International aid is increasing, but…..

International aid set a new record in 2023. In other words, the aid calculated by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The 32 countries on the OECD/DAC list donated 223.7 billion USD last year. This is an increase of 1.8% compared to the previous year, and it is the fifth consecutive year that more money is being donated to development aid within the OECD/DAC framework.

So far, so good. However, at just 0.37% of DAC donors’ total gross national income (GNI), total official development assistance (ODA) is still below the UN’s long-standing target of 0.7% of GNI. As the figure below from the OECD shows, only five countries, including Norway, Sweden and Denmark, meet the 0.7% target.

The target of 0.7% of gross national income was formally recognized on October 24, 1970, when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that included the goal that each economically advanced country will progressively increase its official development assistance to developing countries, making every effort to reach a net amount of at least 0.7% of its gross national product at market prices by the middle of the decade. Meaning before the mid-1970s. We’ll let the sentence stand while you take a look at the table at the bottom of the article.

However, the nice figures for 2023 also contain a few gloomy sides, namely that development aid, unfortunately in full accordance with the OECD/DAC principles, includes aid to countries that are not actually among the world’s poorest. Including humanitarian aid to Ukraine. And to Denmark, which, along with other countries, includes the cost of receiving refugees.

Numbers in perspective

Let’s geek out on the numbers a bit more. Directly from the OECD’s publication of the 2023 report:

Since 2019, ODA has risen by 34% from USD 160 billion to USD 214 billion (in constant 2022 prices), as DAC members mostly maintained or increased ODA budgets to support developing countries. Over the same period, humanitarian aid rose by 37.4% (from USD 18 billion to USD 25 billion), while remaining at 10-12% of total ODA, while in-donor refugee costs jumped by 184% from USD 10 billion to USD 29 billion.

A 34% increase over five years is not bad at all. But it’s tempting to put the figure into perspective. In the same period, the world’s five richest people have increased their wealth by 119% from USD 405 billion to USD 869 billion! (Source: Inequality Inc. – Oxfam)

Presenting the report, Carsten Staur, Chairman of the OECD/DAC, said, “Going forward we need donors to ramp up their support for the poorest and most vulnerable countries, in particular least developed countries and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. We need more focus on efforts to help partner countries counter extreme poverty and address climate change.”

Poor countries can only hope that donor countries are a little quicker to heed the call from the DAC committee chairman than they have been to meet the 0.7% target.

Source: OECD/DAC
Share in your network

Latest blog posts

Sign up for our newsletter