Global drop in aid highlights importance of Australia keeping its promise to the world’s poorest

Campaigns and Advocacy, Foreign aid, General, Media Releases, News article written on the 04 Apr 2013

The continued decline in aid spending to help the world’s poor, according to new figures released overnight, underscores the need for Australia to keep its promise to increase support for the world’s poorest people, Oxfam said today.

The latest annual ranking of global overseas aid spending by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows Australia spent 0.36 per cent of its national income in 2012 on aid. This places it at 13 out of 24 OECD nations – the same ranking it held in 2011.

However, across the 24 aid donor nations, aid as a share of national income fell from 0.31 per cent to 0.29 per cent – shattering promises by rich countries to give 0.7 per cent of their national income to the poorest. The biggest cuts were made by countries including Spain, Greece and Italy.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the figures were a stark reminder to all nations – including Australia – about the impact of overseas aid programs on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

“This cut in aid is going to cost lives. Poor countries’ reserves have been depleted by the global economic crisis, and they’re struggling with high food prices and huge costs of the impacts of climate change,” Dr Szoke said.

“Australians can be proud of our consistent commitment to increase aid to the world’s poorest people. With some rich countries dropping long-standing undertakings, it makes it even more important for Australia to keep up its end of the bargain.

“Aid is not charity, it’s a crucial investment to build a better, safer world. These cuts mean too many farmers won’t get the help they need to grow more food, too many children won’t get the education for better jobs, and too many women won’t get the help needed to deliver healthy babies.”

Dr Szoke said while the new figures showed some improvement in Australia’s aid spending, the Australian Government was still some way off reaching the bipartisan target of committing 0.5 per cent of national income to overseas aid.

“Compared to other wealthy countries, Australia’s ranking on aid spending to help improve the lives of the world’s poorest people is slowly improving, but we can afford to do better,” Dr Szoke said

“If we are to keep this promise to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, the Government needs to deliver at the May budget.”

In last year’s federal budget, the Government delayed efforts to reach its 0.5 per cent target. By contrast, the UK will meet the internationally agreed target of giving 0.7 per cent of its national income to aid this year, despite having been in economic recession.

Oxfam is calling on the Australian Government to deliver on its goal to increase aid spending to 0.37 per cent of national income in the upcoming budget. This is a crucial step towards reaching the 0.5 per cent target and delivering our promise to the world’s poorest countries.

For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0412 560 584 or