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Donor aid plummeting, despite UK commitments

Posted by Sarah Dransfield Senior Press Officer

3rd Apr 2013

Oxfam is warning that international aid to poorer countries has become the latest victim of the financial crisis, which could leave hundreds of thousands of people without life-saving food and medicines.

Despite the UK's pledge to lead the way in meeting its aid commitments, figures from The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), released today, show that aid fell by over £5.5 billion in 2012. This represents the largest fall in aid since 1997, shattering the promises made by most rich countries to give 0.7 per cent of their national income to the poorest. 

Huge cuts were made by Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal, the countries most impacted by the Euro Zone crisis. Whilst aid from the USA, Germany and Japan has also been cut the UK, by contrast, has budgeted to meet the 0.7 target this year, despite having been in economic recession. Denmark, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden continue to meet their pledge to give more than 0.7 per cent of national income in aid. This proves that keeping aid promises to poor countries is, for some, a political choice rather than a fiscal necessity. 

Oxfam's Head of Development Finance and Public Services, Emma Seery, said: "The UK government has shown it is possible to keep aid promises even in the toughest economic times.  Political will is crucial, especially as it is now clear that the Euro Zone crisis is having a devastating knock-on effect on some of the world's poorest people." 

Against the backdrop of the crumbling of the 0.7 per cent aid goal and the ongoing Euro Zone crisis innovative tools for development financing are absolutely critical. Oxfam is calling for a crackdown on tax dodging that drains billions out of poor countries annually and a financial transaction tax (FTT) to help poor people hit by the economic crisis at home and in the poorest countries. 

Emma Seery added: "The international community can no longer stand by as tax dodging takes billions from the pockets of ordinary people everywhere, and the urgency for a Robin Hood Tax could not be greater.

"Aid is literally lifesaving for millions of people, and extends a lifeline to millions more.  The tiny percentage of donor budgets promised, could save hundreds of thousands of families who are going hungry, provide people with clean drinking water, and get mothers into hospitals to give birth safely." 

£40 million could provide more than 1 million people access to clean drinking water in Mozambique, where just 5 per cent of the rural population have access to clean water - the same amount that London-based Barclays bank paid nine senior executives in bonuses this year.


For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Sarah Dransfield, Oxfam Press Officer, on: 01865 472269, 07767 085636 or email:

Notes to Editors
Figures are available from the OECD:

Blog post written by Sarah Dransfield

Senior Press Officer

More by Sarah Dransfield