By Emma Batha
LONDON, March 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain is to launch a fund to help small charities scale up their work with some of the world's most vulnerable communities, the minister for international development announced on Monday.
"Britain boasts an extraordinary number of small, grassroots charities who do amazing, often highly innovative work in the world's poorest places," Priti Patel told the Bond International Development Conference in London.
"I believe this fund will help the best of our smaller charities to expand and deliver even more effectively for the world's poorest."
The Department for International Development (DFID), which will launch the Small Charities Challenge Fund in the summer, could not yet say how much it would be worth. Funding will be available to charities with an annual income of under 250,000 pounds ($310,000).
Patel said small organisations often had some of the most direct connections with the people the British government was trying to help, and she praised their efficacy in tailoring their work to people's everyday needs.
"I believe that smaller charities are a crucial part of the Great British offer on international development," she added.
Patel cited the example of Exeter Ethiopia Link which helps thousands of children with disabilities attend school in Ethiopia, and LAMB Health Care Foundation which improves access to reproductive health services for adolescents in Bangladesh.
Emma Crump of Dhaka Ahsania Mission UK, which supports projects in Bangladesh, said small charities often struggled to access funding despite carrying out vital frontline work; a dedicated fund would help them expand and carry out long-term initiatives.
"Small NGOs often have a greater degree of adaptability and specialist knowledge that is directly informed from the communities they work closely with," she said.
Patel told the conference DFID's priorities included responding to a hunger crisis threatening more than 20 million people in Yemen, northeast Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.
She said DFID would also boost its support to people with disabilities, that she described as "shamefully the most under-prioritised, under-resourced area in development", and it would continue to put girls and women "at the heart" of its work.
Britain will host an international summit in the summer on family planning services, with a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable girls and women, she added. (Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)