While rich countries are often singled out for missing their development aid funding targets, a new report by the anti-poverty group ONE found that developing countries also fail to hold up their end of the deal. EURACTIV Germany and EURACTIV France report.
The ONE data report for 2014, “Fighting poverty and financing Africa’s future”, investigates Official Development Aid (ODA) contributed by G8 states and the European Union.
The report, published on Monday (6 October), measures where rich countries stand in their pledge to contribute 0.7% of Gross National Income to development aid.
“Official development assistance rebounded in 2013, but most donors have not made good on their aid commitments, and are not channeling a high enough proportion of aid to the poorest countries,” the report indicates.
The total proportion of rich countries’ GNI allocated to development aid reached only 0.29% in 2013, falling a long way short of the objective of 0.7% set by the United Nations. The European Union’s performance is above average, with 0.42%, but it remains well below the target.
The figures for Germany illustrate a downward trend in ODA, which has become widespread across Europe since the 2008 financial crisis.
German development aid to Africa decreased by 13.9% in 2013, while funding for sub-Saharan Africa fell by as much as 17.4%. Overall German contributions to development aid have risen by 6.6% but the country’s development budget is currently stagnating at 0.37% of GNI.
France’s aid budget reduction of 3.3% between 2012 and 2013 places the country in the less impressive company of Portugal (-20.4%) and the Netherlands (-5.2%), neither of whom will achieve the 2015 objective of 0.7%.
Poorest countries neglected
The report criticises donors for only allocating one third of emergency aid to the poorest countries.
Overall in 2012, the donors of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee only dedicated 0.09% of their combined GNI to aiding the least developed countries, far below the UN’s objective of 0.15-0.20%. Only eight countries reached this objective.
The rules need revising
If development aid appears to not be a political priority of all EU member states, the report also singles out antiquated rules for the calculation of development aid for revision.
The report says that since 2008, one 6th of the total aid recorded by European countries (188 billion euros), has not been transferred to developing countries.
Donor countries have been known to record debt relief programmes, or even funds, used within the donor country itself, as development aid.
France, for example, records the cost of receiving foreign students and political refugees in its development aid figures. An estimated 28% of French development aid never leaves the country.
>> Read: FACTCHECKING: Does development aid go to developing countries? (in French)
In 2012, the United Kingdom recorded its pension payments to former colonial officers as development aid.
African countries also at fault
More surprisingly, however, the ONE data report also indicates that most African countries do not fulfill their own pledges.
Sipho Moyo, Africa Director at ONE, explained why it was important that recipient countries reserve a certain portion of their budgets for certain sectors especially relevant to development.
“The main goal of public expenditures in African states must be to dismantle extreme poverty. To do this, investment in agriculture is an important tool to create value-added chains as the basis for employment and sustainable economic business models. Investment in health is equally important to construct robust healthcare systems, so that crises like the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa are not allowed to take hold,” Moyo said.
Only 6 of the 43 countries south of the Sahara that were evaluated have adhered to their financing goals for the healthcare sector, the report says. Between 2010 and 2012, an additional $54.8 billion could have been mobilised if the countries had kept up with their healthcare pledges, ONE calculated.
From 2008 to 2010, only 8 of 41 countries in sub-Saharan Africa fulfilled their commitment to invest 10% of their national budget in agriculture. From 2010 to 2013, only one of 33 countries in sub-Saharan Africa contributed the pledged 9% of GNI to education. Only 10 countries reached the UNESCO goal to invest 20% of their national budget in education.
The education sector suffered the worst neglect between 2010 and 2013, with only one sub-Saharan African country out of 33 respecting its Dakar commitment to invest 9% of GDP in this sector.
But the report also points out that a “consistent and comparable” analysis of pledges by African countries is impossible due to “poor budget records” in most countries south of the Sahara.