United Kingdom

Leaving no one behind: The United Kingdom’s approach and priorities

The United Kingdom’s 2015 strategy “UK aid: Tackling global challenges in the national interest” commits the United Kingdom to lead efforts in implementing leave no one behind. The policy paper “Leaving no one behind: Our promise” commits to putting the last first, targeting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, the most excluded, those in crises, and most at risk of violence and discrimination. It strives to end violence against girls and women, including ending female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage, and tackling sexual violence in conflict.

For the Department for International Development (DFID), an opportunity of leave no one behind is that growth and development benefit from being inclusive. In its draft framework, DFID focuses on three pillars: understand, empower, include. The understand pillar aims to get data and evidence on who, where and why people are left behind and is accompanied by a data disaggregation plan. Gender equality and disability are high priorities and four country offices – Bangladesh, Nepal, Rwanda and Zimbabwe – are testing new ways to embed leave no one behind.

In its programming, DFID uses poverty analysis to identify most vulnerable groups. It is developing new diagnostic tools, which will integrate inclusion tools into its portfolio-wide poverty diagnostic. Key challenges are managing the risks of people still being left behind in 2030 and understanding additional costs and then financing the cost of leaving no one behind.

Financial flows from the United Kingdom to developing countries

Figure 42.1. Net resource flows to developing countries, 2006-16, United Kingdom

Note: Data on private flows at market terms, officially supported export credits and other official flows are not available for 2015-16. Data on private grants are not available for 2014-16.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797079

Figure 42.2. Net ODA: Trends in volume and as a share of GNI, 2006-17, United Kingdom

P: preliminary data.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797098

The United Kingdom’s performance against commitments for effective development co-operation

Table 42.1. Results of the 2016 Global Partnership monitoring round (updated), United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Alignment and ownership by partner country (%)

Predictability (%)


Use of country-led results frameworks

Funding recorded in countries’ national budgets

Funding through countries’ systems

Untied ODA

Annual predictability

Medium-term predictability

Retrospective statistics (OECD CRS)

Information for forecasting (OECD FSS)

Publishing to IATI








needs improvement










needs improvement








Note: Please refer to Annex B for details on the indicators. Data on untied ODA, retrospective statistics and publishing to the IATI have been updated according to the latest information available.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933798010

The United Kingdom’s official development assistance

In 2017, the United Kingdom provided USD 17.9 billion in net ODA (preliminary data), which represented a 2.1% increase in real terms from 2016 and continued adherence to its legislative commitment to spend 0.70% of gross national income (GNI) on ODA. The United Kingdom is one of only five Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members to have met the UN target of 0.7% of ODA/GNI in 2017. In 2017, in-donor refugee costs were USD 491 million and represented 2.7% of the United Kingdom’s total net ODA, compared to 3.2% in 2016.

All of the United Kingdom’s ODA (excluding administrative costs and in-donor refugee costs) was untied in 2016, while the DAC average was 81.2%. The grant element of total ODA was 96.2% in 2016. Loans amounted to 6% of gross ODA.

In 2016, 64.1% of ODA was provided bilaterally. The United Kingdom allocated 35.9% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations. In addition, it channelled 30.1% of its bilateral ODA for specific projects implemented by multilateral organisations (multi-bi/non-core contributions).

Figure 42.3. ODA composition in 2010-16 and distribution of multilateral ODA in 2016, United Kingdom

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797117

In 2016, 48.1% of bilateral ODA was programmed with partner countries. The United Kingdom’s share of country programmable aid was higher than the DAC country average (46.8%) and project-type interventions accounted for 65% of this aid. Twenty-two per cent of bilateral ODA was categorised as “other and unallocated” aid.

Figure 42.4. Composition of bilateral ODA, 2016, gross disbursements, United Kingdom

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797136

In 2016, USD 2.2 billion of bilateral ODA was channelled to and through civil society organisations (CSOs). ODA channelled to and through CSOs has decreased as a share of bilateral ODA (from 21.5% in 2015 to 18.5% in 2016).

Figure 42.5. Gross bilateral ODA disbursements to and through CSOs by type of CSO, 2010-16, United Kingdom

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797155

Bilateral ODA was primarily focused on sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, USD 3.4 billion was allocated to sub-Saharan Africa, USD 1.7 billion to south and central Asia, and USD°1.3°billion to the Middle East.

Figure 42.6. Share of bilateral ODA by region, 2016, gross disbursements, United Kingdom

Note: Thirty-eight per cent of bilateral ODA allocated was unspecified by region in 2016. This share is not represented on the map.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797174

In 2016, 29.9% of bilateral ODA went to the United Kingdom’s top 10 recipients. The top 10 recipients in 2016 are countries in the Middle East and North Africa, South and Central Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, the United Kingdom’s support to fragile contexts reached USD 5.3 billion (46% of gross bilateral ODA). Support to fragile contexts consisted mainly of project-type interventions (60%) and contributions to pooled funds (30%).

Figure 42.7. Bilateral ODA to top recipients, 2016, gross disbursements, United Kingdom

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797193

In 2016, 28% of bilateral ODA was allocated to least developed countries (LDCs), amounting to USD 3.3 billion. This share has decreased from 32.5% in 2015 but remains higher than the 2016 DAC average of 21.9%. The LDCs received the highest share of bilateral ODA in 2016, noting that 43.2% was unallocated by income group.

At 0.22% of GNI in 2016, total ODA to the LDCs was above the UN target of 0.15% of GNI.

Figure 42.8. Bilateral ODA by income group, 2010-16, gross disbursements, United Kingdom

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797212

In 2016, 46% of bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services, at a total of USD 3.4 billion, with a strong focus on government and civil society (USD 889.1 million), education (USD 872.5 million), and health (USD 842.5 million). Humanitarian aid amounted to USD 1 billion. In 2016, the United Kingdom committed USD 5.8 million (0.1% of bilateral allocable aid) to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries. It also committed USD 833.9 million (12.5% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and to improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy.

Figure 42.9. Share of gross bilateral ODA by sector, 2015-16, commitments, United Kingdom

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797231

USD 3 billion of bilateral ODA supported gender equality. In 2016, 45.5% of the United Kingdom’s bilateral allocable aid had gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal or significant objective, compared with the DAC country average of 36.5%. This represents an increase from 40.5% in 2015.

Figure 42.10. Share of bilateral allocable ODA in support of gender equality by sector, 2016, commitments, United Kingdom

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797250

USD 1.5 billion of bilateral ODA supported the environment. In 2016, 22.8% of the United Kingdom’s bilateral allocable aid supported the environment and 21.2% (USD 1.4 billion) focused on climate change, compared with the respective DAC country averages of 33% and 25.7%.

Figure 42.11. Bilateral allocable ODA in support of global and local environment objectives, 2010-16, commitments, United Kingdom

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933797269

Note to reader: Annex B provides “Methodological notes on the profiles of Development Assistance Committee members”.

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