Aid architecture

Aid fragmentation and aid orphans




Fragmentation occurs when there are too many donors giving too little aid to too many countires. This can seriously impair the effectiveness of aid. The current pattern of how aid is delivered and received shows aid splintered across too many donors, each with their own processes and priorities, working in often overlapping relationships with each other. OECD/DAC data shows that only a fraction of actual aid volume - 5% - is handled by half of all aid relations. Not only is this pattern complex to understand and co-ordinate, it also creates transaction costs and administrative burdens for recipient countries. This trend is spreading across the developement co-operation landscape. 

Founded on the OECD/DAC's work on fragmentation is a study of where aid activity overlaps and where it is missing. The areas where aid overlaps are commonly referred to as "aid darlings", while those where it is missing as "aid orphans".  What is the exact definition of an aid orphan? Which countries qualify? And what can we do to remedy the situation and provide the support needed? The answers to these questions are part of an ongoing debate, but one which the OECD/DAC is examining closely.


L‌atest documents



OECD-DAC Development Brief: Where do we stand on the Aid Orphans?

The geographical gap sin aid distribution, commonly known as aid orphans, are consequences of the complexity of the current global development co-operation system, which is charaterised by allocation practices which are, to a large extent, un-coordinated. The gaps and asymmetry in aid allocations have been part of the development agenda since the high-level meeting in Accra, and reinforced in Busan in 2011, but yet progress on this commitment has yet to be fulfilled.

This brief is basedon the updated version of the Identification and Monitoring of Potentially Under-aided Countries (forthcoming).

Thumbnail Identification and Monitoring of Potentially Under-aided Countries

Publication: Identification and Monitoring of Potentially Under-aided Countries 2013 (.pdf, 1.87 MB)

Aid allocations vary significantly from one country to another. The fact that some countries are “under-aided” is in part a consequence of the complexity of the current global development co-operation system, where aid allocation practices are to a large extent un-coordinated. This paper proposes a methodology based on four already-established aid allocation models to identify a list of potentially under-aided countries. As a next step, this list of countries could be further explored through more qualitative and political country-specific assessments.

This report was a background document for the DAC High Level Meeting in December 2012, where senior officials endorsed the systematic monitoring of potentially under-aided countries.

2011 OECD Report on Division of Labour: Addressing cross-country fragmentation of aid (pdf, 2.8 MB)

An increasing diversity of stakeholders contribute important resources and knowledge to achieve development goals. At the same time, the proliferation of donors and funding channels, and the resulting fragmentation of aid pose critical challenges to the effectiveness and impact of development co-operation. This report examines the most recent trends in aid fragmentation through analysis of all aid relations between 152 partner countries and 47 donors, covering all DAC members and the largest multilateral agencies. It also proposes targets for reducing aid fragmentation and looks at the new reality of donor exits from partner countries as bilateral donors concentrate their aid.

2009 OECD Report on Division of Labour: Addressing fragmentation and concentration of aid across countries (pdf, 2.3 MB)

The report traces up to 3 700 aid relationships between all 151 aid recipient countries and the 46 largest donors, covering all DAC members and the largest multilateral agencies. It examines the concept of aid fragmentation across countries and what has happened since the adoption of the Paris Declaration. It also proposes measures for concentration and fragmentation and options for tackling excessive fragmentation. This report shows that a decrease of 23% in the number of relationships is possible when only 4% of aid is reorganised. This reorganisation would lead to an increase in the volume of the average donor/partner aid relation by 30%.

Thumbnail Aid Orphans: Whose Responsibility?

Aid Orphans: Whose Reponsibility? Development Brief (.pdf)

The pattern of aid distribution across countries is insufficiently co-ordinated. Individual donors (public and private) decide separately which country programmes to assist and to what extent, based on their unique set of values, goals and criteria, shaped by specific contexts and historical relationships. The absence of timely information on other donors’ forward intentions impedes everyone’s ability to adjust their own plans accordingly. Furthermore, accountability to taxpayers or boards is seldom focused on correcting the actions of others, predictable or not: each donor has its own priorities and incentive framework.



Data on Fragmentation:

      Global allocations: 

By region (936 kb)

By income group (840 kb) 

          Country level allocations (2010):


Countries A to F (886 kb)


Countries G to N (1.008 kb)


Countries O to Z (1.004 kb)


           Country level allocations (2011):

Countries A to F (872 kb) 

Countries G to N (1 M)

Countries O to Z (944 kb)


          Country level allocations (2012):

All countries (1.75mb)

          Allocations by donor (2012):

All donors (2.88MB) 

          Country level allocations (2013)

All countries (2.853 kb)

          Allocations by donor (2013)

All donors (6.079 kb)