Belgium

Belgium’s policy for development co-operation prioritises least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile states in Africa. The Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD), part of the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, is responsible for development co-operation and manages 55% of the development assistance disbursements. Belgium mobilises private sector finance through direct investments in companies and shares in collective investment vehicles.

An OECD-DAC mid-term review of Belgium undertaken in March 2018 encouraged Belgium to capture evidence on the real-time effects of the numerous policy, institutional and programmatic reforms it went through since 2015 – including on how its policy priorities on the LDCs and private sector engagement are compatible. The current OECD-DAC peer review taking place in 2020 is looking at the impact of such reforms. Learn more about the 2018 OECD-DAC mid-term review of Belgium.

Belgium’s policy is set out in the 2013 Law on Development Co-operation. In addition to tackling fragility, other policy priorities include a stronger focus on private sector development, climate change, digital for development and human rights-based approaches. Belgium’s priority countries are evolving in line with its focus on fragility: since 2015, six middle-income countries have been removed from the list of priority countries, while two fragile states have been added. Contributions to civil society organisations (CSOs) represent a fifth of bilateral ODA.

Belgium provided less ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 2.2 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.42% of Belgium’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 The fall of 2.3% in real terms compared to 2018 was due to a decrease in reported in-donor refugee costs. Belgium ranked tenth among DAC member countries in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio in 2019. Belgium is committed, at the European level, to collectively achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, net ODA was USD 2.2 billion in 2019. Within Belgium’s gross ODA portfolio in 2019 (USD 2.2 billion), 94.1% was provided in the form of grants and 5.9% in the form of non-grants.2

Belgium’s ODA budget has remained relatively stable over the last three years, after years of decrease from 2010 to 2015. Belgium stands out for its support to fragile countries (34.5% of gross bilateral ODA), the LDCs (31.2% of gross bilateral ODA), and its commitment to gender quality and women’s empowerment (57% of bilateral ODA). See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, Belgium provided the largest proportion of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 57% of total ODA, of which 15% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Belgium allocated 43% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations, including to European Union (EU) institutions.

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In 2018, Belgium increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 1.2 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 6.4% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 1 billion was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project aid earmarked for a specific project or purpose (tight earmarking) accounted for 41% of Belgium’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 59% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, Belgium’s total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the EU institutions, the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank Group. These contributions together accounted for more than 92% of Belgium’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 24% of total multilateral contributions, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 290 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Belgium’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (USD 39 million), the United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 33 million) and the United Nations Development Programme (USD 31 million).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, Belgium’s bilateral spending declined compared to the previous year. It provided USD 1.3 billion as gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented a decrease of 4.8% in real terms from 2017.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 20% of Belgium’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 245 million in 2018, a decrease of 27.3% in real terms over 2017, and represented 10% of Belgium’s total net ODA.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, Belgium channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector and non-governmental organisation.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 303 million of gross bilateral ODA. Fifteen per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 7% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by Belgium (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 20% to 22%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, Belgium’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on sub-Saharan Africa. USD 474 million was allocated to Africa and USD 127 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 35% and 9% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 73 million was allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean. Africa and Asia were the main regional recipients of Belgium’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with its policy priorities. Forty-nine per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 28% of gross bilateral ODA went to Belgium’s top 10 recipients. Eight of its 14 priority partner countries are among its top 10 recipients. Kenya, not a priority partner, receives government-to-government loans, and Belgian development co-operation exited Viet Nam in 2019. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 51%, mainly due to expenditure for in-donor refugees and core contributions to CSOs.

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In 2018, the LDCs received 31.2% of Belgium’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 422 million). This is above the DAC country average of 23.8%. In line with Belgium’s development co-operation policy, the LDCs receive the highest share of bilateral ODA, noting that 51% was unallocated by income group.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 467 million of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (34.5% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 53.4% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of Belgium’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 25% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 292 million), with a focus on support to government and civil society (USD 83.8 million), education (USD 79.6 million), and health (USD 65.5 million). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 179 million (15% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused primarily on humanitarian aid and social infrastructures and services in 2018.

In 2018, Belgium committed USD 160.8 million (20.7% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

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In 2018, Belgium committed 57% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (down from 60% in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 386 million of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 6%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. Belgium screens virtually the majority of its activities against the gender marker (87.3% in 2018). Belgium’s aid to water and sanitation, population and reproductive health, government and civil society as well as production focuses on gender. Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, Belgium committed 45% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 352 million) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, as in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Seven per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Thirty-six per cent (USD 281 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, up from 33% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). Belgium has a greater focus on mitigation (27% in 2018) than on adaptation (23%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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In 2018, Belgium’s development finance institution, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), mobilised USD 44.3 million from the private sector through shares in collective investment vehicles, direct investment in companies or project finance special purpose vehicles (SPVs), syndicated loans, and simple co-financing arrangements with the private sector.

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Note: CIV: collective investment vehicle; SPV: special purpose vehicle.

Of the country-allocable finance mobilised from the private sector in 2017-18, 83% targeted middle-income countries and 17% the LDCs.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country.

Belgium’s private finance mobilised in 2017-18 mainly related to activities in the banking and financial services (84%) and energy (7%) sectors. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

Development co-operation is the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD), which is part of the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs. The DGD manages 56% of the development assistance disbursements, while the other 45% mainly stem from local or regional authorities’ budgets, in-donor refugee costs, and debt relief. Enabel, the Belgian development agency, implements and co-ordinates the Belgian international development policy in Belgium’s 14 priority countries and supplies its expertise to other providers. The BIO invests directly in private sector projects in developing and/or emerging countries.

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The 2013 Law on Development Co-operation mandates the Special Evaluation Office (SEO), which sits within the Federal Public Service (i.e. ministry) of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation to undertake evaluations. The SEO is a separate unit whose operational independence is secured by an independent budget. The Special Evaluator reports to the parliament via the Minister for Development Cooperation. Read more about Belgium’s evaluation system.

Top priorities for 2019 are evaluations of Belgium’s support to digital for development and the security-development nexus in Mali.

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of Belgian development co-operation.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

2018 OECD-DAC mid-term review of Belgium: https://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/Belgium-mid-term-review-2018.pdf

2015 OECD-DAC peer review of Belgium: https://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/peer-review-belgium.htm

Belgian Development Agency (Enabel): https://www.enabel.be

Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of Belgium: https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en/policy/development_cooperation

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1960.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the provider’s effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

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