Opinion: The integrity of aid statistics must be protected


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee is a group of donor countries that monitors development finance flows. Over the past 20 years it has periodically amended the rules for calculating official development assistance — most recently as part of the ODA modernisation process.

Despite the DAC’s mandate to ensure the quality and integrity of ODA statistics, agreements reached thus far have mostly gone in the opposite direction and are negatively affecting the quality and quantity of ODA flows reaching countries in the global south.

This week, the DAC Working Party on Development Finance Statistics, or WP STAT, the main body responsible for the quality and integrity of ODA statistics, will meet for three days. Discussions could lead to the expansion of old agreements and/or the construction of new ones — notably, on reporting arrangements for private sector instruments, or PSI; the reporting of the donation of excess COVID-19 vaccine doses as ODA; and the eligibility of Special Drawing Rights to be counted as ODA.

One thing is certain: At a time of deep economic and social crisis, ODA is a unique source of development finance that can have a direct positive impact on the eradication of poverty and inequalities at multiple levels. The DAC community will risk isolating itself as an increasing number of observers question the impact of the ODA they are providing.

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