Official development aid grows, but not enough to meet goals

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An UN report, published in on July 12, 2006.

Donor countries’ official development assistance (ODA) to poorer nations has grown markedly in the past few years due to various relief efforts, but funding to meet international development goals has actually dropped off, according to a report presented today to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva.

“The drop in ODA (excluding special purpose grants) leads to less ODA available as a source of budgetary resources, thereby limiting the efforts of developing countries to pursue the goals,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a note conveying a statistical review of trends in development cooperation.

“The trend must be reversed,” he maintains.

The report recalls that during the early 1990s, the ODA share of donor countries’ gross national income shrank to a low of 0.21 per cent, but the pledges made by donors to increase such aid at the International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico in 2000, stemmed the fall.

By 2005 ODA had recovered to reach a high of $106.5 billion, with the share of ODA to gross national income equal to 0.33 per cent. Aid for development programmes and projects recorded the largest increase in many years, the report says.

It points out, however, that the recent recovery in aid flows has been mainly the result of debt relief for Iraq and Nigeria and emergency aid to the tsunami-affected countries in the Indian Ocean.

Aid toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of targets agreed upon at the 2000 World Summit to reduce extreme poverty and other global ills by the year 2015, falls far short of the estimated $150 billion projected.

In addition to calling for increased funding targeting to the MDGs, Mr. Annan also advocates putting fewer conditions on the use of ODA by developing countries, so that they can take a greater degree of “ownership” in their own development programmes.

Introducing the report at the ECOSOC session in Geneva today, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs José Antonio Ocampo said the timing of the ODA review is particularly significant, since efforts are now underway to establish a forum for development cooperation attached to ECOSOC, as called for by the 2005 World Summit.

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