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Global aid figures released. Are rich nations 0.7 committed?

Published 15th April 2010 - 9 comments - 6023 views -

I reckon that I’m pretty much 0.7% committed and I want government’s around the world to be equally committed. Not much to ask?

Well, judging by last years aid figures, which were released yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it‘s a lot to ask for many countries. With the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) review conference just a few months away these figures set the scene for how rich nations are doing in delivering their part of the MDGs.

So, the good news. It's been 40 years since rich countries made the promise to give 0.7% Gross Domestic Product (what they earn) as international aid. The UK is on track to meet this commitment by 2013. Currently, only Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have honoured this. Further good news comes as the main UK political parties have all pledged to introduce legislation in the next parliament to require the UK government to permanently keep this life-saving promise. That's fantastic and something that campaigners up and down the UK should be proud of. It goes without saying that I won't be satisfied until that becomes law!

We know that when aid is delivered properly it transforms lives. Like in Nepal, where targeted  development aid has been pivotal in dramatically improving healthcare. According to Oxfam, "since 2006 the under-five mortality rate has reduced by 22 per cent, neo-natal mortality by 38 per cent and maternal mortality has fallen by 19 per cent. In fact maternal mortality has now fallen by 58 per cent in the country since 1996 - a towering success".

What else do the OECD figures show? There has been a fraction of an increase in total aid, from $122 to $123 billion. At first glance that seems great BUT (there's so often a BUT) the amount of aid has actually fallen by $3.5 billion when compared with last year’s prices. Clearly, not every country is doing as well as those above. Italy, Ireland, Canada, Germany and Japan all cut their aid budgets last year. This isn’t good enough and all rich countries must commit to timetables to meet 0.7 when they meet at the UN Summit in September.

Hopefully the UK government can play a leading role in getting the other countries to show that same level of 0.7% commitment. After all, it's not a lot to ask for but it can save millions of lives.

Category: Aid | Tags: aid, mdg, oecd, uk election,


  • Edgars Skvariks on 15th April 2010:

    I guess the next ones will be Belgium, Finland and Ireland. United States by ODA/GNI seems very far, not to mention Greece and Korea.

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 16th April 2010:

    That is the key Ian: Aid should be delivered properly and when it is, it transforms lives. Thanks for this.

  • Bart Knols on 16th April 2010:

    Although the Netherlands has done well in keeping its promises this may change soon. After the government fell recently over the continued military presence of Dutch forces in Afghanistan we have elections coming up on 9 June. Budget cuts are needed to keep the country afloat, and several parties likely to form a new government want to slash aid…

  • Nicola Limodio on 16th April 2010:

    The 0.7 figure may be deceptive for this year, a few countries may show an increase in their % figure but not in their “actual contribution”. This is explicable because of the GDP decline and the relative constance of their aid figures… so in a crisis year it’s better to look at absolute terms (as you did by noticing that at constant prices aid has actually fallen).

  • Ian Sullivan on 17th April 2010:

    Netherlands has done really well and the next few months could be key for them in determining the future direction of their aid policy - let’s hope that they stay above 0.7.

    I should addd in that the US has seen a slight increase in aid but they still languish in percentage terms 0.2% of GDP.

    @nicola - I know wht you mean and the actual number is really important. It jus shows where we’re at in terms of aid as, as campaigners, we have to get to 0.7 before we worry about other elements…

  • Bart Knols on 17th April 2010:

    @Ian. Beyond the figure of 0.7%, there is another major issue. It is the conditionality of support. For instance, if you receive EU funding, they want you to purchase 4x4 cars manufactured in Europe (e.g. Landrover). So the money essentially flows back. If you read the bestseller ‘Lords of Poverty’ you see more astonishing results of this. Canada and the US actually make money out of their aid, re-routing most aid funds directly back into their own economy…

  • Ian Sullivan on 19th April 2010:

    @bart - that is an important point that you raise. Lots of critics of aid slate it for not reducing poverty but a lot of aid isn’t given for that end and the issue of how aid is given is as important as the amount. Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about that.

  • Bart Knols on 19th April 2010:

    @Ian. This will be an interesting topic to write about. If you have not seen the book ‘Lords of Poverty’, I may suggest it. That’s an eye opener. But then ‘unrestricted’ or ‘unconditional’ aid brings us back to the Moyo book ‘Dead Aid’...If you can figure out how it would be best, that would be a great outcome of THINK3!

  • Ian Sullivan on 23rd April 2010:

    @bart - if I can figure that out I’ll be a hero! I’m going to be looking at some of the policy wonks of this debate over the next few weeks to try and discern what they have to say….

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