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

WASHINGTON — 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), of which the United States is a member, released its final findings from 2016, which 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.

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. Last year, the White House’s budget proposal called for a 32 percent cut to the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“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. That’s why it is so important for our nation’s elected leaders to fully fund the International Affairs Budget, which saves innocent lives, helps create jobs here in America and makes America safer,” said Tom Hart, North American Executive Director, ONE. “Failure to invest in the world’s poorest countries will squander this golden opportunity to help end extreme poverty.”

“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,” said Sara Harcourt, Senior Policy Director at ONE. “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.”

Notes to Editors

  • 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.
  • To schedule an interview with an expert about these findings, please contact Sean Simons at [email protected]