Britain hits international development aid target

by Astrid Zweynert | azweynert | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 2 April 2014 16:58 GMT

Residents wait for food aid distributed by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) at the besieged al-Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus on January 31, 2014, in this handout picture made available to Reuters February 26, 2014.

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Britain boosted its overseas development aid by 30 percent last year to reach the U.N. target of 0.7 percent of national income. It was the first big country to do so, though several smaller ones have done it already

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain became the first of the world’s richest large nations to hit an internationally agreed target -- spending 0.7 percent of national income on development aid.

Over the past year, Britain spent 11.4 billion pounds on overseas development assistance (ODA), an increase of 30.5 percent from 2012, the government said in a statement.

This lifted the proportion of national income spent on aid to 0.72 percent from 0.56 percent in 2012, according to provisional data.

By hitting the long-standing target agreed by the United Nations, Britain joined a group of smaller wealthy countries that have already met or exceeded it: Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Kevin Watkins, executive director of the Overseas Development Institute, a think tank, praised Britain for sticking to its promise of meeting the target in 2013.

 “This is a fantastic achievement reached with cross-party cooperation that puts Britain in a leadership position over the greatest challenge facing humanity,” he said in a statement.

Africa received the largest share of the aid, accounting for 38.4 percent of all bilateral aid administered by Britain's Department for International Development.

ODA can be either bilateral (from a donor government to a developing country) or multilateral (from a donor government to organisations such as the United Nations.)

Bilateral UK aid increased by 24.6 percent year on year in 2013, while multilateral aid rose 40.4 percent.

The United Nations first agreed the 0.7 percent target in 1970. In 2005, European Union member states pledged to meet the target by 2015 but Britain set an earlier date of 2013.

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