Ireland

Introduction

In March 2019, Ireland launched a new development co-operation policy, “A Better World”. This followed the 2018 foreign policy update “Global Ireland – Ireland’s Global Footprint to 2025”, which outlined how Ireland plans to double its global presence. Ireland has recommitted to reach 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) as official development assistance (ODA) by 2030. Ireland’s development policy priorities are gender equality, humanitarian assistance, climate change and governance. For these, Ireland defines three clusters of interventions: protection (including fragility), food and people (human development).

The next DAC Peer Review of Ireland’s development co-operation will take place in 2020. The review will be an opportunity for Ireland to share its experience on poverty reduction and humanitarian donorship.

Official development assistance

Having peaked in 2008, 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 its focus on least developed countries (LDCs), providing a high share of its aid to these countries and a high proportion of ODA provided as core contributions to multilateral agencies. It has a clear focus on sub-Saharan Africa, provides only grants and its aid is 100% untied. Ireland channels a high share of bilateral ODA to and through civil society organisations (CSOs).

In 2018, Ireland provided USD 928 million in total ODA (preliminary data, current prices), using the new “grant-equivalent” methodology (see the methodological notes for further details) adopted by DAC members on their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. This represented 0.31% of GNI. As Ireland does not provide loans, under the “cash-flow basis” methodology used in the past, 2018 net ODA was equally USD 928 million, which represented an increase of 5.6% in real terms from 2017.

Ireland started reporting substantially higher levels of in-donor refugee costs in 2017, which stood at USD 41 million, or 4.9% of total net ODA compared to 0.1% in 2016. This corresponds to a recent decision to report such costs, not a sudden increase in asylum applications.

Ireland’s share of untied bilateral ODA (excluding administrative costs and in-donor refugee costs) was 100% in 2017 (consistent with the same performance in 2016), while the DAC country average was 82.1%. As Ireland only provides grants, the grant element of total ODA was 100%.

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In 2017, 59% of gross ODA was provided bilaterally, of which 25% was channelled through multilateral organisations (multi-bi/non-core contributions). Ireland allocated 41% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

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In 2017, country programmable aid was 31% of Ireland’s bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 48% (see the methodological notes for further details on country programmable aid). Project-type interventions accounted for 51% of this aid.

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In 2017, Ireland channelled 21.6% of gross bilateral ODA through the public sector, the lowest of all DAC members (down from 22.8% in 2016). The share of bilateral ODA channelled through private sector institutions was 0.3%. In 2017, Ireland channelled USD 12 million through universities or other teaching and research institutions, equal to 2.5% of its gross bilateral ODA. See the methodological notes for further details on channels of delivery.

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In 2017, USD 188 million of bilateral ODA was channelled to and through CSOs. Between 2016 and 2017, ODA channelled to and through CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral aid (from 42.6% to 38.2%). Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and the Civil Society Days.

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In 2017, bilateral ODA was primarily focused on sub-Saharan Africa, to which USD 258 million was allocated. This corresponds to Ireland’s chosen priority countries: eight out of nine are located in the region.

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In 2017, 42.3% of gross bilateral ODA went to Ireland’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are all located in sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of Turkey. Support to fragile contexts reached USD 283 million in 2017 (57.5% of gross bilateral ODA – the highest share of all DAC members). Learn more about support to fragile contexts.

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In 2017, 50.4% of Ireland’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 248 million) was allocated to the least developed countries (LDCs). This is down from 55.9% in 2016. The DAC country average for 2017 was 23.5%. Lower middle-income and upper middle-income countries received smaller shares of bilateral ODA in 2017 (8.7% and 6.1% respectively), noting that 33.2% of bilateral aid was unallocated by income group. Within bilateral ODA that is unallocated by country, Ireland estimates that 40% is directed to the LDCs.

At 0.14% of GNI in 2017, total ODA to the LDCs (including imputed multilateral flows) was lower than the UN target of 0.15-0.20% of GNI.

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In 2017, 43.2% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 213 million) was allocated to social infrastructure and services, with a focus on support to government and civil society (USD 69 million) and health (USD 63 million), as well as education (USD 37 million). Humanitarian aid amounted to USD 115 million. In 2017, Ireland committed USD 0.4 million of ODA to support developing countries to raise domestic revenue, amounting to 0.1% of bilateral allocable aid. Ireland also committed USD 43 million (10.3% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2017.

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USD 346 million of gross bilateral allocable ODA supported gender equality. In 2017, 87.1% of Ireland’s bilateral sector-allocable aid had gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal or significant objective (up from 84.0% in 2016), compared with the DAC country average of 36%. Ireland screens almost all of its interventions against the gender marker (95.6% in 2017). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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USD 97 million of bilateral ODA commitments supported the environment. In 2017, 23.3% of its gross bilateral allocable aid supported the environment (22.6% in 2016) and 22.6% (USD 94 million) focused on climate change, compared with the respective DAC country averages of 33% and 25%. Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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Other financial flows and amounts mobilised from the private sector

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In 2017, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade mobilised USD 3.6 million from the private sector through simple co-financing arrangements with the private sector.

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Of the country-allocable private finance mobilised in 2012-17, 56% targeted middle-income countries and 44% the LDCs.

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Ireland’s private finance mobilised in 2012-17 related to activities in the agriculture, forestry and fishing (99%); and health (1%) sectors. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from private sector for development.

Institutional set-up

The Development Co-operation Division within Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade steers and co-ordinates policies of Irish development co-operation, provided under the brand “Irish Aid”. The department manages the largest share of Irish ODA (66.8% in 2017). In addition, the department is responsible for European Union co-operation. However, contributions to the EU budget are not part of its own budget.

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Evaluation system

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 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 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.

Performance against the commitments for effective development co-operation

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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.

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