About UK Aid Direct

Our impact
  • As of April 2021
    9.5M people supported
  • 196 grants approved
    48 grants active
  • Worked in 38 countries
    Currently active in 22
  • Grants totalling £79,224,338

UK Aid Direct is a £150 million programme which has changed the lives of over *9.5 million of the world’s poorest people with UK aid from the UK Government.

Funded by the former Department for International Development (DFID), now Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), UK Aid Direct supports small and medium sized civil society organisations (CSOs), based in the UK and overseas, to achieve sustained poverty reduction and to achieve the United Nations’ Global Goals (opens in a new window).

Formerly known as the Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF), the fund was relaunched in 2014 as UK Aid Direct. As a flexible fund, UK Aid Direct is adaptive and demand-led, responding to UK government priorities (opens in a new window).

*Data accurate as of April 2021.

Civil society organisations

Civil society organisations (CSOs) with their grassroots networks and local knowledge are well placed to reach marginalised communities and are key partners in helping further the UK government’s commitment to leave no one behind in pursuit of the Global Goals (opens in a new window)

By working closely with communities, beneficiaries and local institutions, CSOs have high levels of accountability, meaning they can effectively respond to people’s needs.

Strong CSOs enhance transparency and support effective governance, through their contributions to the public debate and their ability to encourage open and diverse cooperation between citizens, authorities, states and the private sector.

Where we work

UK Aid Direct supports CSOs working in UK government priority countries and the 50 lowest countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) where support for achieving the Global Goals is most needed.

An interactive globe is located on our where we work page featuring our UK Aid Direct grant holders and projects.

Our priorities

The priorities of UK Aid Direct reflect wider strategic objectives:

  • Strengthening global peace, security and governance
  • Strengthening resilience and response to crisis
  • Promoting global prosperity
  • Tackling extreme poverty and helping the world’s most vulnerable
  • Delivering value for money.

Our impact
  • As of April 2021
    9.5M people supported
  • 196 grants approved
    48 grants active
  • Worked in 38 countries
    Currently active in 22
  • Grants totalling £79,224,338

Our approaches.


UK Aid Direct aims to promote greater accountability by strengthening the ability of civil society to hold policymakers and duty bearers to account and defend fundamental human rights.

UK Aid Direct grant holders advocate at the local, national and international levels on topics like ending modern day slavery, disability inclusion and conflict prevention.

As an example, projects have built the capacity of community-based organisations to monitor and prevent identity-based violence in Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya, working in partnership with local authorities to sustain changes.

Basic services

The Global Goals have set out the urgency to improve basic services, like education, sanitation and affordable energy.

Many UK Aid Direct grant holders work to improve the supply of services, and work to build the systems around basic services to improve quality and provision. For example, by training health workers and teachers, providing technology and solar panels in schools, and offering health care such as maternal and neonatal care and cancer support.

Conflict resilience and prevention

In line with Global Goal 16, UK Aid Direct seeks to promote peaceful and resilient societies, with grant holders operating in some of the world’s most fragile states.

Many grant holders work to reduce the risks of identity-based violence (IBV). Civil society and government officials are trained in IBV recognition and prevention, conflict management mechanisms are established to resolve local tensions, and communities are supported to become more stable and resilient to shocks creating improved conditions for long-term development and poverty-reduction.

Economic empowerment

Economic growth should benefit all, creating decent jobs without modern slavery or child labour.

UK Aid Direct contributes to Global Goal 8 by funding organisations looking to increase and diversify income for poor communities in developing countries, as well as advocating for free and fair work conditions.

Many UK Aid Direct grant holders focus on improving economic prospects for specific disadvantaged groups, like pastoral communities, farmers, women and those living with a disability.

Gender equality

Girls and women across the world are held back by systemic and entrenched inequality and discrimination and the effects of gender inequality are widespread.

UK Aid Direct funds organisations working to achieve social and economic equality in line with Global Goal 5 (opens in a new window), which has a focus on prioritising the rights of women and girls.

Some examples of the work funded by UK Aid Direct include raising awareness of sexual and reproductive health and rights topics like menstruation and female genital mutilation, fighting violence against women, and providing maternal health services.

Positive behaviour change

Through training targeted groups like teachers and parents, UK Aid Direct grant holders seek to raise awareness and support positive and sustained norm change around key issues. These notably include developing positive maternal and child health practices, raising awareness of menstruation in schools to prevent girls’ absenteeism, and encouraging responsible waste disposal.

Youth as advocates for change

FCDO recognise that young people have the potential to lead social change. UK Aid Direct projects train and empower local youth to help communities, for example to promote community integrity and tackle corruption, as well as promote social and economic entrepreneurship.

Our theory of change

UK Aid Direct works to reduce poverty in target countries by supporting civil society to improve contributions and mechanisms for sustained poverty reduction in marginalised and vulnerable communities.

Download our full theory of change diagram (PDF) 4KB