Development finance standards

In-donor refugee costs in official development assistance (ODA)


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DAC members can count the costs of assisting refugees on their soil as ODA. To preserve ODA integrity and allow comparability among members, the DAC endorsed in 2017 five clarifications to the reporting directives.

Five clarifications

Rationale for counting in-donor costs as ODA 
Underlines that refugee protection is a legal obligation and that assistance to refugees may be considered a form of humanitarian assistance.
Eligible categories of refugees
States that categories must be based on international legal definitions. Asylum seekers and recognised refugees are covered.
The “12-month rule”

Reaffirms that beyond 12 months, expenditures are outside the scope of statistics on international aid flows.

Eligibility of specific cost items
Explains what cost items may or not be included in reporting, e.g. temporary sustenance (food, shelter, training) is eligible but not costs for integrating refugees into the economy of the donor country.
Methodology for assessing costs 
Emphasises the need for a conservative approach.

The changes are aimed to improve the consistency, comparability, and transparency of DAC members reporting of ODA-eligible in-donor refugee costs.

Charting progress on the implementation of the five clarifications

Between 2019 and 2021, the DAC Working Party on Development Finance Statistics collected and reviewed the methodologies used by 25 members for calculating their ODA-eligible in-donor refugee costs. The resulting report includes lessons learnt and gives recommendations for improvements. Since Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, costs for the support of refugees grew, including those provided by a provider country to another provider country hosting people fleeing the war, such as Poland. This category of costs is separately identifiable in DAC statistics. 

Considering the large-scale displacement of Ukrainians since February 2022 and the impact this had on 2022 ODA figures, the OECD sent a survey to members in March 2023 to collect information on their methodologies for calculating ODA in-donor refugee costs in relation to Ukrainian refugees. Read a summary of findings.

DAC member profiles on ODA in-donor refugee costs

DAC members adjusted their methodologies for calculating in-donor refugee costs in ODA to be in line with the five clarifications. Members are encouraged to follow a conservative approach for counting theses costs, given the potential impact on development co-operation budgets. 

Compare DAC members’ methodologies for reporting in-donor refugee costs in ODA with our comparison tool.