This Week: A Record Year of Spending, Aid Agencies Seek to Improve Results

A Guardian report released last week highlighted 2013 as a record year in global humanitarian aid and spending, with a 20% increase in both public and private donations. Despite applauding the international community for its efforts, authors Andersen and Galatsidas point to “stark disparities in the scale of response” across the globe. International assistance from the U.S., U.K., Turkey, and Japan increased by 400% from 2012-2013, while Brazil, China and Russia have cut their spending by 95%, 84% and 45%, respectively. Australia comes in at the bottom of the ranks, decreasing their assistance spending by 98% in the same period. Such spending cuts diminish the efforts of more robust donors, leaving “a number of crises forgotten [and]…de-prioritised.”

Increase of International Humanitarian Response, 2008-2013

Representatives from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, DFID, AusAID, and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade met last week at the Global Development Network’s 15th annual Global Development Conference in Accra, Ghana. Celestin Monga, Economic Adviser to the World Bank’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, explained to Devex that officials were frustrated by lack of economic growth in Africa as a result of “bad ideas” and inability of countries to take ownership, rather than “popular explanations like bad leadership, poor institutions and corruption.”

Some actors in the development community are beginning to address these shortcomings with new initiatives to improve results.

Last week, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop revealed a “New Aid Paradigm” outlining changes in the structure and allocation of Australia’s $5 billion aid budget. The plan includes performance benchmarks for each country receiving Official Development Assistance, the creation of a Development Innovation hub, and an overall “pivot to the Indo-Pacific” region.

USAID hosted a forum, Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths, bringing together representatives from the governments of Ethiopia and India, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to discuss ways to alleviate preventable child and maternal deaths in 24 countries. During the segment on “Doing Things Differently at USAID,” USAID Administrator Raj Shah announced the reallocation of $2.9 billion towards saving 500,000 lives by 2020. Shah’s announcement included a commitment to recommendations made by a panel including Ray Chambers, UN Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals and Malaria, various experts in development, health, and business, with bipartisan support from an array of former Congressional representatives.

Akela Lacy works with the AidData Policy and Communications team and is a student at the College of William & Mary.

Tags: This WeekaidUSAIDDFIDaid effectivenessUNICEF