Biography: Martin Dinham

Photograph of Martin DinhamMartin Dinham joined the UK civil service in 1974 and has since spent most of his career in the Department for International Development (DFID) and its predecessor organisations. He took over as Director General, International on 1 April 2008.

After a number of jobs in London assisting with the UK’s aid programmes to West and North Africa and relations with the UN, Martin became Assistant Private Secretary to the then Labour Minister Judith Hart in 1978. He then took on responsibility for the UK aid programmes to Malawi and Zambia before being seconded in 1981 to the World Bank in Washington, where he worked in the UK Executive Director’s Office.

He returned to the Department (then called the Overseas Development Administration - ODA) in 1983 to become Head of Personnel Branch.

After two years he was appointed as Principal Private Secretary to successive Ministers for Overseas Development, Tim Raison and Chris Patten. In early 1988 he became Head of the South East Asia Development Division (SEADD), the department’s Regional Office in Bangkok responsible for Britain’s development programmes in South East Asia. From there he was seconded to the Hong Kong Government in July 1992 to act as Adviser to the Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, during the five years leading to the handover of Hong Kong to China.

Martin returned to DFID HQ in September 1997 to take over as Head of Personnel, responsible for personnel management of DFID’s staff in the UK and overseas. In September 2000 he was appointed as Director, Asia and the Pacific, based in London, which included responsibility for the UK’s development policies and programmes in South Asia, South East Asia, and China.

At the beginning of January 2005 Martin took over as Director, Europe, Middle East and Americas (EMAD) with oversight of DFID’s development programmes and policies in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Iraq, Latin America and Central America, the Caribbean and the Overseas Territories. As with the Asia role, much of the work of the EMA Division involved close partnerships with the major development players in the region, such as the World Bank, the Regional Development Banks, the European Commission, UN bodies and other bilateral donors. In September 2006, the programmes to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, East Timor and Indonesia were included under his Directorship.

At the beginning of October 2007 Martin assumed the role of Director for UN, Conflict and Humanitarian Division (UNCHD), supervising the UN & Commonwealth Dept, the Conflict, Humanitarian & Security Dept, and the Stabilisation Unit, a joint unit shared with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence. In December 2007 Martin started a period as DFID Acting Director-General (DG), covering first Corporate Performance issues; then supervising DFID’s Country Programme Divisions; and latterly becoming DG International with responsibility for DFID’s relations with all multilateral development organisations. In this role he is a member of DFID’s Management Board and supervises three Divisions: for International Finance and Development Effectiveness; for Europe and Donor Relations; and for United Nations, Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs.

Martin is married with two children aged 22 and 19 and lives in Muswell Hill, north London.

Last updated: 18 Mar 2009