UK should keep foreign aid at commendable 0.7% level, says OECD


17/12/2014 - The United Kingdom has done well to increase its development spending to 0.72% of gross national income despite a challenging budget climate and should strive to maintain that level of aid for the years ahead, according to a new OECD Review.


In its latest Peer Review of the United Kingdom, the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) notes that raising its official development assistance (ODA) by 30.5% to GBP 11.4 billion in 2013 made the UK the world’s No. 2 donor by aid volume after the United States. The UK is the first major economy to meet the 0.7% target agreed by international donors in 1970. The average ODA/GNI ratio among DAC members is 0.30%.


The scaling-up of the UK’s aid budget was planned in a way that should ensure the extra money was well spent and had the greatest possible impact, according to the Review.


The Review also praised the UK for its focus on the neediest countries, including fragile and conflict-affected states such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. In 2012 the UK allocated 0.19% of its GNI to the least-developed countries, above a UN goal of 0.15%, and with more than half of its bilateral ODA that year going to sub-Saharan Africa.


The Department for International Development’s (DFID) focus on social infrastructure and services reflects the UK’s emphasis on meeting the Millennium Development Goals, it said.


“The UK has remained committed to fighting global poverty despite its own economic crisis and has fulfilled its promise to spend 0.7% of its GNI on development aid. This is an impressive achievement and shows that a persistent political will can bring ambitious goals within reach,” said DAC Chair Erik Solheim.


The UK could do more, however, to bring a development dimension into the government’s broader work by drawing on capacities in other departments to support aid programmes. It could also step up its efforts to ensure that domestic and foreign policies in areas like defence and migration support its development work and do more to monitor these efforts – an area where the UK’s performance has not improved since 2010, according to the Review.


The Review found that the UK fully implemented 15 out of 19 recommendations in the 2010 Review, such as putting a stronger emphasis on producing more and better evidence about what works in development to help achieve better value for money. The UK should now work on simplifying some of the more cumbersome operational procedures within DFID.


Each DAC member is reviewed every 4-5 years as a way to monitor its performance, hold it accountable for past commitments and recommend improvements. A review uses input from officials in the country being reviewed as well as civil society, the private sector and other donors in recipient countries. Read more here about DAC Peer Reviews.


You can read the full Review here and a summary of findings and recommendations here. For further information, or to speak to the report’s author, journalists are invited to contact Catherine Bremer in the OECD Media Office (+33 1 45 24 80 97.)


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