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Friday 23 July 2021

"The last six weeks have really highlighted the diversity of the FDA's work"

By Dev Bahra

As he comes to the end of his internship with us, Dev Bahra reflects on his experiences and offers some insights into the project he has been leading

Dev Bahra 250
The last six weeks have gone by so quickly, but as I come towards the end of my internship at the FDA, I have been able to experience the many ways in which trade unions create and maintain impact not just for members, but for wider society. I have been working on a project that explores what the future of international development will look like. This project came at a pivotal time in the wider political space, one year on from the merger of the FCO and DFID to become the FCDO and at a time of huge debate about the cut to the aid budget. 

We’ll be launching the full report in the autumn, but some of the main themes it will explore include the  impact of the merger on the civil service and how the priorities of the new department have shifted – many of those who contributed to our survey of members suggested that they felt former FCO policy areas were being emphasised over development. The report will also explore how models and frameworks for conducting international development have to be revised for our current circumstances and to ensure that true development actually occurs. Finally, we discuss how the pandemic and climate change have begun to undo decades of developments initiatives.

During the research process I have had the chance to contact politicians, NGOs and academics, interviewing them to explore consequences of the merger, and the overall future of the sector. It has been an incredible opportunity to directly interview experts across international development, with a wide range of perspectives on the matter. As well as this I have also been able to investigate how FDA members are being impacted by the merger by creating a survey and analysing the results. This has been a great experience in understanding the key issues that FDA members face on a day-to-day basis. I’ve also been planning our launch event in the autumn – so stay tuned for the details of that in the weeks ahead.

My experience with the FDA has been incredibly interesting and insightful in so many ways, and I’m very grateful to have been able to lead on this project which will hopefully contribute to the wider discussion on the future of international development. I am also sure that the interview skills I’ve developed will serve me well in my future career, and I have also increased my confidence in dealing with high profile, senior figures. Working on effective member engagement strategies has also been a challenging but interesting experience, ensuring that our report actively addresses the key challenges that FDA members face on a daily basis. Taking the time to speak with FDA national officers and external organisations has helped broaden my understanding of effective engagement and will no doubt be useful in my future career. 

Being the FDA’s first ever intern has been eye-opening and has challenged many assumptions I had before I started. The last six weeks have really highlighted to me the diversity of the union’s work and the real influence the FDA can have standing up for its members.

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