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    Belgian development aid down in 2017

    © Belga
    © Belga

    Belgian official development assistance (ODA) went down from 0.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 to 0.45% in 2017, according to data published on Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Belgian rate is above the average for member countries of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) – 0.31% of GDP – but lower than the 0.7% target set by the United Nations.

    Generally, development assistance amounted to $146.6 billion in 2017, a drop of 0.6% in real terms from 2016. This was due in part to less spending on refugees by donor countries and increased contributions to countries that need aid the most, the OECD explained.

    After sliding downward for many years, bilateral aid to least developed countries (LDCs) went up by 4% in real terms, totaling $26 billion. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria commented that while it was encouraging to note that more resources were going to the countries that needed them most, that was still not enough and too many donors were still far from the 0.7% target. He added that donor countries should use the current period of economic growth to intensify their efforts.

    Belgium’s ODA went from US$2.3 billion in 2016 to $2.11 billion in 2017. This amount is insufficient, representing a cumulative drop of 30% since 2010, according to the CNCD-11.11.11 organization.

    “This is all the more worrisome since Belgium is one of the nine OECD countries where more than 10% of the assistance goes to hosting asylum seekers,” the organization commented. “Despite a slight drop from 2016 to 2017, the cost of hosting asylum seekers in Belgium represented more than 14% of Belgian aid in 2017. Thus, Belgium was still the main beneficiary of its own development assistance in 2017.”

    Only five members of the DAC attained the target of keeping ODA at 0.7% of GDP or higher in 2017. They were the United Kingdom (0.7%), Denmark (0.72%), Norway (0.99%), Luxembourg (1.0%) and Sweden (1.01%).

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times