Key trends 2018-2019:
1. Total ODA continues to increase, but much too slowly to meet international commitments
Preliminary data for 2019 show a total ODA of USD 169.2 billion from DAC countries and other official providers. DAC countries’ total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis increased by 1.4% in real terms compared to the previous year, to reach USD 152.8 billion, equivalent to 0.3% of gross national income (GNI). While Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom contribute at least 0.7% of GNI as ODA, current levels of ODA by DAC countries do not match the collective ambition of 0.7% ODA to GNI reiterated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or the international commitments set out in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Had DAC countries met this target in 2019, they would have provided USD 354.3 billion in ODA – USD 201.5 billion more than was provided. Given the particular role that ODA plays in addressing humanitarian needs, promoting peace and stability, building healthy, productive populations and sowing the seeds of global markets of the future, the case for sustained increases in ODA remains strong.
Of the other official providers that report to the DAC, 12 reported USD 16.45 billion of ODA in 2019. This trend was led by the three largest providers that report to the DAC: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, which together provided USD 15.3 billion in ODA. There was an 8% decrease from 2018 due to a fall in bilateral loans from the United Arab Emirates to developing countries. Turkey contributed the equivalent of 1.15% of its GNI as ODA. According to OECD estimates, contributions of other major providers of development co-operation not reporting their efforts to the OECD are on the rise. Overall, these contributions have increased by 17% over the last five years, reaching USD 7.2 billion in 2018.
2. ODA to LDCs increased, but LDCs still receive a small share of the private finance mobilised by official development finance
Net bilateral ODA from DAC countries to the group of least developed countries (LDCs) rebounded in 2019, after a drop in 2018, to reach 23.8% of gross bilateral ODA (USD 28.4 billion), representing an increase of 2.6% in real terms. Yet, total ODA to LDCs as a share of GNI has not changed since 2017, remaining at 0.09% of GNI – well below the ODA commitment of 0.15-0.20% of GNI reiterated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Istanbul Programme of Action. In 2018, five DAC countries (Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) provided at least 0.20% of GNI as ODA to LDCs, in line with their commitments. In spite of the specific need for ODA in LDCs, the overall proportion of ODA targeting LDCs has declined over the past ten years, so the upward shift in 2018-19 is very welcome.
3. Continued increase in flows to fragile contexts since 2014
Support to fragile contexts, which include 58 countries and territories, accounted for 35.2% of DAC countries’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 42.1 billion) and 76.5% of other official providers’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 16.1 billion) in 2018, while support from multilateral organisations accounted for an additional USD 30.6 billion. The 15 extremely fragile countries received 41.4% of DAC countries’ total amount to fragile contexts, and 82.7% of other official providers’ total allocations to fragile contexts due, mainly, to a significant increase in humanitarian aid. The Syrian Arab Republic (Syria), Yemen, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Nigeria were the top recipients in 2018, together accounting for 37% of the total support to fragile contexts from DAC countries and other official providers. In contrast, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Comoros, Kingdom of Eswatini, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea together received the least support to fragile contexts, consisting of 0.5% of total support.
4. Funding for gender equality is at an all-time high, but the share of ODA dedicated primarily to gender equality remains low
In 2018, DAC countries committed 42.1% of bilateral allocable aid (USD 53.1 billion) to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective, up from 36.2% in 2017. However, only 4% of commitments had gender equality as a principal objective, with no increase in recent years. Australia, Canada, Spain and Sweden supported gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective more than any other provider. Other official providers committed 17.1% of bilateral allocable aid (USD 225 million) to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (up from 14.8% in 2017). Only 1% of bilateral allocable aid was committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective. The United Arab Emirates provided the highest volume and share among other official providers.
5. Funding for environment and climate change increased slightly for DAC countries, but declined for other official providers in 2018
In 2018, DAC countries slightly increased ODA in support of the environment and climate change. They committed 33% of their bilateral allocable aid (USD 34.2 billion) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective (stable compared to 2017), while 11% focused on environmental issues as a principal objective only. Twenty-six per cent of bilateral allocable ODA (USD 27.5 billion) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, a small increase from 25% in 2017. Other official providers’ support for the environment decreased. They committed 2% of their bilateral allocable aid (USD 23 million) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, down from 11% in 2017. Two per cent of their bilateral allocable aid (USD 20.3 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, also down from 11% in 2017, and almost exclusively on mitigation.
In 2018, DAC countries’ bilateral ODA focused almost evenly on both Asia (USD 34.8 billion) and Africa (USD 33.3 billion). Japan and Germany were the top DAC providers in Asia, while the United States alone provided one third of all DAC countries’ bilateral ODA to Africa. In relation to their overall bilateral portfolio, Japan disbursed the highest share of its gross bilateral ODA to Asia (64%), while Portugal allocated the highest share of its bilateral portfolio to Africa (66%). Thirty-two per cent of DAC countries’ gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018. Other official providers’ bilateral ODA focused mainly on Asia (USD 15.4 billion), with a focus on the Middle East. Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia provided 94% of this amount. Kuwait provided almost half of other official providers’ gross bilateral ODA to Africa. Seven per cent of their gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018. The top five partner countries for DAC countries collectively were India, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Syria and Bangladesh. The top five partner countries for other official providers were Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Cuba and Serbia.
In 2018, DAC countries committed 37% of their bilateral ODA to social infrastructure and services (USD 46.3 billion). Austria, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia allocated at least 50% of their bilateral ODA to social infrastructure. Within this broad sector, DAC countries focused mostly on support to government and civil society (USD 16.3 billion) and health (USD 14.3 billion). DAC countries’ bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 14.7 billion (12% of bilateral ODA). DAC countries’ earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused primarily on humanitarian aid and on social sectors and governance. Other official providers collectively committed most of their bilateral ODA to humanitarian aid (USD 8.3 billion), with an emphasis on emergency response. Driven by Turkey’s large volume of humanitarian aid with an emphasis on emergency response, this amount accounted for 63% of their total bilateral ODA commitments. Other official providers’ earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations also focused on humanitarian aid.
Greece provided more ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 308 million (preliminary data), representing 0.14% of Greece’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019. The increase of 11% in real terms from 2018 was due mainly to in-donor refugee costs. Greece ranked 26th among DAC member countries in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio in 2019.
Greece’s ODA is yet to recover from significant cuts in public sector expenditure following the global financial crisis. While Greece continues to meet its multilateral commitments, principally to EU institutions, bilateral ODA decreased significantly in 2018 and was primarily spent on in-donor refugee costs and scholarships. Greece’s major recipient countries are its neighbours Turkey and Albania.
In 2018, the largest proportion of Greece’s ODA (87%) was provided as core contributions to multilateral organisations, including EU institutions. Gross bilateral ODA was 13% of total ODA, of which 17% was channelled through multilateral organisations. Greece’s total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the EU institutions, the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank Group. These contributions together accounted for almost 96% of Greece’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 6%, mainly through core contributions.