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Global aid reached all-time high in 2016 – but poorest still lost out

  • ONE Campaign warns of worrying trend undermining latest DAC figures

Confirmation that global aid reached record levels in 2016 was marred by affirmation of a worrying trend showing the world’s poorest countries are receiving a smaller share each year.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) released its final findings from 2016 over Christmas, and they show global aid reached an all-time high of $142.44 billion – an increase of 9.23% in real terms.

Aid to the least developed countries (LDCs) increased by 5.4%, largely due to aid given by multilateral institutions.

But the statistics also confirmed the proportion of this record aid going to least developed countries (LDCs) fell overall by one percentage point, down from 2015’s 28% to 27%. This is compared to 32% in 2013.

A large reason for the declining share to LDCs is due to a record amount of aid being spent on refugees at home. In 2016, $15.96 billion was spent on refugees in donor countries, an increase of 32% in real terms from 2015, and totaling 11.2% of total ODA.

Sara Harcourt, Senior Policy Director at ONE, said:  “That the poorest countries are receiving a smaller share of aid compared to just a few years ago is worrying and should sound alarm bells – especially given these countries are home to more than 40% of the world’s poorest.”

The share of global aid going to Africa – home to over 50% of the world’s extreme poor – has dropped from 36% in 2012 to 32% in 2016, the figures showed.

The impact of this drop in aid is compounded by the growing youth population of Africa who urgently need investments in local economies to boost the availability of jobs.

Harcourt continued: “The fight against extreme poverty, particularly in Africa, is being set back by this annual downward trend which is undermining the overall headline record figure.”

Harcourt continued: “With the huge growth in its youth population, Africa is on the verge of a demographic dividend, but only if it gets the necessary investment now. If there are not sufficient jobs and opportunities – coupled with healthcare and education provision – then this golden opportunity to help end extreme poverty for all will be lost.”



Notes to Editors

Sara Harcourt, Senior Policy Director at ONE is available for interview.

For interview requests and all other media queries, please contact Peter Simpson via [email protected] or (+44) 07881 370 441.

  • Please note that ONE’s methodology analyses aid flows from OECD DAC donors, not all donors as measured by DAC. ONE excludes debt relief in all of its ODA calculations.
  • The official OECD figures can be downloaded from here.

About ONE

The ONE Campaign is a policy and advocacy organization of more than 8 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, it raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and other preventable diseases, to increase investments education and employment, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs