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.
At the High-level Political Forum in 2019, as we review progress on achieving the ambitious Agenda 2030, there is an opportunity for all actors in the development community to take action to change this trajectory so that no one is left behind. DI remains committed to being an active partner in this debate, and continuing the work needed to ensure that the world achieves the SDGs, providing evidence-led research and analysis to inform better and more effective decisions about how scarce development resources can be used most effectively (on questions ranging from what countries are at most risk of being left behind to what approaches donors can take to leverage additional domestic and private sector resources for poverty eradication).
- Total net ODA fell in 2017 for the first time in five years
- ODA as a percentage of GNI fell in 21 out of 29 DAC members in 2017
- The proportion of ODA given as core multilateral funding has remained steady
- The proportion of ODA not leaving donor countries continues to be high
- Eight of the top ten recipients of ODA in 2016 are also top 10 recipients in 2017
- Following minimal growth in recent years, ODA to countries at risk of being left behind grew 12% in 2017, whilst ODA to LDCs and fragile states grew by 11% and 9% respectively
- Growth in the use of loans continues to outpace grants, even in countries considered to be at risk of or in debt distress
- ODA to health is larger than any other single sector… but ODA to other key human capital related sectors has lagged behind