Ireland

Ireland focuses its development co-operation on least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile contexts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, concentrating on social sectors and humanitarian assistance. Most official development assistance (ODA) is channelled to multilateral organisations and civil society organisations (CSOs). Ireland’s total ODA (USD 2.5 billion, preliminary data) increased in 2022, mostly due to higher in-donor refugee costs and higher contributions to international organisations. ODA represented 0.64% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

Under the overall objective to reach the furthest behind first, Ireland’s 2019 policy for international development, “A Better World”, sets four priorities: 1) gender equality; 2) humanitarian assistance; 3) climate change; and 4) governance. To achieve them, Ireland commits to take action in three areas: protection (including fragility), food and people (human development). Ireland’s bilateral co-operation focuses on sub-Saharan Africa. Country strategies are not limited to development co-operation and cover the entirety of Ireland’s relations with the partner country.

A 2022 Operational Framework for Multilateral Engagement guides Ireland’s partnerships with the United Nations (UN) system, the European Union (EU) and multilateral development banks. Ireland provides high shares of core and flexible funding and advocates for LDCs and fragile contexts. It adopted a new Global Citizenship Education Policy in 2021 and hosted a European Global Education Summit in 2022. Ireland’s first International Climate Finance Roadmap set out how it intends to meet its climate finance targets. A new tax treaty policy contains a specific approach for developing countries.

The 2020 OECD-DAC peer review found that Ireland is a strong voice for sustainable development. Quality partnerships with civil society, staunch support for multilateralism and good humanitarian donorship are hallmarks of its development co-operation. The vision and ambition of “A Better World” require Ireland to increase its ODA as planned, develop guidance and a new results management approach, and undertake strategic workforce planning. Learn more about Ireland’s 2020 OECD-DAC peer review. Ireland’s next mid-term review is planned for 2023.

Ireland provided USD 2.5 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2022 (USD 2.6 billion in constant terms), representing 0.64% of GNI.1 This was an increase of 125.1% in real terms in volume and an increase in share of GNI from 0.30% in 2021. While ODA stagnated as a share of growing GNI in recent years, the ratio more than doubled in 2022 compared to 2021. This is primarily due to additional resources for in-donor refugee costs, which constituted 51% of Ireland’s total ODA in 2022. Ireland is not yet in line with its domestic and EU commitments to achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Ireland provided all of its ODA as grants in 2021.2

Ireland ranks 7th in terms of ODA as a share of GNI3. It stands out for high shares of bilateral ODA provided to fragile contexts (49.3% in 2021), to LDCs (44.4%) and Africa (45.6%), in line with its policy. In 2021, Ireland had the highest share of core contributions to CSOs (20.4%). A very significant share of its programmes target gender equality (81% in 2020-21).

Ireland is committed to several international targets, Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Ireland provided roughly equal shares of its ODA bilaterally and multilaterally in 2021. Gross bilateral ODA was 53.9% of total ODA. Thirty-two per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Ireland allocated 46.1% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2022, Ireland provided USD 53.5 million of gross bilateral ODA to Ukraine to respond to the impacts of Russia’s war of aggression, of which USD 26.3 million was humanitarian assistance (preliminary data). In 2021, it provided USD 0.4 million.

In 2022, Ireland provided USD 27 million in ODA for the COVID-19 response. Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, Ireland provided USD 18.8 million in ODA of which donations of excess doses to developing countries accounted for USD 17.2 million, USD 1 million for doses bought specifically for developing countries and USD 0.5 million related to ancillary costs. In 2020 and 2021, Ireland’s total bilateral support for COVID-19 response was USD 40.9 million and USD 51.9 million, respectively.

In 2021, Ireland provided USD 734.6 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 16.2% in real terms from 2020. Of this, USD 532.7 million was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 23.5% of Ireland’s non-core contributions and 76.5% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Seventy-nine per cent of Ireland’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2021 was allocated to the EU Institutions and the UN system (in descending order).

The UN system received 36.4% of Ireland’s multilateral contributions, mainly in the form of earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 267.5 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Ireland’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were WFP (USD 43.3 million), UNICEF (USD 40.7 million) and UNOCHA (USD 34.4 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2021, Ireland’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 622.1 million of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 14.4% in real terms from 2020. In 2021, Ireland focused most of its bilateral ODA on the food security, health and education goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2021, country programmable aid was 25.5% of Ireland’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 45.2%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 50.3 million in 2021, an increase of 27.9% in real terms over 2020, and represented 8.1% of Ireland’s total gross bilateral ODA.

In 2021, Ireland channelled bilateral ODA mainly through CSOs, followed by multilateral organisations. Technical co-operation made up 0.8% of gross ODA in 2021.

In 2021, CSOs received USD 236.1 million of gross bilateral ODA. Twenty per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 17.5% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2020 to 2021, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 40.7% to 37.9%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation, and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2021, Ireland’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 283.5 million was allocated to Africa and USD 46.6 million to the Middle East, accounting respectively for 45.6% and 7.5% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 25.2 million (4.1%) was allocated to Asia (excluding the Middle East). Africa was also the main regional recipient of Ireland’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2021, 36.0% of gross bilateral ODA went to Ireland’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, in line with its policy focus. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 41.9%, mainly due to core contributions to CSOs.

