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The COVID-19 Pandemic And Related Crises Call For Higher Levels Of ODA

Today, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced that over the course of 2020 DAC donors allocated 161.2 billion USD of official development assistance (ODA), more commonly known as ‘development aid’. Despite the long-standing commitment to contribute 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) towards ODA, the 2020 figures show that only 32 cents for every $100 in national income was allocated to addressing global development and humanitarian challenges. Such low ODA levels are both economically unwise and morally flawed, given the current pandemic and interconnected crises, including climate change, conflict, fragility, and rising poverty and inequalities.

COVID-19 is not a fleeting crisis – it has already left a lasting impact on all aspects of our societies, disrupting 25 years of global progress against poverty and inequalities in a matter of months. The world’s most marginalised are disproportionately affected. COVID-19 is pushing an estimated 150 million people into extreme poverty, and 137 million to the brink of starvation, representing an increase of over 80% in acute hunger since before the pandemic began.

Before the pandemic, donors were already off-track to achieve their international aid commitments. The consequences of COVID-19 requires the DAC community to considerably increase its ODA levels. ODA is a vital resource for supporting those most in need to help counter the negative trends coming from the pandemic, compounded by the climate emergency and persisting conflicts and fragility. In 2020, DAC donors prioritised their national responses towards COVID at the expense of international aid. This 2021, a substantial and immediate increase in ODA levels must be the top priority to ensure the achievement of the 2030 Agenda on time. Now is the time to move beyond mainly protecting existing aid budgets as the released figures show.

76 civil society organisations across the world are calling on DAC members to fulfill and exceed the 0.7% target for ODA and the 0.15% to 0.2% target for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), prioritising unconditional grants and technical support. We urge the DAC to work with the experience of partner countries, DAC members and other stakeholders to ramp up the role of aid in support of health, education, social protection, peacebuilding, and conflict prevention in the midst of this unfinished crisis. Furthermore, we call on donors to uphold the integrity of ODA, building on decades of lessons for effective development cooperation, and to uphold human rights and development effectiveness principles.

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