Belgium urged to reverse aid spending cuts

8 Sep 15

Belgium has been urged to reverse a decline in the size of its international aid budget.

The call comes in an review of Belgium’s aid programme by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which warned that government cuts would see the country’s aid budget contract over the next few years.

The European country’s official aid budget was $2.4bn in 2014, equivalent to 0.45% of gross national incomes. Although this is well above the average of 0.29% of GNI for OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members, it is someway behind the 0.7% United Nations aid target for donor countries.

Budget cuts could reduce it to 0.38% of GNI by 2019, the OECD warned today.

Belgium intends to send more than half of its official aid to the least developed countries – up from the 35% achieved in 2013. However, the OECD’s DAC Peer Review said fulfilling this aim would be difficult due to changes in the way Belgian aid is budgeted, programmed and delivered.

“Belgium’s pledge to send half its aid to the neediest countries sets a strong example for others. But this now needs to be translated into reality,” said DAC chair Erik Solheim.

“Belgium is taking significant steps to increase the scale, impact and quality of its aid. Future reforms should focus on speeding up processes, so Belgium can respond more quickly to changing needs, get the right expertise to the right places, and strengthen synergies with NGOs and other partners.”

The top recipients of Belgian aid are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Rwanda and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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