New OECD figures show international aid woefully inadequate to fight the coronavirus crisis, says Oxfam

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International aid rose by just 1.4 percent overall in 2019, while humanitarian assistance was cut by 2.9 percent, according to figures published today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Katy Chakrabortty, Oxfam Head of Advocacy, said:

“Never has aid been more needed, and the UK’s continued commitment to lifesaving aid is something we can all be proud of. The UK can and should remain a leader in this area, able to influence other governments to meet their commitments in this shared global struggle against the coronavirus.

“The UN estimate that developing countries need USD 500 billion in increased life-saving aid now to have hope of protecting people from the coronavirus. Other rich countries should follow the UK’s lead and contribute their fair share by immediately injecting an additional USD 300 billion to fight the virus as well as providing urgent debt relief to the poorest countries.

“Donors need to prioritise emergency support to the under-funded and ill-equipped public health systems in poor countries. They should also help countries improve social protection and provide direct support to people in need so they can deal with illnesses and income loss. This is particularly vital for women, who often have limited employment rights and are far more likely to be informal workers without any social protection. In 2018, less than one percent of aid was invested in social protection while more than four billion people don’t have formal social protection.


Notes to editors:

  • The 2019 aid figures are available on the OECD website.
  • Slight increase in development aid: The new OECD data shows that overall aid spending from 30 OECD members totalled USD 152.8 billion in 2019. This was a 1.4 percent increase from 2018. Rich countries only committed 0.30 percent of their gross national income (GNI) to development aid, down from 0.31 percent in 2018, and well below the 0.7 percent they promised back in 1970. In 2019, just five countries – Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom – have lived up to this promise.
  • Slight increase in aid to the poorest countries: The proportion of bilateral aid spent in low income countries was up by 0.4 percent. The coronavirus will most likely have a devastating impact in developing countries.
  • With limited resources, high debt levels, massive capital outflows and weak, underfunded and unequal health systems, poor countries are ill-equipped to protect their populations and their economies. Without urgent action, the economic, social and health toll in these countries will be incomparably devastating. The recent Oxfam report ‘Dignity not Destitution’ found that the economic fallout of the pandemic could force half a billion people into poverty unless dramatic action is taken. This could set back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa.
  • UN estimates developing countries need USD 500bn in aid to face the Coronavirus
    On 30 March 2020, the UN called for a USD 2.5 trillion coronavirus crisis package for developing countries. This includes: a USD 1 trillion liquidity injections to be made available through the expanded use of special drawing rights; the cancellation of USD 1 trillion of debts owed by developing countries this year; and USD 500 billion in overseas aid to fund a Marshall Plan for health recovery and dispersed as grants.
  • Methodology for calculating rich countries’ fair share of the coronavirus aid response: Oxfam bases its calculation of fair share on donors’ gross national income (GNI). The members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) together account for 59% of total global GNI, so their collective fair share of any appeal or aid pledging target is 59%. The fair share of any individual DAC member is their GNI divided by the DAC collective GNI and multiplied by the DAC fair share.

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