Development aid declines, putting progress on poverty at risk

Development aid declines, putting progress on poverty at risk

Last month, the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) – the body responsible for collecting aid statistics – released the final Official Development Assistance (ODA, or aid) figures for 2012.

The OECD DAC published preliminary figures in April 2013, while the final figures bring updates and greater detail to aid spending. They also change some of the headlines.

As we highlighted in ONE’s 2013 DATA report, the final DAC statistics confirm that global aid flows to developing countries did fall for the second year in a row in 2012– a scenario we have not seen since the 1990s. The final figures show that global ODA in 2012 declined by 2.8% compared to 2011, as a result of government budgets tightening in rich countries.

ODA from the EU15 (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) dropped by 7.2% from 2011 to 2012, more than twice the total global drop in aid. The United states, the largest donor increased its aid by less than 1%, the United Kingdom, the second largest donor, froze aid and the two next biggest aid donors, France and Germany, cut aid by 4% compared to 2011.

While the final figures have confirmed a global drop in aid in 2012, ODA figures to Africa and sub-Saharan Africa have been significantly updated, showing that aid to these regions was essentially flat, as opposed to the decrease previously estimated.

Global aid to Africa increased by 0.21% and aid to sub-Saharan Africa by 0.34%.  Aid did still decrease however from the EU15 to Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, declining by 8.1% (Africa) and by 10.3% (sub-Saharan Africa) compared to 2011. Aid from the US to Africa and sub-Saharan Africa increased, but British, German and French aid to the continent declined.These cuts can have a devastating impact on the world’s poorest.

Incredible progress has been achieved in the fight against extreme poverty. The proportion of global population living in extreme poverty has been halved since 1990. If this trajectory is continued, we could see the virtual end of extreme poverty by 2030. But, as poor countries struggle to cope with the effects of the food, climate and global financial crises, progress – supported by donor assistance – is at risk.

Rich countries need to keep up the fight or risk reversing the huge progress on extreme poverty that has been made.  In the UK, the government has confirmed that it will meet the long-standing international target of allocating 0.7% of national income to aid from 2013 onwards.  This means that the aid budget will rise in line with projected British economic growth.  The UK will become the first G8 country to meet this aid target.  Other donors must step up and meet their long-standing aid commitments to help eradicate extreme poverty.

Check out this data visualisation tool to know more about specific donors, recipients or sectors.

Note: figures are net of debt relief and in 2012 prices.

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