The United Kingdom said Thursday it is temporarily reducing its international aid from 14.5 billion pounds (about USD 20 billion) last year to 10 billion pounds this year (USD 14 billion) because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and two UN agencies announced huge funding cuts of more than 80 percent.
The UN Population Fund, which now calls itself the UN's sexual and reproductive health agency, said it had been informed that its flagship family planning programme was being cut from 154 million pounds (USD 211 million) to around 23 million pounds (USD 32 million). In addition, it said 12 million pounds (USD 17 million) is being cut from its core operating funds.
The agency, known as UNFPA, said the UK was its largest bilateral donor in 2020, providing a total of about USD 138 million.
UNAIDS, which unites the work of 11 UN organisations trying to reduce HIV infections and deaths to zero, said its funding for 2021 was reduced from 15 million pounds (USD 21 million) in 2020 to 2.5 million pounds (USD 3.5 million) for 2021.
In 2020, the UK was the world's third largest aid donor, spending 14.5 billion pounds (about USD 20 billion).
The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on aid, a British government spokesman said, speaking with customary anonymity.
We will still spend more than 10 billion pounds (USD 14 billion) this year to fight poverty, tackle climate change and improve global health, the spokesman said. We are working with suppliers and partners on what this means for individual programmes.