Trends in Foreign Aid
Key Data on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2021
WORK IN PROGRESS
What is Official Development Assistance?
Official Development Assistance (ODA) is defined as government aid to developing countries specifically targeting economic development and welfare.
ODA is the key measurement in aid targets and aid performance. Data on ODA is collected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The data presented below are based on preliminary data for 2021 provided by the 30 member countries of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
Who can receive Official Development Assistance?
A countrys eligibility for receiving ODA is based on per capita income. The DAC publishes a list of eligible countries and territories, which is updated every third year. The table below shows the current list, effective for 2022 and 2023, which counts a total of 140 countries and territories.
The list includes all the Least Developed Countries, as defined by the United Nations, as well as other low and middle income countries below a certain threshold of gross national income.
Note that countributions to selected international organisations, such as NGOs and multilateral organisations, may also be reported as ODA.
How much was Official Development Assistance was granted in 2021?
Preliminary data shows that official development assistance totaled USD 179 billion in 2021.
The United States was the largest donating country of official development assistance in 2021, followed by Germany and Japan. The EU institutions where the third largest provider of official development assistance in 2021.
Italy, Korea and Slovenia saw the largest increase in ODA from 2020 to 2021, while Greece, UK and Sweden saw the larges decrease.
How much was given as percentage of donor gross national income?
The UN target stipulates that countries should spend 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA).
The preliminary data for 2021 shows that only 5 countries hit the UN 0.7% aid spending target in 2021.
The five countries who met or exceeded this target in 2021 were Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Denmark.
How has official development assistance evolved over time?
Data on Official Development Assistance (ODA) has been tracked for over 50 years. The first graph below shows the total amount of ODA from 1960 to 2021, in real terms to adjust for inflation and exchange rate fluctuations.
Compared to 2000, ODA has more than doubled in real terms. Total ODA reached a record high level in 2021, increasing by 4.4% from 2020.
Yet, as percent of donors gross national income, it remained stable at 0.33%. As the second figure below shows, there has been only marginal progress over the last few years on reaching the UN 0.7% aid spending target.
Evolution of official development by donor country
How much of ODA was COVID-19 related?
In 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 assistance made up a significant share of the Official Development Assistance.
In 2020 donors spent a total of USD 16.6 billion on COVID-19 related activities, increasing to 18.7 billion in 2021. In 2021, this accounted for over 10% of all ODA.
In addition, donations in the form of COVID-19 vaccines amounted to USD 6.3 billion in 2021, an amount which equates to nearly 857 million vaccine doses.