Trends in the Allocation and Priorities for Canadian ODA



Trends in the Allocation and Priorities for Canadian ODA

Updated January 2018

1.  Regional Distribution of Country-Allocated Canadian ODA  Go to this section 

1.1  Trends in Regional Allocations of Canadian ODA

1.2  Trends in aid devoted to long term development programming

1.3  Trends in GAC multi-country regional programming

1.4  A commitment to double aid to Africa between 2003 and 2008

2.  Disbursements of Canadian ODA by Delivery Channel  Go to this section  

2.1  Global Affairs Canada ODA by Delivery Channel

2.2  GAC ODA: Delivery Channels by Geographic Regions

3.  Disbursements of Canadian ODA to Priority Countries  Go to this section   

3.1  Overview of Priority Countries

3.2  Targeting Priority Countries

4.  Sector Allocation of Canadian ODA  Go to this section

4.1  Introduction

4.2  Trends in Poverty-Focused GAC ODA

4.3  Trends for Specific Sectors


1.  Regional Distribution of Country-Allocated Canadian ODA


1.1  Trends in Regional Allocations of Canadian ODA


This section analyzes some significant trends in the allocation of Canadian ODA by region (country/region allocated ODA, not including ODA not allocated to a region such as in-donor country refugee costs).

See GAC Country/Regional Allocated ODA: Value of Disbursements by Geographic Region, 2000 to 2015 (2015 dollars)

See GAC Country/Regional Allocated ODA: Percentage of Disbursements by Geographic Region, 2000 to 2015

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be a strong priority for Canadian ODA.  The value of Canadian ODA to that region has remained relatively constant, averaging $2,330 million between 2010 and 2014, but declining significantly in 2015/16.

  • The share of Sub-Saharan Africa in total country/regional allocated ODA increased from 43% in 2010/11 to 49% in 2014/15.  But in 2015/16 the value of this aid to Africa dropped by 12% from $2,351 million to $2,073 million. Its share dropped from 49% to 45% between these years.  Sub-Saharan Africa has been a major focus for Canadian ODA since the doubling of aid to this region in the 2000s (see 1.4 below).

For Asia, disbursements have been trending down since 2010, with bilateral aid to Afghanistan accounting for a large share of the decline in disbursements to that region.

  • Asia’s share of country-allocated ODA, as well as the value of this aid, has been trending downward since 2010, from 29% in 2010 to 25% in 2015/16.    
  • Much of this decline is accounted for by declining bilateral aid for Afghanistan, from a high of $290 million in 2010 (2015 dollars) to $147 million in 2015/16, a decline of 49% over five years.  In 2010, bilateral aid to Afghanistan made up 35% of all bilateral aid to Asia.  While Afghanistan remains the largest recipient for Canadian aid in Asia in 2015/16 (next to Bangladesh at $72 million), this share of Canada’s aid to Asia dropped to 22%.    
  • Overall, the value in 2015 dollars for Canadian ODA to Asia declined by 25%, from $1,520 million to $1,140 million between 2010 and 2015.

The Americas as a regional program priority for GAC has had the largest decline since 2010.

  • Country programs in the Americas have experienced a very significant decline since 2010/11, dropping from 19% of Canadian ODA disbursements in that year to 15% in 2015/16.  In 2010 dollars, the value of these programs declined from $1,004 million in 2010/11 to $690 million in 2015/16, a decline of 31%.

The increase for Europe (Ukraine), the Middle East and North Africa is largely due to increased humanitarian assistance in the Middle East.

  • Support for country programs in these regions increased from 9% to 14% of Canadian country allocated disbursements between 2010 and 2015.  Much of this increase is accounted for by humanitarian disbursements in support of displaced people in the Middle East.  Disbursements for Syria, for example, increased from a mere $6.5 million in 2010/11 to $69 million in 2015/16.

Data calculated and posted, January 2018.


1.2  Trends in aid devoted to long term development programming


Since 2010 Canadian ODA devoted to long term development has been reduced to accommodate increased humanitarian needs       The demands and obligation to respond to humanitarian emergencies has been growing in recent years and Canada’s humanitarian assistance has grown accordingly.  Has this humanitarian response reduced the aid resources available for long-term development efforts?  In many respects humanitarian emergencies are the result of a failure of development and good governance.  Long term aid resources are needed to increase resilience and reduce the vulnerability of people living in poverty who are most at risk.

