Follow the Money: New IFPRI Tool for Tracking ODA Launched

This was originally posted on the global Food Security Portal's Food for Thought blog .

Official Development Assistance, or ODA, provides a fundamental source of financing in the poorest and most fragile countries. Current ODA is estimated at $135 billion USD a year, but investment needs in infrastructure alone reach up to $1.5 trillion a year in emerging and developing countries according to the World Bank Group. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) recently announced plans to extend more than $400 billion USD in financing over the next three years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet meeting the staggering but achievable needs of the SDGs agenda requires everyone the most efficient use of each dollar from every source.

"In order to assess the potential effects of ODA increases, it is essential to track the specific countries and sectors where the money is being targeted,” says Maximo Torero, Director of the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). “An advanced tool for tracking ODA investments over time can assure the necessary investments are there to accomplish the SDGs."

A new interactive mapping tool from IFPRI allows users to track ODA by donor country, receiving sector, and year, with the map illustrating the level of aid to each recipient country in USD (millions). Using data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the map can show trends in ODA from one country or donor group over time, or track the level of aid to a specific sector in a particular country. The data used is also publicly available for download here .

The map shows, for instance, that total ODA to food aid in Africa south of the Sahara spiked sharply in 2008, jumping from 614.25 (USD millions) in 2007 to 933.82 (USD millions) the following year; this total remained above 2007 levels until 2013, when it fell sharply to 400.1 (USD millions). The map's country-level data shows that for most SSA countries, ODA food aid followed the same general trend, rising during the 2008 global food crisis and tapering off in more recent years. These numbers show that donor countries responded strongly to the region's increased need for food aid during the global crisis.

The SDGs are ambitious and will demand equal ambition in using the billions of dollars in current flows of ODA and all available resources to attract, leverage and mobilize trillions in investments of all kinds—public and private, national and global. Increasing external resource flows to developing countries for investment is essential to achieving the SDGs—but these can be expected to materialize only in circumstances where countries have coherent and transparent development strategies fostering macroeconomic stability, while also ensuring the delivery of key public sector services and a business environment supportive of growth.

By: Rachel Kohn, IFPRI