1. Home
  2. Media centre
  3. Global aid stalls despite increasing need: Falling aid levels show donor’s wavering commitments

Global aid stalls despite increasing need: Falling aid levels show donor’s wavering commitments

Global aid levels have effectively flatlined, according to data released the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC), who today released preliminary Official Development Assistance (ODA) figures for 2017.

Overall aid levels fell to $146.6 billion in 2017 (down 0.6% from 2016 in real terms) – due to a decrease in aid being spent at home to support refugees (IDRC – In-Donor Refugee costs). If IDRC is excluded, ODA rose by 1.1% last year. Even excluding refugee costs, almost half of DAC donors decreased their total aid in 2017.

The world’s poorest countries – least developed countries (LDCs) – saw an increase in the bilateral aid they received of 4%, a welcome sign. But humanitarian aid is also on the rise (up 6% since 2016). This is cause for concern, because it shows that donors are increasing aid for short-term fixes but global aid is not rising alongside to meet the world’s immense challenges, particularly with the Sustainable Development Goals due in 2030.

Sara Harcourt, Senior Policy Director at ONE, said: “The overall trends are concerning – we’re just over a decade away from the ambitious global goals, and what today’s figures show is that donors are simply not prioritising their commitments to ending poverty. Rather than stepping up, a majority of a donors are stalling, or worse, slipping back.

“There are, however, some positive signals. Donors are gradually increasing the amount of aid to the poorest countries, but we must see this continued in coming years if we’re going to meet the immense needs the world is facing today.”


The OECD and Official Development Assistance: The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines development aid and monitors its flows to developing countries. The committee has measured resource aid flows since 1961.

Special attention has been given to the official and concessional part of these flows, defined as “official development assistance” (ODA). The DAC first defined ODA in 1969, and tightened the definition in 1972. ODA is the key measure used in practically all aid targets and assessments of aid performance. The definition is of great importance for the global goal that donor countries commit 0.7% of their GNI to development assistance.