UNFPA – UK government shamelessly slashes UNFPA funding

On 28 April 2021, UNFPA released the following statement by Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem, which outlines the shameful extent of the UK government’s funding cuts to UNFPA Supplies and their core funding. Dr Kanem’s statement said:

“UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, has been informed that the Government of the United Kingdom intends to implement an approximate 85% cut to UNFPA Supplies, the UNFPA flagship programme for family planning, this year. This means that the expected contribution of £154 million ($211 million) for 2021 now will be reduced to around £23 million ($32 million), a retreat from agreed commitments made to the programme in 2020.

“In addition, £12 million ($17 million) is to be cut from UNFPA’s core operating funds. Several country-level agreements are also likely to be impacted.

“These cuts will be devastating for women and girls and their families across the world. With the now-withdrawn £130 million ($180 million), the UNFPA Supplies Partnership would have helped to prevent around 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions.

“UNFPA recognizes the challenging situation facing many donor governments, yet deeply regrets the decision of our longstanding partner and advocate to step away from its commitments at a time when inequalities are deepening and international solidarity is needed more than ever. The truth is that when funding stops, women and girls suffer, especially the poor, those living in remote, underserved communities and those living through humanitarian crises.

“The needs of women and girls and their right to modern contraceptives have not changed, and UNFPA remains resolute and dedicated to our mandate. We are assessing the full scope and impact of the cuts and are actively formulating mitigation strategies.

“We count on the continued support of the international community and call on all our partners and allies to come together and secure the vitality of UNFPA Supplies and of all our programmes.

“In this Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals, even and especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, we must finish the unfinished business of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and deliver on the promises made to women and girls. They are counting on us.”

SOURCE: UNFPA, 28 April 2021

There has been a lot of media coverage of this news today, including: BBC News and video ; Telegraph ; Devex ; Sky News video tweet and article ; Times Radio ; The Guardian

Statements by UK-based international NGOs, condemning the move, have also been published over the course of the day. The expectation is that there is more such bad news to come.