I AM glad that the Prime Minister used the opportunity of her visit to Africa last week to focus on our international aid to that continent.

One measure of a more effective international development policy would be to establish it as source of pride, rather than one of complaint from taxpayers. Foreign aid, remains high on the list of a litany of grievances that separate many voters from politicians and undermine faith in representative democracy.

My experience as a minister was that we never really made the case for international development as an important vehicle with which to project our power in pursuit of our vital national interests.

So often we took the line of least resistance, accepting that the public generally disapprove of foreign aid, and so refraining from rubbing their noses in it by trying to tell them more about it.

Even our diaspora Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities remain almost entirely unaware of the scale of assistance we provide to Pakistan and Bangladesh as our two largest bilateral aid budgets.

Spending £14 billion annually, at a time when domestic budgets are under such restraint, without seriously attempting to secure public support is a high risk policy in a democracy.

The absence of a serious communication strategy in support of our chosen policy has meant that the only time that the public hears about it, is in response to ‘horror stories’ about wasted expenditure. However distorted and sensationalised that reporting often turns out to be, in the absence of a comprehensive case in support of the policy, it merely reinforces the prejudices that taxpayers hold against it.

In addition to a serious effort to make the case for international development assistance there are two things that would significantly assist in that effort.

First, to remove the HM Treasury requirement that The International Development Department’s (DFID) administrative costs are capped at two per cent. It is this constraint that drives so much of the reliance on consultants and contractors to deliver aid projects. Though much of this reliance is entirely proper, equally it means that DFID, whilst minimising its own administration costs, is effectively funding the overheads and administration of the delivering organisations and feeding a toxic debate about inflated fees, salaries and profits.

Second, we should concentrate our development aid budget where it is more obviously in pursuit of our wider policy objective of prospering in a more stable world (and this was the point that the PM made most strongly): Economic development has to be our main effort; In the end, international development comes down to one thing; it is all about jobs.

It is the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of livelihoods, whether caused by instability, violence, poor governance, or any other impediment to investment, that drives those who have the wherewithal to escape –with the assistance of a most despicable criminal trade in human misery - in pursuit of a better life elsewhere.

Linking our aid effort more conspicuously to dealing with the forces that drive the deeply worrying wave of human migration would demonstrably address a matter of great public concern, and at the same time reduce the scope for ‘niche’ projects going awry and bringing the entire development enterprise into disrepute.

A more popular international development effort, would also be a more effective one.