France - a good donor but must ensure that poor countries get the aid they need


05/07/2013 - France’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) was USD 12.1 billion in 2012, making it the 4th largest member of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee in terms of the volume of aid. However, this represents 0.46% of French Gross National Income (GNI) – below France’s international commitment. The review recommends that France plan to reach the 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio as soon as possible.  


OECD’s review of French aid commends the country’s overall development strategy and its engagement at the global level to promote it, including innovative financing. France focuses in particular on health, environment and climate change, mobilises private investments and promotes greater transparency in international financial transactions. The review recommends, however, that France do more to support civil society organisations and gender equality, and to build stronger capacity for developing countries to manage their own futures. France could also do more to monitor the results of its development efforts.


In line with international standards, France’s aid is largely untied and most of the projects it funds in developing countries are carried out by local partners. It has improved both the predictability of its co-operation and the relationship between the three bodies largely responsible for development: the ministry of Foreign affairs, the ministry of Economy and Finance and the French Development Agency (AFD). However, as many other actors and numerous budget lines are involved in the aid programme, the Committee recommends that France reduce its transaction costs by rationalising the institutional system. The Committee also recommends that France make a special effort to maintain its technical expertise and strengthen its team in the field.


The Committee notes that, since 2008, France has shifted towards providing fewer grants, and more loans, in its ODA portfolio. Loans predominantly support the productive sectors and action to counter climate change in middle income countries. The continuous decrease in the level of grants limits support to social sectors and governance in poor and fragile countries. Extending loans to new partners also means France is active in an increased number of countries. The Committee recommends that France not allow these  trends to compromise its ability to help reduce poverty in poor and fragile countries and notes too that it should ensure an appropriate balance between grants and loans.


France is committed to co-ordinating its humanitarian actions with other donors and with the humanitarian community. However, the review notes that only 0,9% of French ODA is devoted to humanitarian aid. This is much lower than most other donors and the Committee warns that such a limited budget will prevent France from implementing its new humanitarian aid strategy and compromises France’s commitment to global burden sharing.


To receive a copy of the Review of the Development Co-operation Policies and Programmes of France journalists can e-mail


For further information about French aid policies, please contact Chantal Verger in the OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate: phone: + 331 45 24 15 11.


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