LONDON – OECD members’ overall development aid hit a record $135.2 billion in 2014, but aid to the world’s poorest countries extended its decline of recent years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said on Wednesday.
The OECD said much of the 16 percent drop in real terms in aid to the poorest was due to exceptionally high debt relief for Myanmar in 2013, but even excluding debt relief, development assistance to the poorest countries fell by 8 percent.
The OECD total is for aid given by the 28 member states of its development assistance committee (DAC).
“I am encouraged to see that development aid remains at a historic high at a time when donor countries are still emerging from the toughest economic crisis of our lifetime,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said in a statement.
“Our challenge as we finalise post-2015 development goals this year will be to find ways to get more of this aid to the countries that need it most and to ensure we are getting as much as we can out of every dollar spent.”
Bilateral aid to sub-Saharan Africa in 2014 was $25 billion, a drop of 5 percent in real terms from 2013 if price rises and exchange rate movements are factored in.
Bilateral aid is given directly by donor countries to recipients and equals two-thirds of the OECD’s total official development assistance (ODA).
A survey of donor spending plans through 2018 indicated aid to the poorest countries should recover over the next few years after several years of declines, in line with the decision by member countries to reverse the declining trend, the OECD said.
“Official development assistance remains crucial for the poorest countries and we must reverse the trend of declining aid to the least developed countries,” DAC chairman Eric Solheim said.
“OECD ministers recently committed to provide more development assistance to the countries most in need. Now we must make sure we deliver on that commitment.”
ODA makes up more than two thirds of external financing for the world’s poorest countries.
Aid movers and shakers
Of the 28 DAC member countries Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Britain again exceeded the United Nations 0.7 percent target for aid as a share of national income.
Thirteen countries boosted their ODA in 2014, the biggest increases being from Finland, Germany,Sweden and Switzerland.
Fifteen countries reported a drop in ODA, with the biggest falls in Australia, Canada, France, Japan,Poland, Portugal and Spain.
Among non-DAC members who reported their 2014 aid flows to the OECD, the United Arab Emirates posted ODA of the highest percentage of national income at 1.17 percent.
The United States remained the largest donor by volume in 2014, with ODA at $32.7 billion, an increase of 2.3 percent in real terms from 2013.