Oxfam reaction to the publication of new OECD aid figures

The leadership of a handful of countries is masking the failure of the majority to deliver on their overseas aid promises, said Oxfam today in response to the publication of new figures for overseas aid spending by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  

“While total cash flows have plateaued, overseas aid has, yet again, fallen in real terms over the last year and less of this money is finding its way to the poorest and most vulnerable countries," said Claire Godfrey,  Senior Policy Advisor at Oxfam. “This picture would be a lot worse if it were not for the leadership of a handful of countries such as the UK and Denmark,  masking the poor performance of the majority. Wealthy countries, such as France, the US and Australia, have failed to uphold their commitments to the world’s most vulnerable people.”

France has cut its aid budget for the fourth year in a row and Spain overseas aid spending is at its lowest level since 1989. The US, as the world’s richest nation, is still a long way off contributing its fair share while Australia plans to make the biggest cuts in overseas aid spending in its nation’s history next year.

“Governments first promised to deliver 0.7 per cent of their national income to support poor countries when Richard Nixon was President of America and the Beatles were topping the charts. In the 45 years since only a handful of countries have delivered on this promise. Yet with some one billion people still living in poverty and climate change posing huge new development challenges the need for overseas aid is greater than ever before,” said Godfrey.

Aid is vitally important. Between 2000 and 2012 overseas aid prevented the deaths of an estimated 3 million children under the age of five from malaria. In the next decade aid could help build health services needed to halt the spread of another Ebola-type outbreak. Aid can also help poor countries clamp down on corporate tax evasion and unlock billions of dollars to invest in tackling poverty and inequality.  

“This year the global community should agree ambitious new development goals and a new deal for tackling climate change. Rich countries really need to up their game and ensure the Finance for Development Meeting in Ethiopia in July provides the money that is needed. Finance Ministers must outline how they will deliver on past aid promises and ensure a greater proportion of aid is spent in the poorest countries. They must also commit to delivering new and additional money to help poor countries deal with the impacts of climate change.”

Notes to editors: 

The OECD figures show that total overseas aid spending has fallen by 0.5 per cent in real terms over the last year

Australia had committed to deliver 0.5 per cent of GNI (Gross National Income) to overseas aid by 2015. In 2014 -15 overseas aid commitments have remained largely static at 0.32 per cent of GNI. However in the upcoming Federal Budget the Australian Government has outlined its plans to cut overseas aid to 0.22 per cent of GNI by 2016-17. This will be the lowest level of aid as a proportion of GNI that Australia has ever given in the 60 years of its official aid program.

French overseas aid has declined for its fourth consecutive year to 0.36 per cent of GNI from a high point of 0.5 per cent of GNI in 2010.  France had committed to deliver 0.7 per cent of GNI in overseas aid by 2015.

US aid flows have remained stable over the last year. Although the US spends more money on aid than any other country, as a percentage of its national income the US spends far less.  With economic growth picking up in the United States, the US should be highly capable of contributing more to global development.

Overseas aid spending by Spain remains in its lowest level since 1989 - since 2011 aid spending has been shrunk almost 50 per cent.

The UK has legally committed to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on overseas aid.

Contact information: 

For more information and to arrange an interview contact Anna Ratcliff: +44 1865 339 157, +44 7542 420 089 or anna.ratcliff@oxfaminternational.org

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