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Top Findings 

  • Total net Official Development Assistance (ODA) disbursements grew steadily between 1960 until 1992, when it began to decrease. Disbursements began increasing again in the 2000s.
  • Total net ODA decreased significantly in 2010 due to the economic recession. 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world, receives the largest ODA disbursement as compared with other countries.
  • ODA is given to more middle income countries than low income or lower middle income countries.
  • Egypt, Afghanistan, and Vietnam received the highest total net ODA aid during 2013.
  • Four Asian countries: China, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, and Thailand received negative amounts of ODA in 2013.


Official Development Assistance (1960-2013)

According to the World Bank, Official Development Assistance, otherwise referred to as ODA, is defined as “flows to developing countries on the Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) ‘List of ODA Recipients’” as well as flows to multilateral development institutions that are either provided by “official agencies” or by “state and local governments” and their respective agencies. 

The term “ODA” was first used by the DAC in 1969 and since then it has symbolized the development aid sector. It is important to note, however, that ODA also includes loans and is not simply unconditional. 

This Silk aims to trace the trend of ODA around the world from 1960-2013, the latest available data.

Global Trends. (1960-2013)

Global trends in ODA disbursements show that aid has been increasing since 1960, with minor fluctuations in between. As can be seen through the graph, total ODA disbursements grew steadily between 1960 until 1992, when it began to decrease. According to The Value Chain of Foreign Aid, the downward ODA disbursement trend in the 1990s can be ascribed to “a long-term reduction trend of bilateral aid flows since 1992––or what the author refers to as “aid pessimism.” The decrease of ODA disbursement during the 1990s can also be attributed to the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Israel’s graduation’ from the DAC list; during that period, Israel was receiving a significant amount of ODA from the United States.

Further, ODA disbursements began increasing in the early 2000s. By 2013, total net ODA reached an all-time-high, increasing by 6.1% from the previous year. During 2013, 17 out of the 28 DAC countries reported an increase in their ODA contribution while the remaining countries decreased their contribution.

Trends by Region. (1990-2013)


Total Official Development Aid Received, by Region. (1990-2013)

Source: World Bank



Data regarding total ODA received by region, between 1990-2013, shows fluctuations in ODA disbursements for each region. ODA received by Sub-Saharan Africa has been increasing since 2000. Similarly, aid to the Middle East and North Africa increased during the early 2000s and sharply decreased in 2010, due to the global economic recession. The downward trend during this period can be witnessed in Latin America/Caribbean, East Asia/Pacific, and Europe/Central Asia. Overall, the aforementioned regions receive significantly less ODA than Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. 

Trends by Country Income Bracket. (1990-2013)

Total Official Development Aid Received, by country income bracket. (1990-2013)

Source: World Bank



As demonstrated by the previous graph, Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world, receives the most ODA disbursement in comparison to other countries. However, this does not mean that the neediest Sub-Saharan African countries are the ones receiving the most help. As this graph indicates, middle income countries receive more ODA disbursements than low or lower middle income countries. This trend is worrisome for many. According to OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, “…assistance to some of the neediest countries continues to fall, which is a serious concern.”

Country Statistics

Net ODA Received by Country. (2007-2013)

Net Official Development Assistance and Official Aid Received by Country, in current US$. (2007-2013) 

Source: World Bank.










In 2013, an estimated 137 countries received ODA––from Mexico to Kiribati. 

This map details the net official ODA each country received between 2007-2013. 

Click on each country's location on the map to explore its ODA trends between 2007-2013

Click on each individual country's page to explore its ODA trends from 1960-2013. 



Note: Map only includes countries that received aid in 2013. Countries that did not receive aid in 2013 can still be explored through the datacards above.

Top-10 Countries with Highest Total ODA Received. (2013)

Top-10 Countries with the Highest Official Developmental Assistance, in net total. (2013) 



Source: World Bank.







This bar graph lists the top-10 countries with the highest ODA in 2013. As indicated, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Vietnam received the highest aid during that year. 

As The Value Chain of Foreign Aid reveals, several factors influence the allocation of ODA by donor countries. This includes a donor country’s geographical neighbors, colonial and historical ties, linguistic and ethnic ties, and political and strategic alliances with the recipient country. In terms of the former factor, it may explain the top-2 recepients of total net ODA, which are of strategic importance to many donor countries. 

Top-10 Countries with the Lowest Total ODA Received. (2013)

As mentioned, a number of factors determine which countries receive ODA and the amount that is disbursed into the country. This graph, which indicates the top-10 countries with the lowest ODA, shows that four Asian countries received negative amounts of ODA in 2013––China, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, and Thailand. On the other hand, most of the countries that received an insignificant disbursement of ODA were islands near South America.

Top-10 Countries with the Lowest Official Development Assistance, in net total. (2013) 


Source: World Bank

Top-10 

It is important to note that the figures mentioned above only outline the net ODA received by each country. The tables below, which show the amount, per capita, that each country received, provide a better picture of the data. 


Top-10 Countries with the Highest Official Developmental Assistance, per capita. (2013) 

Source: World Bank.

In the case of the top-10 countries with the highest ODA disbursement per capita, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, and Palau lead the list; all of which are islands with small populations. For the most part, the remaining countries in the list are also islands, with some exceptions––such as the West Bank and Gaza. 


Top-10 Countries with the Lowest Official Developmental Assistance, per capita. (2013) 

Source: World Bank.

In terms of the top-10 countries with the lowest ODA disbursements, the countries listed are somewhat inline with those shown in total net ODA disbursement figures, with countries such as Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Panama. 

One cannot deny that various factors, some of which were discussed earlier, play a role in determining ODA flows around the world. Unfortunately, countries that are most in need often don’t receive the necessary amount of ODA. And at times, countries that receive significant amount of ODA are considered as corrupt––through either misusing, stealing, or wasting aid. 



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