It’s not enough and it's not ODA
It’s not enough and it's not ODA: with global crises growing in scale and severity, ODA levels must match increasing needs for sustainable development
Today, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced that over the course of 2022 the members of the Development Assistance Committee allocated USD 204 Billion to Official Development Assistance (ODA) and confirmed the anticipated significant impact of the war in Ukraine on aid allocations. The figures again fall well short of key targets of 0.7%/GNI and .15-.2%/GNI to LDCs.
The impact is due both to the redirection of ODA to the humanitarian response in Ukraine, reconstruction and recovery and the substantial increase of in-donor country refugee costs across DAC countries which amounted to 14.4% of ODA in 2022. These figures have reached their highest level ever in 2022 and highlight very substantial impacts on aid resulting from in-donor refugee costs in support of Ukrainian refugees in European countries. Counting in-donor refugee costs is voluntary in DAC statistical reporting of ODA yet 28 out of 30 DAC members reported already scarce ODA resources spent on hosting refugees in their countries. Countries can and should support the reception of refugees and asylum seekers, but the budgetary costs should be covered through alternative financing and budget sources to the ones already allocated to ODA. CSOs have long argued that the human rights obligations of all states to receive refugees should not be used as an excuse for aid providers to spend development budgets at home, inflating aid and reducing vital resources for people living in poverty globally.
The scale of the conflict in Ukraine and the massive displacement it has caused require a large-scale humanitarian response as well as longer-term investments and reconstruction efforts. While the international donor community has demonstrated timely and comprehensive support to Ukraine, crises elsewhere driven by poverty, poor governance, climate change, inequality and conflict continue and deepen with far less attention and support, both financially and politically.
The significant redirection of development assistance from poverty reduction, resilience, peacebuilding, and climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in the world’s poorest and most fragile contexts towards refugee costs in DAC member states is a complete departure from ODA’s core objective of measuring donor efforts that contribute to sustainable development in developing countries. It risks undermining long-term development efforts, leaving marginalised people behind, and can have long-lasting global implications, including for peace and stability.
ODA levels must match increasing needs and reflect a corresponding solidarity with marginalised people across the world.
Support for Ukraine and countries affected by Russia’s invasion does require massive resources for many years, with the World Bank recently estimating reconstruction cost alone at $411 billion over the next ten years (and growing). To put this amount into perspective, total humanitarian and development support for Afghanistan from DAC and multilateral donors, also a major foreign policy driver for ODA at the time, was $53 billion between the ten-year period, 2007 and 2016.
Ukraine is a lower middle-income country, eligible for ODA. But in the context of a war the scale of which is unprecedented in modern times, CSOs are deeply concerned about how urgent development and humanitarian finance priorities for other developing countries will be negatively affected by massive increases in ODA to address Ukraine’s reconstruction. In order to achieve the SDGs, as the climate emergency continues its devastating impacts on people living in vulnerable situations, donors must not only maintain current levels of ODA, but substantially ramp up additional support for these purposes, over and above resources needed to address Ukraine reconstruction.
During the period of active warfare in Ukraine, the DAC must also monitor closely what aid is being included, consistent with prior DAC agreements on ODA eligibility for peace and security expenditures.
Heightened transparency on the inclusion of support for Ukraine in ODA now and in future years is essential. Among several possible ways to approach transparency, DAC members might consider a proposal to create an Eastern Europe Assistance Tracker separate from reporting ODA flows. This Tracker would report all current and future humanitarian, development, fiscal and refugee support for Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe affected by Russia’s invasion.
Such a Tracker would recognise the importance of aid to Ukraine, its eligibility as an ODA recipient, but could be important in ensuring ODA for other purposes remains on track and that donors stay accountable to their multiple commitments to development aid and climate finance targets. There is a DAC precedent for such a Tracker in the DAC agreement in 1992 to create an ‘Official Aid’ designation for aid to countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, several of whom were ODA-eligible countries, including Ukraine. At that time, there were similar concerns among DAC members about the implications for other development purposes, following the massive increase of aid to Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This system worked well until 2004, and the DAC should consider reintroducing it now.
To date this statement has been endorsed by the following organisations and networks:
ACT Alliance EU, Europe
Act Church of Sweden, Sweden
ActionAid International Global
AidWatch Canada, Canada
Alliance Sud, Switzerland
Ambrela - Platform for development organisations, Slovakia
Arab NGO Network for Development, Regional
Associação para a Cooperação Entre os Povos, Portugal
Association pour l'Integration et le Developpement Durable au Burundi, AIDB, Burundi
CAFSO-WRAG for Development, Nigeria
Caritas Europa, Europe
Center for Good Governance and Peace (CGGAP), Nepal
Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, India
Centre national de coopération au développement CNCD-11.11.11, Belgium
Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS), Global
Coastal Development Partnership, Bangladesh
Commonwealth Medical Trust (Commat), UK
Council for People's Development and Governance, Philippines
Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity (CROSOL), Croatia
CSO Partnerhsip for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), Global
European Network for Debt and Development (Eurodad), European
FIAN Sri Lanka/ Sri Lanka Nature Group, Sri Lanka
Forum of women's NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan
Gender Lab, Ghana
Global Policy Forum Europe, Germany
IBON International, Global
Indigenous Peoples Global Forum for Sustainable Development, IPGFforSD, Global
Inter Pares, Canada
Lithuanian NGDO Platform, Lithuania
Nash Vek Public Foundation, Kyrgyzstan
Network for Women's Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), Ghana
North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS), India
Oxfam International, Global
Reality of Aid - Africa, Regional
Reality of Aid - Asia Pacific, Asia Pacific
Save the Children, Global
SMC - Faith in development, Sweden
The Hunger Project, Germany
The Reality of Aid Network, Global
Universal Versatile Society, India
Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, India
Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE), Bangladesh
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network (WASH-Net),Sierra Leone