The DFID consortium in the Central African Republic

In 2014 the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) brought together a consortium of leading aid agencies in the Central African Republic (CAR) to tackle malaria. In 2016, the consortium, which includes Oxfam, The Mentor Initiative, Cordaid and International Medical Corps UK, began a second two-year project to tackle the largest killer in the troubled African nation.

CAR is considered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to be the second least developed place on earth. After years of conflict and political uncertainty, a complex web of interlocking issues has left an estimated 390,000 internally displaced and a further 2.3 million people need aid according to The Mentor Initiative.

Funded by the UK government, the consortium brings together experts in areas of secondary health provision, primary healthcare, water and sanitation and emergency relief not only to share their knowledge but to work together to develop best practice and standardisation in their approach to tackle malaria in the country. All the agencies involved have extensive experience of working in the region and cover a vast area between them.

MENTOR community workers running mobile clinics in CAR from their bicycles in forest areas.

“When you get people around the table, there are a lot of benefits to the people we serve when we can standardise and harmonise our approach,” says Richard Allan, CEO of The Mentor Initiative. “When you have the right agencies with the right skill sets then the quality of planning on the ground improves.” The benefits are far reaching; primary health care workers can gain a broader range of skills, prevention methods can go hand in hand with improved sanitation and standards are being raised across the board.  

The economic benefits are clear too. With greater collaboration comes greater efficiencies in areas such as practical procurement and shipping supplies. At a time when international aid budgets are under greater scrutiny than ever before, the consortium offers a financially astute proposition and additional levels of accountability.

Around 438,000 people are already served by the consortium in some of the country’s hardest to reach places. It is important to note that whilst the consortium is responding to emergency needs, it’s doing so in a way that lays a springboard for development. The agencies involved aren’t merely working to avert a crisis; they are working alongside the ministry of health in CAR to develop local health provision and robust infrastructure – not just for malaria provision, but for the diagnosis and management of a wide range of diseases.

“Malaria is the pathfinder to improve the overall capacity for prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” continues Mr Allan. “If we get this right, we can reduce the burden for a whole range of diseases.”

Collaboration within development certainly isn’t new, but if the next two years in CAR go as planned, we could see the consortium-style approach to public health management in developing countries become increasingly common.

The DFID consortium