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Most money does not go to poorest countries, U.S. not so generous

Staff writer ▼ | January 9, 2016
OECD compiles data from its member states about their foreign aid spending: how much it is, and where it goes? OECD released their compilations from 2014 (it takes about a full year to collect and analyze all the data).
Afghanistan street
Foreign aid   OECD compiles data from its member states
The top line finding: foreign aid from OECD members reached an all time high in 2014, totaling $137 billion. This is equivalent of 0.3% of these donors collective gross national income, Mark Leon Goldberg writes for UN Dispatch.

To put this in perspective, $137 billion is about one-sixth of the U.S. Department of Defense Budget for FY 2016.

As in years past, the USA was by far the single largest international donor in overall terms. But when you adjust for the countries’ gross national income, the USA is toward the bottom of the pack in terms of generosity. Scandinavian countries and also the UK and Luxembourg are pound-for-pound the most generous donors of international aid.

The report finds that Afghanistan is the largest single recipient of aid at $4.8 billion. This should not be terribly surprising as many of these OECD countries are NATO members who were actively involved in military and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The next two largest recipients are Vietnam and Syria–which may be surprising.

Syria, is of course, embroiled in a civil war. I suspect that most of the “aid” to Syria is actually humanitarian aid, Mark Leon Goldberg writes.

For its part, Vietnam receives a ton of aid from Japan, even though its considered a “middle income” country. Most of that is earmarked for infrastructure development.

Contrary to popular perception, most money earmarked for foreign aid goes not to the poorest countries on the planet – the so-called “least developed countries” — but to countries that the World Bank classifies as middle income. This report finds that total official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries amounted to $43.7 billion, or less than a third of the total.

The advocacy community has been trying to reverse this trend, and ensure that more aid goes to countries that need it the most.