By Civil Service World

30 Dec 2014

Mark Lowcock

Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development  

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2014?

The past year has seen an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises. In 30 years of working on humanitarian emergencies, I can’t remember a time that quite matches what we’re facing today. Conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa require our immediate support – as when the 12,000 Yazidis were trapped on Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq and the UK took a leading role in the response, with airdrops providing life-saving supplies. The recent Gaza conflict and the situation in Syria have put millions of civilians in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. And the UK’s on-going work in these places is now happening alongside our efforts to fight ebola in West Africa. DfID is coordinating the overall crisis response and has already committed £230m to help contain, control and defeat the disease in Sierra Leone. As new emergencies arise, our commitments elsewhere do not become less important, and I am extremely proud of the way that staff across the department are working together to manage multiple demands. 

What are your department’s top priorities in the last months before the general election?

As well as playing a leading role in responding to humanitarian emergencies, DfID remains dedicated to its departmental priorities of supporting women and girls, driving economic development and looking ahead to the post-2015 framework which will guide the future of international development following the Millennium Development Goals. We will also continue to work ensure the department is operating in the most effective way. The One HMG Overseas programme, an initiative linking up the services of government departments working abroad, will be fully implemented by April 2015. Departments will join up across areas of shared responsibility and need, making it easier for HMG staff to work together to deliver the UK’s international objectives.  

What’s your favourite Christmas treat? And what makes you say: ‘Bah, humbug!’?

My favourite Christmas treat will be for Man United to put four past Newcastle on Boxing Day. I would say ‘Bah humbug’ if the opposite happened!

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