“Official Development Assistance isn’t as generous as the figures might suggest”

17 abril 2023

By Marlène Siméon, Director of PLATFORMA

$204 billion. This is the total amount of aid provided in 2022 by the world’s largest donor governments according to preliminary figures presented last week by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). A new record high! Unfortunately, Official Development Assistance (ODA) isn’t as generous as the figures might suggest. Up to 7.8% of ODA went to the rapid and strong response to the war in Ukraine.

This massive slice of aid dedicated to Ukraine is outstanding and we strongly welcome this impetus. States were able to mobilise substantial resources in a very short time and through increased coordination, including cash, grants, loans, programmes and technical assistance. Humanitarian aid, but also technical assistance, has been greatly increased to respond to the immediate consequences of Russia’s invasion in the very short term.

However, the OECD estimated figures raise five critical issues:

  • The capacity of donor countries in the medium and long term not to neglect other areas that also remain in need of support. Bilateral ODA towards least developed countries (LDCs) and Sub-Saharan Africa declined from 2021 to 2022 by respectively 0.7% and 7.8% in real terms. Even though the war in Ukraine and before that the COVID, but also the accelerated climate change and other crises are having a strong impact on food and energy prices throughout the world and inequalities between countries and at local and regional level remain strong.
  • The ability to mobilise new resources and reach the 0.7% gross national income (GNI) UN target in the majority of donor countries, which is far from being the case. Only 5 countries reached it in 2022: Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden. The average in OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries barely reached half of the target (0.36% of GNI). It is however the highest ratio recorded by the DAC in 40 years.
  • It is astonishing to see that donations within donor countries are counted even though the ODA’s objective, according to the OECD, is to contribute to the welfare of developing countries. For the first time since 2016 and the Syrian refugee crisis, in-donor refugee costs surpasses humanitarian aid.
  • How to ensure that the world is still focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? It would be interesting to show the impact of ODA on progress towards the SDGs and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, beyond the quantitative data.
  • Decentralised cooperation at the sub-national level is not systematically accounted for or simply reported on in an obligatory manner. Efforts are being made in this direction by some States and by the OECD. Recently, the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) – a partner of PLATFORMA – with the support of the Secretariat of State for International Cooperation, launched a tool for analysing official development assistance by local and regional governments, a step that should be taken and continued in all European countries and beyond.

Check all the relevant data on OECD website.

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