Overseas aid: Who gives what to whom?

In 2017, public and private donors around the world gave about $200 billion worth of overseas aid to developing countries, in order to help them to grow. This money came from governments, institutions and private donors. These types of donors have varying priorities and aims in their giving, which means that the recipients of aid vary widely in the makeup of the aid funding they receive.

Using a dataset from the OECD, the Library has created an interactive dashboard to look more deeply into these aid flows. Here are some of the things we’ve found by looking through the data:

  • The United States, Japan, Germany, France and the UK are pretty consistently the largest national donors worldwide, but several multilateral organisations – notably the World Bank and the EU – give similar amounts.
  • Countries, multilaterals and private donors all have “Developing countries, unspecified” as their largest recipient of funding. This indicates programmes or projects that go across national boundaries or are not targeted at specific countries.
  • Except for this, though, there is little consistency in the makeup of aid from the different donor categories – the only country to appear in the top five recipients from all three donor categories is India.
  • The private donor in the dataset with the biggest giving by far is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The biggest beneficiaries of this funding (behind “Developing countries, unspecified”) are regional projects in sub-Saharan Africa, India and Nigeria.
  • Taken as a whole, countries mostly receive their aid from other countries. This isn’t the case for some specific countries, though – Turkey and Serbia both have the EU as their largest single donor by quite some way.

Select a donor or category of donor from the drop-down boxes below to explore aid flows for yourself:


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