This tool provides you with an overview of the countries in which we spend most aid, and the areas of development – so you can see that last year we spent the most aid in Ethiopia and health was the main area of expenditure…
You can then click through to individual countries, and from there to individual projects, for example this link will take you to an overview of ‘solar Nigeria‘ – a project with a 5 year budget of £66 million to provide solar energy to schools and hospitals.
How do we measure the effectiveness of Aid spending?
NB – knowing where our aid money is spent is not the same as evaluating the impact!
To evaluate the impact of any of the projects listed on this site you need click on further tabs to get the the ‘documents’ (here), where you can read about how the project is going.
This should give you an insight into how difficult it is to evaluate the success of aid expenditure: just to keep track of the expenditure year on year is an effort given that there are so many different actors involved with spending the aid money – the FCO (previously DFID) works with projects which are already up and running, which can mean working with different partners.
Then you have to evaluated the impact in the context of the problems faced in local conditions – there are all sorts of issues such as conflict and corruption which may mean aid money not being spent as you’d like!
And this is just one project – out of thousands that UK aid money is currently being used to finance!
Early modernisation theoristsbelieved that it was essential to inject aid into countries to establish infrastructure and change attitudes. From the 1950s to 70s aid programs seemed to have a positive effect on many developing countries as both economic and social development increased, however this progress seamed to stall from the late 1970s.
Contemporary supporters of aid believe that aid is not necessarily a bad thing, but aid needs to be targeted, its effects monitored and accountability measures need to be in place, so that aid money doesn’t go astray, like the $10 billion lent to Indonesia during General Suharto’s rule between 1965-1995.
In the ‘End of Poverty’ (2005) Sachs notes that large scale aid can work when it is practical, targeted, science based and measurable. He believes in aid as ‘one big push’ to sort out specific problems. He points to the following evidence to support his view that aid works:
Firstly, aid aimed at improving health has been particularly successful. Aid money has led to mass immunisation of children against diseases such as smallpox and measles, polio, diphtheria. Smallpox was practically wiped out with $100 million of very targeted aid aimed at vaccinating those most at risk. Today, Barder (2011) points out that every year foreign aid pays for 80% of immunisations and saves 3 million lives a year.
The recent sharp decline in Malaria deaths is largely due to targeted immunisation, paid for by international aid, a cause championed by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation
Secondly – The Green Revolution – In the 1960s, Western Aid assisted in the green revolution in China, India and South East Asia which saw rice yields increase by 2-3 times, leading to surplus rice being produced for export. Such countries were then able to use the income generated by these cash crops to diversify and grow their economies, transforming into Newly Industrialised Countries (The Asian Tiger Economies). The video below outlines the case for the Green Revolution.
Thirdly, Numerous countries, known as the International Development Association (IDA) graduates have gone on to ‘drive to maturity’ following large injections of aid money. Riddel (2014) argues that there is a substantial body of evidence that South Korea, Botswana and Indonesia have all benefited economically from Official Development Assistance.
Aid can support the Interests of Developed Countries (*)
According to Marren (2015), there is plenty of evidence that aid is shaped by the self-interest of the donor countries:
Aid may be used as a ‘sweetener’ to gain access to resources and markets and foster better trade links. The USA has used aid to guarantee access to scarce resources such as oil, while the increased donor activity of China in recent years may be linked to its need for raw materials. This goes some way to explaining why more aid money goes to lower-middle income countries rather than low-income countries – put simply, donor countries stand to gain more from giving aid the slightly better off rather than the very poorest.
Aid may be a way stimulating the donor economy. Some countries attach conditions to aid stipulating that a proportion of the funds must be spent on goods manufactured in the donor country. This is known as ‘tied aid’. The UK banned this kind of aid in 2001, although research conducted by The Guardian newspaper found that only 9 out of a total of 117 major DFID contracts (worth nearly £750 million) had gone to non-British companies.
Aid may be a way of strengthening political links and securing strategic interests. Countries which are viewed by the Americans as allies in the ‘War against Terror’ are generously rewarded with aid. A recent study of U.S. Aid since the 2000s showed that the main destinations were Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt. Similarly, UK aid is increasingly being spent on military objectives.
Statistics on the Benefits of UK Aid (*)
The majority of UK aid spent between 2015-2019 was spent in Africa, and you can get a detailed breakdown of expenditure by sector and region in the most recent DFID report linked below (NB DFID has now merged with the FCO, so whether future reporting will be the same remains to be seen!)
Combatting malnutrition – From 2015-2020 DFID reached 55.1 million children under 5, women of childbearing age and adolescent girls through our nutrition-relevant programmes.
Water, sanitation and hygiene – Between 2015 and 2020 DFID has supported 62.6 million people to gain access to clean water and/or better sanitation.
Education – Between 2015 and 2020 DFID supported at least 15.6 million children to gain a decent education.
Jobs and Income – From 2015/16 to 2019/20 DFID supported 5million people to raise their incomes or maintain/gain a better job or livelihood.
Family Planning – Between April 2015 and March 2020, DFID reached an average of 25.3 million total women and girls with modern methods of family planning per year
Health – Immunisations – From the start of 2015 until the end of 2018, DFID support immunised an estimated 74.3 million children, saving 1.4 million lives.
Access to Finance – Between 2015 and 2019 DFID supported 69.2 million people to gain access to finance, including 35.4 million women, representing 51% of the total
Energy – From 2015/16 to 2019/20 DFID installed 771 KW hours of clean energy capacity.
Of course there is a question mark over how effective the aid spent in the above statistics has been, which is one of the many criticisms made of Official Development Aid, which you can read about in this post here.
Aid refers to any flow of resources from developed countries to the developing world. Aid can come in the form of money, technology, gifts or training, and can either be provided in the form of a grant which does not have to pay back or a loan with interest which does have to be paid back.
There are different strengths and limitations of aid depending on where it comes from – and you need to be able to distinguish between Official Development Aid from large scale institutions such as the World Bank and Governments, aid organised through Non-Governmental Organisations – or Charities such as Oxfam and Private Aid – from organisations set up by wealthy individuals – such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
There are three main types of aid you need to know about:
Official Development Aid
Official Development Aid (ODA) is aid from public or official sources such as national governments or international agencies of development. Official Development Aid accounts for 80% aid.
There are two main types of ODA (which are not distinguished in the table above)
Bilateral Aid involves countries in the developed world giving money directly to governments, local communities or businesses in the developing world. In the UK this is knowns as ‘Official Development Assistance’ and in is delivered through the Department for International Development (DFID). 70% of ODA is bilateral.
Multilateral Aid involves the UK (and other countries) donating money to international agencies such as the World Bank and the European Commission. There are over 200 international agencies which provide aid to developing countries. 30% of ODA flows through such international agencies.
Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Aid – NGOs are independent charities such as OXFAM which raise donations from the general public. There are thousands of NGOs ranging from the very large and well-known such as OXFAM, which focus on a range of development projects, to the very localised and specific, which may consist of just a few individuals focussing on one development issue in one area of one country. NGO aid makes up the other 20% of aid.
This is aid from international foundations which are set up by wealthy individuals or Corporations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This accounts for a relatively small proportion of aid flows.
Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.
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