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UK leadership helps to end falls in global aid - But aid to Africa continues to drop and only five donors achieve 0.7% promise

Posted by Sarah Dransfield Senior Press Officer

8th Apr 2014

UK leadership in tackling global poverty has helped to encourage other donor countries to step up to the plate and deliver big increases in aid, Oxfam said today. 

The international agency was responding to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which show that donors bucked the recent trend of declining aid levels, to reach $134.8 billion (over £81 billion) for 2013.  

Oxfam welcomed this year's aid increase which follows two years of worrying cuts. It praised the UK's leadership, which it said had shown other countries it is possible to meet promises to the world's poorest even during tough economic times. In 2012 aid fell by an alarming £5.5 billion compared with 2011, the biggest drop in aid spending seen for fifteen years. 

Oxfam's head of UK campaigns and policy Sally Copley said: "It's a good sign that aid levels are picking up again, especially after some dramatic falls. At a time when there is so much need, donors need to ensure the poorest countries get a steady commitment to make a difference.

"The UK is showing real leadership in helping world's poorest people. In keeping its promise first made back in the 1970's, the UK government is helping save and improve millions of lives in the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world."

However, Oxfam is alarmed that global aid to sub-Saharan African countries continues to fall and that the OECD believes that this trend is likely to continue. Aid to Africa dropped 5.6 percent to just £17 billion - back to the level it was 10 years ago.

Sally Copley said: "The overall global aid figure seems to have been beefed up by significant increases from donors such as Russia, Turkey and UAE and much of it likely going to crisis-hit countries in the Middle East. This aid is vital and much needed. But we cannot allow an increase in global development aid to obscure the fact that the neediest countries in other continents - like Africa - are losing out."

Oxfam noted that despite the record aid levels, still only five donor countries have achieved the promise of 0.7 percent of their Gross National Income - Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and now also the UK. 

The OECD said 17 of its 'Development Assistance Committee' members, including Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain as well as the UK, had increased their aid while 11 reported a decrease. Those 11 included France (-9.8%), Canada (-11.4%), Belgium (-6.1%), Ireland 1.9%), Netherlands (-6.2%), Australia (-4.5%) and New Zealand (although NZ's 1% drop was due to its increasing aid program being off-set by inflation, the OECD says).

Sally Copley said: "Despite the financial crisis we live in an era where many are enjoying unprecedented global riches. It's shameful that some of the wealthiest countries - with the UK as a notable exception - are still failing to meet agreed minimum aid levels needed to end poverty and reduce inequality."

Oxfam says the large number of current emergencies means aid is needed now more than ever - from the millions whose lives were devastated by the Philippines typhoon to the growing humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Central African Republic and the ongoing conflict in Syria. 

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

Blog post written by Sarah Dransfield

Senior Press Officer

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