There has been a reduction in overall Canadian ODA (current dollars, including humanitarian assistance) of 8% since 2010.  But Canadian ODA devoted to long term development efforts have been reduced by almost 13% over this same period.  The gap between overall ODA and long-term development efforts has grown from 10% in 2010 to 15% in 2015.  In these last three years Canada has been highly responsive to the humanitarian needs of displaced people in the Middle East, with proportionately less resources devoted in these years to long term development programming. 

Much of this decline in long term development programming has been in Asia (reduced by 18%) and the Americas (reduced by 27%).  Long term development efforts for Sub-Saharan Africa have remained relatively constant over these five years (in current dollars).

See Trends in Canadian ODA Allocations for Long Term Development Efforts: Country/Regional Allocated Disbursements less Humanitarian Assistance, 2010 to 2015

Data calculated and posted, January 2018.


1.3  Trends in GAC multi-country regional programming


GAC allocations to multi-country regional programming has been increasing as a proportion of country/regional allocated aid       The above analysis of disbursements of Canadian ODA to different geographic regions includes disbursements for regional programs covering more than one country.  Disbursements for regional programs have increased significantly over the past 15 years since 2000. 

See Trends in Share of Total Regional Programming within Country/Regional Allocated ODA, 2000 to 2015

Total multi-country regional programming has more than doubled as a proportion of total ODA country/regional allocated disbursements from 2000/01 (11%) to 2015/16 (24%).  Since 2010 this proportion for multi-country programming has been relatively constant, averaging around 24% (including 2011 when this share reached 31%).

There has been considerable regional variations in the use of regional programming modalities.

See Regional Programming by Geographic Regions: Share of Total Geographic Program Disbursements, 2000 to 2015

  • The Americas has had the highest proportion of regional programming, making up almost half at 46% of programming in  in 2015/16, with a high of 50% in 2011/12.  This proportion is up from 25% in 2010 and 35% in 2005.
  • Regional programming in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia has been variable over the years.  For Sub-Saharan Africa it has declined from 23% in 2010 to 19% in 2015. For Asia, regional programming has fluctuated from 15% in 2010 to 33% in 2012, and back to 25% in 2015.

Almost all of GAC’s regional programming is conducted through multilateral and humanitarian programs of the Global Issues and Development Branch (91% in 2015/16).  Partnerships for Development Innovations made up 1% of these disbursements in that year, and the Bilateral Branches, 8%, with the Americas accounting for 5%.  For Global Issues Branch, almost half of the disbursements (48%) in 2015/16 are accounted for by six sectors: Environmental Policy and Planning (17%), Population Policy and Reproductive Health (11%), Humanitarian Assistance (8%), Agricultural Development (7%), Water and Sanitation (3%) and Road Transportation (3%).

Data calculated and posted, January 2018.

1.4 A commitment to double aid to Africa between 2003 and 2008


The strength of Sub-Saharan Africa in current aid disbursements is the result of commitments made during the previous decade.  This concentration on Sub-Saharan Africa was initiated by the then-Liberal Government at the Canada-hosted G8 meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta, in June 2002. The Government committed to increase Canadian aid by 8% per year, and to devote half of this increase to Sub-Saharan Africa. As part of this commitment the government created the Canada Fund for Africa, with $500 million to be disbursed over 4 to 5 years. As a result of these commitments, Canadian ODA directed to Sub-Saharan Africa (not including debt cancellation) increased significantly in 2002/03 (by 19%) and in 2003/04 (by 20%). By 2005/06, Canadian ODA for Sub-Saharan Africa amounted to 50% of all country-allocated ODA in that year, compared to 40% in 2000/01 (see the chart noted above). 

In the 2005 Federal Budget, the Liberal Government extended its commitment to Africa with the pledge to double its aid to Africa between 2003 and 2008. It also created a $100 million Canada Investment Fund for Africa. This promised was maintained and fulfilled by the Conservative Government in 2008/09:

ODA to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2003/04: $1,018 million  (including $64 million in bilateral debt relief.

