After two years of declining world aid, last Tuesday, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released new figures that demonstrated that aid had reached a record high in 2013 and increased by over 6.1%. In the face of what appears to be a gratifying headline, beneath the surface lies a far more depressing state of affairs. Despite aid increasing globally, aid to Africa fell by over 5.6% last year. In the least developed countries (LDCs) aid has been falling sharply with accounting tricks by developed nations misreporting the facts of global aid donations. In such an unstable climate, with national crises a daily occurrence across Africa and the Middle East, more must be done to ensure that aid reaches those most at risk.
If most people of developed nations were asked where aid usually goes to, the vast majority would more than likely say "Africa." They would be wrong. In a study conducted by The Guardian, found that over £12m ($20m) in aid from the United Kingdom was used to launch a media campaign throughout the UK to increase public support for global aid donations. The reason itself is not at fault here, rather, that the money was still labeled as "aid." The rules governing what constitutes as "aid" are very broad, allowing governments across developed nations to in-effect 'cook the books.'
What appears to be just a technically lenient definition is having a real world effect harming the world's poorest. With 450 million people still living in absolute poverty living on less than $1.25 a day, UN agencies and NGO's are struggling to meet the demands for their services. Developed nations are not ensuring that they honor their funding pledges with domestic policies trumping humanitarian concerns. In Syria, which is suffering through a severe drought and record-low harvest has been bearing the brunt of this needless inaction. The World Food program, which is facing a severe budget deficit, with less than half of its promised $2.3 billion budget promised by developed nations having materialized, has had to cut the size of its food parcels by a fifth to ensure that they can meet the ever growing demand.
Next week in Mexico, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) an organization of 161 nations with the limited focus to improve development co-operation will meet for their first high-level meeting of 2014. With its limited area of policy focus, the GPEDC must be utilized by developed nations to honestly reassess their aid policies and breakdown the red tape and slipshod policies that allow member states to renege on their aid promises. The United States, the largest aid donor in the world, must take the first step at addressing the duality of aid increasing globally whilst the poorest nations on the earth continue to receive less.