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Aid spending flatlines as converging crises threaten economic catastrophe for the poorest countries

Anti-poverty organisation the ONE Campaign today warned that more countries could be pushed to the brink if aid levels continue to stagnate, as new analysis shows the scale of the economic crises facing the world’s poorest people. The warning comes as the latest OECD-DAC figures show that despite unprecedented pressures created by the pandemic, there has only been only a relatively small increase in aid levels over the past two years.

Since 2020, ONE has been tracking the impact of the pandemic on people in the world’s poorest countries. With the fallout from the war in Ukraine adding to the economic aftershocks of the pandemic, the latest data reveals how these converging crises are having a devastating impact on people in the world’s poorest countries. 

As global finance chiefs prepare to gather for next week’s IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings, ONE is calling for them to agree on a more ambitious recovery plan that addresses the economic impact of these converging crises. 

Amy Dodd, Policy Director at the ONE Campaign, said: 

“The scale of the economic shock facing developing countries is immense, on top of the already enormous challenge of responding to the pandemic, tackling climate change, and averting a new debt crisis. While the overall aid levels have increased slightly in the last two years, it is insufficient to meet growing needs.

“Unless urgent action is taken –  on aid, to tackle the debt crisis and mobilise new finance  – the latest aftershocks from the invasion of Ukraine will hit people and countries already struggling to cope. 

“The choice at the Spring Meetings next week is simple: rise to the challenge or risk plunging us all into a deeper crisis. A real economic response plan that meets the scale of the economic costs facing the world’s poorest countries is long overdue – it’s time global finance chiefs start earning their keep.”

Notes to editors: 

  • New 2021 figures published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on overseas development assistance (ODA) show that while aid spending went up by 4.4% in real terms in 2021, it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the immense needs required from the pandemic. Excluding the cost of vaccine donations, ODA only increased by 0.6% in real terms.  
  • The rise in ODA spending can be attributed to increases from 23 DAC member countries, including France (up 4.6%),  Germany (up 5.1%), Canada (up 8%) and the United States (up 14.4%) but worth noting that the United Kingdom cut ODA by 21.2% – the only G7 country to cut ODA. 
  • Net bilateral aid to low-income countries rose, in real terms, just 1% compared to 2020, while aid to Africa rose 3.4% and to Sub-Saharan Africa by 2%. This means that ODA to those groupings grew slower than total ODA, that proportionally less of total net aid went to some of the poorest countries.
  • Non-grant ODA (loans and equity) continued to make up a significant proportion of gross bilateral ODA at 19%, despite the growing debt crisis. 
  • Since 2020, ONE has been tracking the impact of the pandemic on people in the world’s poorest countries via its Africa Tracker and the ONE Ukraine tracker in order to pull together a series of datapoint to map out how these converging crises – conflict, pandemic, debt, climate – are having a devastating economic impact on people living in the world’s poorest countries.
  • The IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings will take place from 18-24 April. ONE is urging global finance chiefs to address the economic impact of these converging crises – starting by protecting existing ODA budgets and ensuring any financial support for refugees and the Ukraine crisis comes in addition to existing aid allocation. ONE is also calling for G20 countries to urgently recycle at least $100 billion in Special Drawing Rights, fix the Common Framework and leverage new lending through multilateral development banks.