Ireland

Ireland focuses its development co-operation on those furthest behind. Official development assistance (ODA) has grown in volume since 2015, but stagnated relative to gross national income (GNI). Ireland allocates its ODA mainly to least developed and fragile countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Its engagements are focused on social sectors and humanitarian assistance. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) leads Ireland’s development co-operation and oversees the bulk of contributions. Development financing beyond ODA is limited.

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. Learn more about the 2020 OECD-DAC peer review of Ireland.

In March 2019, Ireland launched a new development co-operation policy, “A Better World”, with the prime ambition to reach the furthest behind first. It focuses Ireland’s resources on least developed and fragile countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Ireland’s development policy priorities are gender equality, humanitarian assistance, climate change and governance. To achieve them, Ireland commits to take action in three areas: protection (including fragility), food and people (human development). 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.

Ireland provided more ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 935 million (preliminary data), representing 0.31% of Ireland’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 The increase of 4.5% in real terms from 2018 was due to an increase in its bilateral programme. Ireland ranked 12th among DAC member countries in relation to its ODA/GNI ratio in 2019. The government has committed to achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030 and Ireland is also committed, at the European level, to collectively achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis has the same value as net ODA under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, as Ireland provides only grants.2

Irish ODA relative to GNI decreased from 0.59% in 2008 to 0.32% in 2015. Since then the ratio has stagnated, while ODA volumes have grown. Ireland stands out for the high share of ODA that it provides to least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile contexts and to humanitarian assistance, in line with its policy. Almost half of its ODA is provided as core contributions to multilateral agencies. Ireland has a clear focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Ireland channels a high share of bilateral ODA to and through civil society organisations (CSOs). A very significant share of its programmes targets gender equality. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, Ireland provided the largest proportion of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 57% of total ODA, of which 27% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Ireland allocated 43% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations, including European Union (EU) institutions.

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In 2018, Ireland increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 547 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 12.2% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 404 million 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 25% of Ireland’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 75% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, Ireland’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 90% of Ireland’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 39%, mainly through core contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 212 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Ireland’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the United Nations Development Programme (USD 36 million), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humnaitarian Affairs (USD 32 million) and the World Food 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, Ireland increased its bilateral spending compared to the previous year. It provided USD 530 million of gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented an increase of 2.6% in real terms from 2017.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 29% of Ireland’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

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

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

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 200 million of gross bilateral ODA. Twenty-three per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 15% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by Ireland (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs remained stable at 38% of bilateral ODA. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, Ireland’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 267 million was allocated to Africa and USD 57 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 50% and 11% of gross bilateral ODA. Africa was also the main regional recipient of Ireland’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with the policy priorities of the overall strategy. Thirty-five per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 39% 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 37%, mainly due to core contributions to CSOs.

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In 2018, the LDCs received 47.7% of Ireland’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 253 million). This is far above the DAC country average of 23.8%. Ireland allocated 9.5% to lower middle-income countries in 2018, noting that 37% was unallocated by income group. Ireland allocated 0.3% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2018, equal to USD 2 million.

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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 294 million of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (55.5% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 38.5% 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 Ireland’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 40% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 213 million), with a focus on support to government and civil society (USD 71 million), health (USD 59 million) and education (USD 43 million). ODA for other macro sectors totalled USD 157 million, including in-donor refugee costs (USD 56 million). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 125 million (24% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused primarily on humanitarian aid and social infrastructure and services in 2018.

In 2018, Ireland committed USD 0.5 million of ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.1% of bilateral allocable aid. Ireland committed USD 35.4 million (8.1% 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, Ireland committed 78% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (down from 87% in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 337 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 7%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. A significantly higher share of interventions on social infrastructure and services (Ireland’s focus) addresses gender equality than those on economic infrastructure. Ireland screens virtually all activities against the gender marker (99.8% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, Ireland committed 18% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 77 million) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, down from 23% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Six per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Seventeen per cent (USD 73 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, down from 23% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). Ireland has a greater focus on adaptation (16% in 2018) than on mitigation (4%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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In 2018, Ireland mobilised USD 0.6 million from the private sector through simple co-financing arrangements in the context of its Africa Agri-Food Development Programme.

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Of the country-allocable finance mobilised from the private sector in 2017-18, 62% targeted middle-income countries and 38% the LDCs.

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

Ireland’s private finance mobilised in 2017-18 related to activities in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The Development Co-operation and Africa Division within Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) steers and co-ordinates Irish development co-operation policies. The department manages the largest share of Irish ODA (65.7% in 2018). 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 DFAT on specific initiatives.

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Evaluations of the Irish government’s development co-operation programme are overseen and planned for by the Evaluation and Audit Unit, an independent entity situated within DFAT. The unit is mandated to evaluate not only the ODA managed by the department, but also other activities across the department. This unit also provides the internal audit function for the department. Besides the evaluations managed by the Evaluation and Audit Unit, the operational divisions and embassies may also commission evaluations that are directly relevant to their working areas. The unit provides advisory support to business units and programme managers in planning and undertaking such evaluations and other evaluative type of work. Learn more about evaluation in Ireland.

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

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

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

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.

← 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.

← 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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