Tuesday 6 May 2014

Foreign Aid: the different types

Foreign Aid (also known as Overseas Development Assistance or ODA) is the assistance governments, non-government organisations (e.g. World Bank, IMF, Red Cross ), businesses, and individuals of one country give to the people of another country with a view to reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.

There are different types of International or Foreign Aid

1. Bilateral Aid

Assistance given by a government directly to the government of another country. This is usually the largest share of a country’s aid. It is often directed according to strategic political considerations as well as humanitarian ones. ( it's said that this is often the largest % of Aid given, and rarely reaches the people most in need - potentially the least effective /dangerous)

2. Non-government Aid

Assistance provided by non-government organizations (NGOs) like World Vision, The Red Cross and Oxfam. The money for this aid is mainly provided by public donations from individuals and businesses. This includes money raised through events like the 40 Hour Famine or Child Sponsorship programs. However, NGOs also receive some funding from government. ( Resources have been known to be intercepted or stolen in countries in conflict)

3. Multilateral Aid

Assistance provided by governments to international organisations like The World Bank, United Nations and International Monetary Fund, that are intended to reduce poverty in developing nations. ( This Aid is sometimes presented in the form of support for projects, business infrastructure, with 'foreign' investors or contractors appointed as part of the deal - often with little impact on those who need it most)

UK Info

The UK's official development assistance (ODA) is expected to rise to £11.3bn when it hits the 0.7% target. With a population of about 63 million, the figure works out at roughly £137 per Brit. The advocacy group One calculates that a person on an income of £25,000 pays £5,465 in tax, of which £52 would go to the overseas aid budget a year.
source guardian [click]

'It’s easy to forget that Britain’s aid budget comes in at 0.7 per cent of our national wealth. It’s less in total than we spend on fizzy drinks in a year. With 99 per cent of our spending happening "at home", it’s not accurate to suggest that charity does not already begin at home'
source [click]

How would I rank them and which is best?

My No 1 = NGO's ( Working directly with the people, although some NGOs are fronted by ex- government or ex army leaders, and may also be prone to corruption/exploitation.
No 2 = Multilateral ( Potential to be No.1 if it were not for the 'strings attached' and neo-colonial tendencies)
No 3 = Bilateral ( Often cited as heading straight for the pockets of corrupt ministers. thier families and or friends).

Further Info [click]

I wonder, do you think Foreign Aid is a help or a hindrance..?
if there's an alternative.. what is it?
Or perhaps you think it's a great reminder that we are our brothers keeper, and that it is a humanitarian act, supporting others in times of need and in times of crisis..

If we spend more on cigarettes and alcohol, or cola or cake.. should anyone ever complain about the Foreign Aid budget?
or is it a political tool used to secure friends, lands and borders?


  1. You ask such insightful questions. You are really brave. There doesn't seem to be a "right" answer - unless you think like children - they almost always go for the big save - the act of compassion - as soon as humans are able to understand power and personal gain, things get harder - i don't know why -

    I love that you would help educate, then ask -

    love & love,

  2. I remember last year learning about how complex the business of aid actually is., the ways in which funding for some NGO's can be compromised.. of the strategic use of 'compradors' ....and It all impacted on me for some reason.

    Foreign aid is a question that comes up every now and then in debates, and some say.. why are we spending x amount on foreign aid?, when people need help here in the UK etc..
    Yet it's not really explained to people in a way that they can easily understand.. and despite the fact that it may sound like a lot of money, it's a small percentage in government spends. Foreign aid, as a way to keep close allies, may also be a defense strategy
    There's no right as you say.. it's complex, with pros and cons with each approach. But it helps to know, especially id fid is being used to finance conflict/civil wars.. that's a serious ethical issue,