21st Century Aid: Stats and Report

Aid plays a role in saving millions of lives. Recently, a barrage of criticism has been unleashed on aid, with critics using individual examples of failed aid to argue that all aid is bad and should be reduced or phased out altogether. This is both incorrect and irresponsible. This report examines the evidence, and finds that whilst there is much room for improvement, good quality 21st century aid not only saves lives, but is indispensable in unlocking poor countries’ and people’s ability to work their own way out of poverty.

21st century aid: Recognising success and tackling failure

Progress on the MDGs

  • There are 33 million more children in the classroom, partly as a result of increased resources to developing country governments over the past decade from aid and debt relief.
  • There has been a ten-fold increase in the coverage of antiretroviral treatment (ART) for HIV and AIDS over a five-year time span.
  • In Zambia, there are more than 60 times more people on lifesaving ART.
  • As recently as 2007, nine million children under the age of five died from largely preventable diseases.
  • On current projections, MDG 4, which aims to reduce deaths of children under the age of five by two-thirds, will not be met until 2045.•    Every year, 350,000 women and girls die as a result of complications due to child bearing – the vast majority of them in developing countries.
  • In 2009 donors provided only a fraction more in aid (0.7%) keeping them way off track on their commitments
  • 2009 saw aid levels falling from over half of the rich country OECD DAC members (Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, NL, NZ, Portugal, Spain)
  • The shortfall of aid that has not been provided since 1970, when governments first committed to the 0.7 per cent figure, now amounts to over $3 trillion.
  • In 2008, the only countries to reach or exceed the UN target were Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
  • If governments had provided what they committed to in 1970, extreme poverty (at 2005 levels) could now have been ended 22 times over.
  • On current trends, donors will not hit 0.7 per cent until 2050.
  • Without vast increases in the aid being provided currently, Germany will not reach 0.7 per cent before 2027, and the USA until around 2055.
  • The World Bank has recently forecast that 50,000 more children in Sub-Saharan African countries may have died this year because of the financial crisis
  • Research shows that estimates that low-income countries are facing a financing gap of $32 billion as a result of the crisis
  • The International Monetary Fund estimates that Foreign Direct Investment will fall by 25% in 2010 because of weak GDP growth in advanced economies and overall weak conditions in the global economy.
  • In 2009 the total number of hungry people worldwide was projected to reach a historic high of 1,020 million.

Canada stats

  • In 2009 Canada spent $4 billion on aid
  • Sweden spent four times more on aid per person that Canada
  • The UK spends 50% more per person on aid than Canada
  • Canada is 15th in a line up of OECD DAC country donors on providing aid as a percentage of GNI
  • Aid is down almost 10% in 2009 from 2008
  • Canada spends almost four times on military per capita than what it spends on aid
  • In 2009, Canada only spent double on aid, what it spent on bottled water


  • Belgium’s aid has increased this year to 0.55% from 0.48% in 2008.
  • However, Belgium spent $402 USD per person on military compared with $242 on aid
  • Belgium has pledged to hit the target of providing 0.7% of GNI in aid, next year, in 2010


  • France has increased its aid from 0.39% in 2008 to 0.46 in 2009, going up from $10.9 to $12.4 billion
  • In 2009 France spent $200 on aid per person. In 2008 the Government spent more than four times that ($845) per person on military expenditure


  • Germany spent $11,982 billion on aid in 2009. By contrast Germans spent 14.6bn Euros on premium larger in 2009
  • In 2009 German aid fell by 12%, from 0.38 in 2008 to 0.35% in 2009
  • Germany spent on military over 3 times what it spent on aid in 2009
  • On current trends Germany won’t meet 0.7% until 2027


  • Ireland saw a huge drop of 18.9% in its aid levels from 2008, from $1.3 billion in 2008 down to $1billion in 2009
  • Ireland’s military spending per person remains just $40 dollars above its per person spend on aid


  • Italian aid fell by 31% from 0.22 in 2008 to 0.16% in 2009, and is now only $3.3 billion
  • Italians spent 13.2bn Euros on wine in 2009,  almost 10 billion more than they spent on aid
  • Italian military spend per person is around ten times what it spends on aid
  • Italy came almost bottom of the list of DAC donors, giving 0.16% of its GNI in aid this year, just above Korea, the newest DAC donor and beneficiary of aid itself in previous decades
  • On tied aid: in 2007, the Italian government sent 80 tonnes worth of Parmesan cheese worth 700,000 euros to Armenia and Georgia


  • Aid from the Netherlands rose slightly as a percentage of the economy from 0.80% to 0.82%, but actual spend fell by nearly $600 million.
  • The Netherlands spent nearly $10 billion on military spending in 2008 or $600 USD per person. This compares with $391 spending on aid per person in 2009


  • Spain rose from 0.45% to 0.46% as a percentage of GNI but it’s actual spend fell by 1.2%, a disappointing record for the member state holding the Presidency of the European Union, which meant that in 2009 it spent over $200 million less than 2008.
  • Spain spent over twice as much on military spending per person as it did on aid
  • In total Spain spent $6.5 billion on aid in 2009. By contrast, Spain spent 1.4bn Euros on ice cream in 2009


  • The UK remains on target for its aid commitments, reporting a jump from 0.43% in 2008 to 0.52% in 2009
  • In 2009 the UK provided $11.5 billion in aid
  • However, the UK still spends around five times on military per person what it spends on aid


  • Aid from Australia also fell by 1.4% respectively
  • Australia spent 2.6bn $AUS on domestic premium larger in 2009
  • Australia spent around 7 times the amount of money on military per person as it spent on aid


  • Japanese aid fell by 10.2% from 0.19 in 2008 to 0.18% in 2009 and is now just under $9.5 billion
  • By contrast, in 2009, Japan spent 408bn Yen on dog and cat food in 2009
  • Japan spends around a quarter on aid per person of what it spends on the military

New Zealand

  • Aid from New Zealand fell by 3.2%.
  • Consumer spending on wine in New Zealand in 2009 was 1.8bn $NZ
  • New Zealand spends over four times as much on military per person as it does on aid


  • US aid registered a small increase from 0.19% to 0.20%
  • In total, the US spent $28.6 billion on aid in 2009
  • On current trajectories the US will not meet 0.7% until 2055, eighty-five years after the commitment was made
Publication Date: 
June 2010