Politicians must NOT misuse development aid

Politicians must NOT misuse development aid

This post was written by ONE’s Policy Officer for Development Finance, Isabelle De Lichtervelde.


In 2015, world leaders made important promises to the world’s poorest. They re-committed to spending 0.7% of national income on development aid and agreed that more of it needed to be spent in the 48 least-developed countries (LDCs). The world’s poorest countries.

Now, however, this money is coming under threat.

These are some of the threats to the life-saving aid we’ve fought so hard for:

  1. Money is being spent at home

In response to the refugee crisis in Europe, governments have started to divert life-saving aid away from the poorest countries to cover the cost of this crisis at home. In 2014, donor countries cut aid to LDCs by almost $2 billion, while increasing the amount they spent at home to cover refugee costs by almost the same amount. And this was just 2014. As a result of the intensification of the crisis, ONE predicts that in-donor refugee costs reported by European donors could rise to more than USD 10 billion in 2016.

On February 18-19, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will meet to discuss redefining what can count as aid, including whether the money being spent on refugees at home should be included.

We believe that governments must find the resources to meet the needs of those arriving at Europe’s borders – and fast. But the money used in donor countries to deal with the increasing cost of the refugee crisis shouldn’t count as aid.  The world’s poorest should not foot the bill for this crisis. Europe can, and must, do both.

  1. Aid is being used to cover security costs

Another worrying suggestion that will be discussed at the OECD meeting next week is that aid may be used to cover security costs, including counter-terrorism measures. We think this is an unacceptable use of money that has been promised to the world’s poorest. ODA should be used to fight poverty and solve issues such as hunger and nutrition, tackling preventable diseases, and water and sanitation for all – not building fences.

  1. Progress made is being put at risk

Not receiving the funds they have been promised puts the progress being made in the world’s poorest countries at risk.

Aid to the poorest countries has declined for the second year in a row in 2014 and the proportion of aid allocated to these countries is at its lowest in ten years.

The world has had such incredible success over the past 10 years – for example, the number of people on life-saving AIDS medication has increased from 700,000 to 15 million since 2000. But, if plans to dilute aid go ahead, we are putting this hard-work at risk by spending larger proportions of aid on things other than fighting extreme poverty. Millions of people still live in poverty and hunger, without access to basic services. About 900 million people still live under $1.90 a day. Although the world is close to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, sub-Saharan Africa and LDCs are very far behind. 58% of the world’s children of primary school age who are out of school are in sub-Saharan Africa. The region also still has the highest child mortality rate.

We will not win the war against extreme poverty and inequality if the poorest and most vulnerable are being left behind. We must not take aid money away from them.

Aid should be focused on fighting extreme poverty and should prioritise the countries and people who have the least. If we want to meet the #GlobalGoals announced by the UN in September, we must commit to giving to the poorest countries the aid they have been promised – not divert it to tackle security costs abroad and our crises at home.

Join us in asking our governments to meet and respect the needs of refugees without doing so at the expense of the world’s poorest.

Sign our Protect the Poorest petition now!


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