Peer reviews of DAC members

Spain’s development aid much improved, but still needs more focus


09/01/2012 - Though the economic crisis has forced Spain to cut public spending in the past year, including to development co-operation, its aid has almost doubled since 2003. In addition to this higher quantity, the OECD’s Review of the Development Co-operation Policies and Programmes of Spain commends the improved quality of its development co-operation programmes.

Spain increased aid from 0.23% of its national wealth in 2003 to 0.46% in 2009, before cutting it to 0.43% - or USD 5.9 billion in 2010. The world’s 7th largest donor by volume, Spain still has plans to meet the international target of committing 0.7% of its gross national income to development aid. 

The government, backed by strong cross-party and public support, is committed to fighting poverty in developing countries and has based its policies on a commitment to making aid more effective. Spain has recruited staff to cope efficiently with the higher levels of aid, strengthened its humanitarian assistance programme, and developed frameworks to work more effectively with its recipient partner countries, multilateral agencies and the private sector. At the same time it has gained valuable experience in developing capacity in Middle-Income Countries and should share its knowledge with other donors.

As well as noting the strengths of Spanish aid, the Review makes recommendations for further improvement:

  • Over the past few years Spain has reduced – from 56 to 50 - the number of countries to which it gives aid, but the funding is still spread too thinly over too many countries. Spain could ensure greater development impact by giving to fewer countries and focussing on their poorest people.
  • Almost 20% of Spanish aid is delivered by regional governments which work with sub-national levels of developing countries. Though this contributes to development at the local level, national authorities of Spain and partner countries must be informed about their activities.
  • Spanish co-operation has a strong relationship with its civil society and channels a significant portion of its development aid through NGOs. This could be improved through a clear policy on when, why and how NGOs should be involved in official development co-operation.
  • As Spain wants to ensure that its domestic and foreign policies support, or at least do not undermine, development objectives of partner countries, the Review suggests strengthening its capacity to analyse the impact of these policies on development.
  • The Review recommends that Spain, in line with other members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (which groups the world’s major donors), further untie its aid. Spain still ties 23% of its aid to least developed and highly indebted poor countries, compared to the DAC average of 6%. 
  • Spain has redesigned its development programme to make aid more effective in its developing partner countries. To measure success - whether aid is helping build sustainable economies and lifting people out of poverty - Spain should have clearer indicators to monitor development results. 

For more information on Spain’s development policies and programmes, journalists can contact Elisabeth Cardoso Jordao in the OECD’s Development Co-operation directorate: or by phone +33 (0) 1 45 24 92 57.

>> More information about OECD’s work on development is available at:
>> Further information about the Spain peer review  is available at:


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