Aid statistics

History of DAC Lists of aid recipient countries


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For a series of former lists, please see the bottom of this page.

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   >Nature and purpose

   >Updates to list

   >Origins and history

   >Chronology of changes

   >Differing concepts of a developing country



 Nature and purpose

The DAC List of ODA Recipients is designed for statistical purposes.  It helps to measure and classify aid and other resource flows originating in donor countries.  It is not designed as guidance for aid or other preferential treatment.

It includes all low- and middle-income countries (as defined by the World Bank, based on gross national income [GNI]  per capita), except for those that are members of the G8 or the European Union (including countries with a firm accession date for EU membership). In addition, the list separately includes all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as defined by the UN.


 Updates to list

The DAC revises the list every three years. Countries that have exceeded the high-income threshold for three consecutive years at the time of the review are removed. In line with this review process, the DAC last revised the list in October 2011. The next review of the DAC List will take place in the second half of 2014.

Changes in the DAC List of ODA Recipients reflect substantial improvements in global prosperity over recent decades. Compared to the List as it is stood in 1970, only 17 countries have been added, 11 of these being former republics of the Soviet Union. By contrast, 55 countries have left the list, essentially because of increases in their per capita income. The trend towards higher income has continued despite the financial crisis.  In the latest revision of the list in 2011, five countries left the list and 25 countries that remained on it rose into a higher income category, whereas only two fell into a lower category.


Origins and history

The DAC has collected data on aid flows since its inception in 1961. 

As regards bilateral flows, early data collection related to the following recipients:

  • all countries and territories in Africa except South Africa
  • America except the United States and Canada
  • non-Communist Asian and Oceanic countries except Australia, Japan and New Zealand
  • Europe: Cyprus, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia

These recipients were eligible for ODA after it was adopted as a concept in 1969.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Communist countries in Asia - particularly China and Viet Nam - started to receive large amounts of aid, and were added to the data collection. Spain left the list at its request in 1983.

The end of the Cold War signaled the emergence of new economic and political realities.  In 1993 - with new aid requirements in the transition economies of eastern Europe and reduced aid needs in East Asia due to rapid progress - a new list was devised. It was divided into two parts:

  • Part I: Only aid to "traditional" developing countries counted as ODA, for which there is a long-standing United Nations target of 0.7% of donors' national income.
  • Part II: Aid to "more advanced" developing and eastern European countries were recorded separately as "official aid".

The two-part List of Aid Recipients was reviewed every three years. Countries above the World Bank threshold for high-income countries (per capita annual income around USD 9 000 at the time) for three consecutive years progressed from Part I to Part II of the list at the end of a three-year notice period. 

Other countries could also be transferred to Part II after a notice period if they were above the World Bank lending limit (around USD 5 000 annually) for three consecutive years, following consideration by the DAC of their development and resource status. One country transferred in the opposite direction, from Part II to Part I.

With successive revisions, the two-part list became increasingly complex (see note of country coverage changes below).  At the same time, aid to more advanced developing and transition countries declined as they became more prosperous, with several former Soviet bloc states joining the European Union and becoming donors themselves. In 2005, the DAC therefore reverted to a single List of ODA Recipients.In addition to a major simplification, the single list was organised on more objective needs-based criteria.


Chronology of changes in recipient country coverage, 1989-2011

After 1989, the following were added to the DAC List of ODA Recipients: Albania (1989); the Black Communities of South Africa (1991 - now South Africa); Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan (now the Kyrgyz Republic), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (1992); Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan (1993); Palestinian Administered Areas (1994); Moldova (1997); Belarus, Libya and Ukraine transferred from Part II (2005). 

Eritrea, formerly part of Ethiopia, has been recorded as a separate country from 1993. 

The former United States Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands has been progressively replaced by its independent successor states, viz. Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia (1992); Palau Islands and Northern Marianas (1994).

Over the same period, the following ODA recipients were removed from the DAC List: Portugal (1991); French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and St Pierre and Miquelon (1992); Greece (1995). From 2005, Bahrain left the list. From 2008, Saudi Arabia and Turks and Caicos Islands left the list.

A further update of the list took place in August 2009 to separately identify Kosovo. From 2011, Barbados, Croatia, Mayotte, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago left the list. In addition, South Sudan was added to the list in 2011 and Palestinian Administered Areas was renamed West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Data on aid to the following CEEC/NIS countries in transition, first collected for 1990 flows, were recorded against Part II of the list (as “official aid”) until and including 2004: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine. Flows to Moldova were recorded against this category up to and including 1996.

From 1996, the following high-income countries were transferred from Part I to Part II of the list: Bahamas, Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, Singapore and United Arab Emirates. 

From 1997, seven further high-income countries were transferred to Part II: Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Chinese Taipei, Cyprus, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Hong Kong (China), and Israel. From 2000, Aruba, the British Virgin Islands, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Korea, Libya, Macao, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia and the Northern Marianas (until it was removed the following year) progressed to Part II. From 2003, Malta and Slovenia progressed to Part II. 

As noted above, Part II of the DAC List was abolished in 2005, and data on official aid to those countries are no longer collected.

Data on total aid to Part I countries (ODA) and total aid to Part II countries (OA) were compiled according to the list in force in the year in question.  However, when a country was added to or removed from an income group in Part I, totals for the groups affected were adjusted retroactively to maximize comparability over time with reference to the latest list. 


 Differing concepts of a developing country

For the DAC, the term "developing country" employed without qualification has generally been taken to mean a country eligible for ODA. 

Other organisations have their own definitions: the World Bank usually uses the term to refer to low and middle-income countries, assessed by reference to per capita GNI. 

The DAC List of ODA Recipients is consistent with World Bank practice, except that it excludes countries that are members of the G8 or the EU, or that have a date of admission to the EU and lists the LDCs separately. 

Other organisations, treaties etc. often have a membership category designed for “developing countries”, and use the term to refer to the countries in that category.

These differences in coverage are usually minor.  DAC statistics based on the DAC List of ODA Recipients provide an authoritative guide to aid flows which is accepted and used by donors, recipients and international bodies.



Any reference in the present or past DAC Lists to states, entities or territories shall neither imply recognition nor approval by OECD members of the designations used.  The designations “countries” and “territories” are used as generic terms and do not carry any special meaning as to the political or legal classification of the recipients concerned.


Former DAC List of Aid Recipients


Related Documents


DAC List of ODA Recipients