Development finance standards

Official development assistance (ODA)


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Official development assistance (ODA) is defined as government aid that promotes and specifically targets the economic development and welfare of developing countries. The DAC adopted ODA as the “gold standard” of foreign aid in 1969 and it remains the main source of financing for development aid. ODA data is collected, verified and made publicly available by the OECD.

ODA final data 2021

Official development assistance (ODA) totalled USD 185.9 billion in 2021, an upwards revision from the provisional figure of USD 179 billion released in April following revisions by several DAC members.

The 2021 ODA total is equivalent to 0.33% of DAC members’ combined gross national income (GNI).

The 2021 total marks an 8.5% rise in real terms (i.e. adjusted for inflation and exchange rate fluctuations) compared to 2020 due mostly to COVID-19 support, particularly in the form of vaccine donations. Excluding vaccine donations, 2021 ODA would have increased by 4.8% in real terms from 2020.

DAC countries spent USD 21.9 billion on COVID-19 related activities in 2021, representing about 12% of their combined net ODA. Within this total, USD 11.1 billion were spent on support related to COVID-19 control (e.g. prevention, treatment and care), as well as vaccine donations, while the rest was spent on humanitarian aid and macro-economic support.

Total 2021 ODA included USD 181.4 billion in the form of grants, loans to sovereign entities, debt relief and contributions to multilateral institutions; USD 1.2 billion to development-oriented private sector instrument (PSI) vehicles and USD 3.3 billion in the form of net loans and equities to private companies operating in ODA-eligible countries.

Explore the latest 2021 trends

Key resources:

What is ODA?

Official development assistance (ODA) flows to countries and territories on the DAC List of ODA Recipients and to multilateral development institutions are:

i. Provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies; and

ii. Concessional (i.e. grants and soft loans) and administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as the main objective.

The DAC list of countries eligible to receive ODA is updated every three years and is based on per capita income.

Military aid and promotion of donors' security interests are not ODA.

Find out more

    • In-donor refugee costs in Official Development Assistance

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    • Climate-related official development assistance

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