Financing for sustainable development

Aid fragmentation and aid orphans



Providers of development co-operation decide individually which countries to assist and to what extent. As a consequence, the global development co-operation landscape is increasingly proliferated. The resulting imbalances can impair the effectiveness of aid through aid fragmentation as well as accumulation of providers in some countries – so called “darlings” – and gaps in aid provision in others – commonly known as “orphans”. 








‌OECD-DAC Development Brief: Where do we stand on the Aid Orphans? (.pdf)

The geographical gaps in aid distribution, commonly known as aid orphans, are consequences of the complexity of the current global development co-operation system, which is characterised 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 based on the updated version of the Identification and Monitoring of Potentially Under-aided Countries.



Statistical Resources

Global allocations: 
  • By region
  • By income group 
Allocations by partner country:
Allocations by donor:



Aid architecture (.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%.

Aid Orphans: Whose Responsibility? 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.