Global aid stagnates at a time of unprecedented needs

The slight decrease in development aid spending in 2017 is bad news for the fight to end poverty and reduce inequalities, said Oxfam today in response to the publication of new aid figures by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Julie Seghers, OECD policy and advocacy advisor at Oxfam said:

“The 0.6% decrease may seem marginal, but it deprives poor countries of money that could have provided free universal healthcare for 10 million people. Cutting this lifeline is unacceptable.

"Oxfam welcomes the increase in aid for the world’s poorest countries, which reverses a declining trend since 2010, but this only makes up 18% of total aid. More ambitious action for the poorest people on our planet is urgently needed.

“The fact that less aid was spent within rich countries’ own borders to process and host refugees in 2017 is good news. Rich countries have a responsibility and obligation to welcome people fleeing disasters, conflicts or persecution - but they should not raid their overseas aid budgets to do it.

"Unfortunately, this decline does not mark a deliberate move away from using aid to cover these costs - but rather a fall in the number of asylum applications, which is partly linked in part to policies that limit the number of migrants arriving at rich nations borders.”

 

Notes to editors: 

The OECD 2017 aid figures are here: http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/

Decrease in overseas aid

The data from 29 rich nations revealed that overall spending on overseas aid decreased by 0.6 percent in 2017, in part due to less aid money being spent on hosting and processing refugees in donor countries. Rich countries only committed 0.31 percent of their national income to international aid– down from 0.32% in 2016 and well below the 0.7 percent they promised to deliver in 1970. In 2017 just 5 countries – Sweden, Norway, the UK, Luxembourg, and Denmark, have lived up to this promise. Germany, who had joined the “0.7% club” in 2016, has now fallen back under the 0.7% threshold, in part due to a decrease in the spending on processing and hosting refugees within German borders.

Increase in aid to the least developed countries

The proportion of aid spent in the world’s poorest countries was up by 4 percent. 47 countries are currently designated by the United Nations as "Least Developed Countries" (LDCs). Members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) committed to reversing the declining trend of aid to LDCs in the communiqué of the 2014 DAC High Level Meeting.

Decline in spending on hosting refugees in OECD countries

The OECD aid figures show a 13.6 percent reduction in the amount of overseas aid spent hosting and processing refugees in OECD countries in 2017 – which was down to $14.2 billion. This decline is linked to a fall in the number of asylum applications, which results in part from policies aimed at limiting the number of migrants arriving at rich countries’ borders. It does not reflect a deliberate move away from using overseas aid to cover the costs of hosting refugees in rich countries.

The number of new asylum seekers in Europe dropped by about 50 percent between 2016 and 2017, from 1.21 million people applied for asylum for the first time in EU countries in 2016 to 650,000 in 2017, down to a level similar to those recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016. Source: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/8754388/3-20032018-AP-EN.pdf/50c2b5a5-3e6a-4732-82d0-1caf244549e3

Increase in funds for humanitarian assistance

The proportion of aid spent on humanitarian assistance increased by 6 percent in 2017.  However in 2017, only 50.6 percent of humanitarian needs were funded: USD $11.9 billion were raised to respond to the UN-coordinated humanitarian appeal, which still left a gap of USD $11.6 billion. The UN predicts that more than 128 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2018 – and more funding than ever before is required to help them. Source: http://interactive.unocha.org/publication/globalhumanitarianoverview/   

Aid Works

Overseas aid has contributed to much of the global development progress we’ve seen in recent decades. It played a significant role in the virtual eradication of polio. Today all but three countries are declared ‘polio free’, and the number of reported cases fell from more than 350,000 in 1988 when the global eradication effort began, to just 359 cases in 2014. (World Health Organization Factsheet: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs114/en/

In addition, the mass distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets in sub-Saharan Africa was also made possible by overseas aid. Between 2004 and 2014, this reduced the mortality rate from malaria by 58 percent, equivalent to saving 6.2 million lives, the majority being children under 5. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report 2015: http://www.un.org/

Thanks to multilateral funding through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), 72 million more children were in primary school in 2015 compared to 2002, and 238,000 teachers were trained in 2016, up from around 98,000 in 2014.  (GPE results: https://www.globalpartnership.org/data-and-results/key-results and https://www.globalpartnership.org/focus-areas/teaching-and-learning)

Contact information: 

Dannielle Taaffe, Head of News: +447917110066 / dannielle.taaffe@oxfam.org

For updates, please follow @Oxfam