After several delays, the 2016 Bilateral Development Review (BDR) and Multilateral Development Review (MDR) were published by the Government on 1 December 2016, superseding the 2011 Reviews published by the previous Coalition Government. In doing so, the word ‘aid’ in the title of the 2011 Reviews was deliberately replaced by ‘development’.

The 2016 Reviews follow on from the publication in November 2015 of a new aid strategy, UK aid: tackling global challenges in the national interest.

The 2011 Reviews were an important moment in the articulation of the last Government’s aid policy for that Parliament – the moment when overarching principles and approaches were translated into specific country programmes and decisions on whether or not to support particular multilateral organisations over the next five years.

While the 2016 MDR performs a broadly comparable role to that performed by its predecessor, the 2016 BDR does not. Most notably, unlike the 2011 Bilateral Review it contains no information about future funding allocations by country through to 2020/21. Nor does it provide information about agreed results by country over the same period.

The delays in publication and the absence of this data in the BDR mean that a gap in public knowledge of DFID’s planning frameworks has arguably emerged. There have been no updated versions of DFID’s country ‘operational plans’ published since December 2014. It is not clear from the BDR whether these plans will now be updated and if so, when.

This briefing may be updated in future if future developments justify doing so.

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