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Official development assistance (ODA) is increasing, but not at the rate it needs to

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Official development assistance (ODA) and partnerships are crucial for the world to succeed in delivering opportunities for lower-to-middle income countries. That is what SDG 17 stands for: a revitalization of global aid as a catalyst for progress – a condition that relies heavily on large (and continuous) movements of resources from higher-income countries to least-economically-advantaged ones. 

According to the available data, 2022 saw a total of US$211.3 billion being delivered in support for the world’s poorest countries – a significant increase from 2021, year in which the amount of aid stood at US$186 billion.  Nowadays, global aid is at an all-time high. However, this is due to contributions for three specific events: the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the refugees arriving in donor countries. 

If we take a closer look, data shows that resources allocated to other areas would have decreased by 1.2 percent if the contributions made for these unique events – pandemic assistance, in-donor-country refugee support, and direct aid to Ukraine – had not existed.  


Stages of table making


What is the world’s threshold in terms of how many resources are given in official development assistance? SDG 17.2 has set the target for developed economies to allocate 0.7 percent of their GNIs to fund aid for less-wealthy nations across several sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, and others.

As shown by the chart below, the world is far from meeting this goal. Altogether, developed countries would have had to increase their contributions by US$200 billion in order to fulfil this commitment in 2022.


Official development assistance as part of the GNI


Support for the world’s poorest countries in most need of aid – also known as LDCs, or Least Developed Countries – has also fallen short of the goal.

SDG 17.2 states that development aid for LDCs should account for somewhere between 0.15 and 0.20 percent of donor countries’ GNIs. Unfortunately, the gap is widening, as shown in the chart below.


Figure 2. Identified topics (in Tagalog and English online news and social media) missed by phone sur-veys. Source: Peloria


Learn more about ODAs, donor countries, resource flows and sectors aided in the seventeenth story of our 2023 SDG Atlas.


Espen Beer Prydz

Economist, Development Data Group

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