MADAR Network+ Statement on ODA cuts

The MADAR Network+ is deeply concerned about the cuts in UK Research and Innovation's budget for ODA funded projects.

March 19, 2021

The MADAR Network+ is deeply concerned about the recent announcement of budget cuts for international research funded through the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the impact that these cuts will have on LMIC countries, on the UK university sector and their contribution to global research, and on the UK as a whole.

On 11th March, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) sent a letter to universities across the UK about savings to ODA-funded projects in LMIC countries. Our funders, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) are significantly affected by the cuts to ODA. Funded through the GCRF, the Maghreb Action on Displacement and Rights (MADAR مدار Arabic for ‘path’) Network Plus aims to improve the humanitarian protection of vulnerable, displaced people in contexts of conflict in the central Maghreb region of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. We have spent the last year working together and building relationships with civil society, research institutions, artists and people affected by displacement in the region to address the challenges of protection in contexts of conflict. These relationships have been built on trust and good faith in a common cause underpinned by the belief in a robust and reliable funding programme with a view to producing crucial and timely work. Our work tackles some of the “transnational challenges” identified in the UK Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (March 2021). MADAR aligns with the objectives of the UK Strategic Framework and the strategic priorities for ODA such as 'Resilience and migration' and the protection of the most vulnerable.

The impacts of this decision are enormous for the UK and all partner organisations in LMIC countries. The UK government’s vision for a Global Britain includes tackling the ‘world’s most pressing challenges in a period of geopolitical change.’ Seeking to make savings at this time risks:

  • irreparable reputational damage to the UK as a leader in research internationally and a global player in contributing to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals across the world;
  • reputational damage to UK HEIs seeking international collaborations;
  • the severe impact on human rights: our work seeks to enhance protection for vulnerable communities affected by conflict;
  • the irreparable impact on the grassroots beneficiaries and institutions in LMIC countries who are part of MADAR;
  • the loss of expertise of a multidisciplinary team and of work carried out across the Central Maghreb which has been underway for over a year;
  • diplomatic impact and loss of soft power: what credibility will the UK have internationally after such large-scale withdrawals of funding already committed?

We urge the UK government to reverse this decision and stand by its commitment to funded GCRF projects, such as MADAR. In so doing it will be standing by its pledge to address global challenges. By failing to do so, it will cause considerable harm to some of the world’s most vulnerable global citizens