In 2021, the least developed countries (LDCs) received 44.4% of Ireland’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 276.1 million). This is higher than the DAC average of 22.9%. This represents the highest share of gross bilateral ODA, noting that 41.9% was unallocated by income group. Ireland allocated 25% of gross bilateral ODA to land-locked developing countries in 2021, equal to USD 155.6 million. Ireland allocated 0.5% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states (SIDS) in 2021, equal to USD 3.1 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 306.4 million in 2021, representing 49.3% of Ireland’s gross bilateral ODA. Thirty-five per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, increasing from 30% in 2020, while 16.8% was allocated to peace, increasing from 15.6% in 2020. Four per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing an increase from 2.3% in 2020.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2021, just over one third of Ireland’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 39.3% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 244.3 million), with a strong focus on support to health (USD 98.6 million), government and civil society (USD 77.8 million) and education (USD 44.1 million). ODA for productive sectors totalled 5% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 31.3 million), focusing on agriculture (USD 28.6 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 152.2 million (24.5% of bilateral ODA). In 2021, earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations also focused on emergency response, health and government and civil society.

In 2020-21, Ireland committed 81% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 78.9% in 2018-19, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 44.4%). This is equal to USD 350.8 million of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 12.9% in 2020-21, compared with the DAC average of 4.5%. Ireland includes gender equality objectives in 82.3% of its ODA for humanitarian aid, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 17.5%. Ireland screens the majority of activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (89% in 2020-21). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2020-21, Ireland committed 26.6% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 129.3 million) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (DAC average of 34.3%), up from 23.3% in 2018-19. Unpacking the environmental data further:

  • Seven per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC average of 11.3%.

  • Nineteen per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 94 million) focused on climate change overall (the DAC average was 29%), down from 20.5% in 2018-19. Ireland had a greater focus on adaptation (21.8%) than mitigation (12.2%) in 2020-21.

  • Nine per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 39.3 million) focused on biodiversity (compared with the DAC average of 6.5%), up from 7.9% in 2018-19.

Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Ireland committed USD 5 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2021, up from USD 0.6 million in 2020. The 2021 value is equivalent to 1% of Ireland’s bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about development co-operation in support of a sustainable ocean economy and the data platform on development finance for a sustainable ocean economy.

In 2021, Ireland also:

  • Committed USD 0.5 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.1% of its bilateral allocable aid. Regarding the payment of local tax and custom duties for ODA-funded goods and services, Ireland does not make information available about its policy and approach on the OECD Digital Transparency Hub on the Tax Treatment of ODA.

  • Committed USD 32.4 million (6.3% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2021.

  • Committed USD 197.3 million (38.2% of its bilateral allocable aid) to address the immediate or underlying determinants of malnutrition in developing countries across a variety of sectors, such as maternal health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) or agriculture.

  • Committed USD 148.6 million (28.8% of its bilateral allocable aid) to development co-operation projects and programmes that promote the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities.

Ireland uses leveraging mechanisms to mobilise private finance for sustainable development. In 2021, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine mobilised USD 0.5 million from the private sector simple co-financing.

In 2020-21, 39% targeted middle-income countries and 46.9% LDCs and other low-income countries (LICs), noting that 14.1% was unallocated by income. During the same period, the top beneficiary region of this financing was Africa (69.6% of the total).

Mobilised private finance by Ireland in 2020-21 benefited activities in agriculture, forestry, and fishing (100%). Furthermore, over this period, 13.9% of Ireland’s total mobilised private finance was for climate action.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The Development Co-operation Division within the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) steers and co-ordinates Irish development co-operation policies. The DFA manages the largest share of Irish ODA. In addition, the department is responsible for EU co-operation, while contributions to the EU budget are provided by the Department of Finance. Other departments mainly provide funding to multilateral organisations and collaborate with the DFA on specific initiatives. They co-ordinate through the Inter-Departmental Committee on Development Cooperation. The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence oversees development co-operation in parliament. Around 200 staff at DFA headquarters and missions work on development co-operation.

CSOs active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education co-ordinate through the umbrella body Dóchas. The Irish Development Education Association is a national network for global citizenship education.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Ireland’s development co-operation. Select features are shown in the table below.

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation monitoring exercise tracks the implementation of the effectiveness commitments. Following a reform of the exercise during 2020-22, the 4th global monitoring round (2023-26) has resumed. More detailed results for Ireland based on the 2016 and 2018 Monitoring Rounds can be found here. Monitoring profiles for other providers are available here.

Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs: https://www.irishaid.ie

CSO umbrella organisation Dóchas: https://www.dochas.ie

Irish Development Education Association: https://www.ideaonline.ie

Ireland’s practices on the Development Co-operation TIPS: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=ireland#search

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1985.

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.

Notes

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2019 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Other providers also provide non-grants, which include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. GNI data were not yet available for 2022 and GNP were provided as a proxy.

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