In October 2018 Development Initiatives (DI) launched the third Investments to End Poverty report, which highlighted a number of challenges with the way that resources are currently allocated across developing countries. Chief among these is the fact that the places and people most at risk of being left behind have access to the fewest resources, and that continuing with business as usual will not improve this scenario. The gap between the poorest people and the rest is growing – in income, in access to resources, in opportunity – and looks set to continue to widen. This, the report shows, leaves a critical role for aid to play in directly targeting poverty eradication. However, concerning trends in the way official development assistance (ODA) is allocated threaten to prevent it from doing so effectively.
The OECD DAC’s release of final 2017 ODA data confirms the findings of Investments to End Poverty 2018, as it shows that these worrying trends (largely) continue. It further underlines the urgency with which action needs to be taken to change trajectory if we are to end poverty by 2030 and leave no one behind. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is possible and there is scope for optimism. However, much more needs to be done to both increase ODA levels (e.g. only five donors achieved the 0.7% target in 2017, down from six in 2016) and better target ODA to the places and sectors that need it most. For example, similarly to 2016, only a small proportion of ODA reached the countries most at risk of being left behind and no substantial change was recorded in allocations to health and social protection while education saw a small, real terms decrease.