitation, food security and undernutrition. Other respondents called for needs-based criteria which took account of inequality - they argued that many national indicators masked a wide variation in need within countries ( e.g. linked to geography, gender, age or disability), and that taking account of such inequality was in line with the philosophy of the Global Goals.

4.10 Respondents also offered variations on, or refinement to, the current criterion, such as: the number rather than proportion of people living in poverty; HDI combined with GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or GNI (Gross National Income); or a country's share of the global burden with regard to a particular issue.

4.11 Needs-based criteria related to climate change and environmental issues were also proposed, given that they compounded other needs and had a serious impact on a country's development.

4.12 Specific alternative or complementary indicators and measures noted by respondents included: the UN Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index ( IHDI); Multidimensional Poverty Index ( MPI); Global Slavery Index; Least Developed Countries register; Fragile States Index; Climate and Food Security Index.

Additional criteria

4.13 Less frequently, respondents put forward distinct additional criteria. Where they did, the suggestions aligned with the broad themes discussed below.

Programme efficacy and potential for impact and sustainability

4.14 A range of respondents thought Scotland should focus its efforts where it could make the greatest long-term impact. This was seen as particularly important given Scotland's limited international development budget. For some, this was linked to maximising the use of existing knowledge, expertise, and collaborations; others, however, highlighted the importance of considering factors such as 'on the ground' infrastructure, the presence of other relevant organisations and activity, and the receptiveness of local partners. This approach might mean choosing countries which were not necessarily the most needy.

4.15 In relation to efficacy and impact, some respondents suggested that proximity to, and similarities with, other priority countries was a relevant consideration. (This is discussed further in Chapter 5.) They argued that this would facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange, and lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness.

4.16 Respondents also offered two viewpoints on alignment with the work of other international development bodies in selecting priority countries. Some spoke of the importance of avoiding duplication of effort or the opportunities of making a valuable contribution in currently 'neglected' countries. Others, however, argued for the benefits of coordination and collaboration with other bodies in achieving impact.

Governance, human rights and security

4.17 Respondents argued that Scotland should partner with countries that took an 'anti-corruption' stance, and offered good democratic, accountable systems at national and local levels. For some this was a matter of principle; for others this was linked to efficiency and effectiveness. Some respondents also suggested that the priorities and activities of governments in addressing their own development needs should be taken into account.

4.18 Some respondents highlighted the need to take account of human rights issues ( e.g., gender inequalities, the prevalence of modern slavery). It was noted that such issues may not always be priorities for partner country governments.

4.19 Respondents also argued that human factors such as conflict, mass migration and historical exploitation could have an impact on country development and population needs and were thus relevant in determining priority status.

4.20 A few respondents noted that political stability and security for programme and project workers should also be considered.

Evidence of public support and interest

4.21 A few respondents thought that evidence of support and interest in Scotland towards the partner country should be a criterion for investment.

Reservations about a programme based on priority countries

4.22 Some respondents advocated a more fundamental shift away from the current approach. They thought that decision-making on investment should not be based on countries, but on wider considerations related to, for example, the Global Goals or a subset of Global Goals; human rights; or the potential for being a catalyst for change.