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Still no defined ODA strategy

In February, the Government published A Better World: Ireland's Policy for International Development. It contains a reaffirming of Ireland's commitment to the United Nation-agreed target of allocating 0.7 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA) by 2030. It also notes that this will be a significant investment which will require focused and effective new policy choices and initiatives and notes that funding has increased by 32 per cent since 2014.

Indeed, Budget 2019 allocated €817m to Ireland’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme; an increase of approximately €110m on Budget 2018. This is a significant increase and at the time Social Justice Ireland congratulated the government on this move. We estimated at the time that the increase in ODA in Budget 2019 would bring the total ODA allocation to 0.39 per cent of projected GNI* in 2019. This is a firm step in the right direction. Ireland is regularly commended by the OECD Development Assistance Committee Peer Review for the effectiveness of our aid programme. We can be justifiably proud of our record of providing high quality, untied, grant-based aid. However, many other countries have taken a leadership role in moving towards the 0.7 per cent target, and Ireland’s record in this regard has historically been very poor. Budget 2019 will hopefully be seen in hindsight as a turning point.

However, we are disappointed that A Better World does not include a strategy for reaching the 0.7 per cent target and Social Justice Ireland calls on government to develop such a strategy with a view to reaching this target in the next few years. Ireland’s improving economic situation should be seen as an opportunity to recover lost ground in relation to our ODA commitments.