ODA to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2008/09: $2,094 million, which represents a 105% increase over 2003/04.

But despite these increases, by 2010/11, the proportion of country-allocated ODA to Sub-Saharan Africa had declined to 43% from its high in 2005/06.  The budget for ODA has grown more rapidly during these years.

Data calculated and posted, January 2018.

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2.  Disbursements of Canadian ODA by Delivery Channel 


In 2015/16 Global Affairs Canada (GAC) implemented 72% of Canadian ODA, up slightly from 70% in 2010/11.  This share has been relatively constant since 2000, with occasional variations due to unique circumstance in a given year (e.g. special payments by Department of Finance, or more recently, higher imputed costs in support of refugees in Canada).

See Departmental Share in Delivery of Canadian ODA, 2000 to 2015

Global Affairs Canada implements Canada’s ODA through three major Branches — Global Issues and Development Branch (multilateral and humanitarian aid), Regional Geographic Branches (bilateral aid) and Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch (support for civil society partnerships).  See the GAC Organogram for details.  Within each of these Branches, aid is delivered through a number of different institutional channels — governments, multilateral organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector.


2.1  Global Affairs Canada ODA by Delivery Channel


Within GAC’s allocation of ODA, multilateral organizations have been the predominant channel for implementing Canadian ODA disbursements.      The main delivery channels for Canadian ODA have been through governments, through civil society organizations, through private sector for-profit companies, and through multilateral organizations.  This chart provides a breakdown between these four delivery channels for Canadian ODA administered by Global Affairs Canada.  

  • Multilateral Channels    Canada’s provides its mandated share of core funding of multilateral institutions and makes contributions to multilateral projects.  But in addition GAC also channels significant amounts of bilateral and humanitarian aid through dedicated funds (often established by Canada or other donors) in UN and other multilateral institutions.  While peaking at 65% in 2012/13, in 2015/16 more than 61% of GAC ODA was implemented through multilateral channels.  This use of multilateral channels has grown from 55% in 2005/06.
  • Civil Society Channels     Since 2010/11, channeling GAC ODA through Canadian and foreign civil society organizations has grown from 20% to 28% in 2015/16.  These disbursements include those through the dedicated GAC Branch for CSOs (Partnerships for Development Innovations) as well as CSO implementing partners for bilateral country-to-country disbursements and multilateral humanitarian disbursements through CSOs.
  • Government Channels     GAC government-to-government disbursements, as a share of total GAC ODA, have been declining from 15% in 2010/11 to 8% in 2015/16.  As noted above respective Canadian governments have implemented increasing amounts of bilateral aid through multilateral institutions in recent years as an efficient delivery mechanism (involving less direct management on the part of GAC officials).
  • Private Sector Channels     The private sector, as an implementing partner for GAC ODA, has played a minor role in the ten-year period since 2005.  As a share of GAC total ODA, this sector implemented only 2% of GAC ODA in 2015/16, which is down from 5% in 2010/11. 

See Implementing Canadian ODA: Share of Country-Allocated ODA implemented by different delivery channels. (Multilateral, Government, CSOs, Private Sector)

The disbursement of humanitarian assistance, with its reliance on multilateral and CSO channels, affects the relative use of different delivery channels for ODA. 

When humanitarian assistance is removed (looking at channels for long term development efforts) for GAC ODA in 2015/16, governments implemented 10%, excluding humanitarian assistance, compared to 8%.  The share implemented by CSOs was reduced to 24% compared to 28%.  The share for the private sector increased slightly from 2% to 3%.  Multilateral organizations’ share remained unchanged at 61%.

Data calculated and posted, January 2018.


2.2  GAC ODA:  Delivery Channels by Geographic Regions


In 2015/16, as in previous years with some variation, multilateral organizations and civil society organizations were the main delivery channels in all geographic regions for Global Affairs Canada’s ODA.  Civil society organizations, both Canadian and Foreign, delivered 25% of GAC ODA in Africa, 30% in Asia and 30% in the Americas.  Government to Government aid delivery was only relevant for Africa at 12% of GAC’s ODA for that region. For the share of other delivery channels see the chart below.


See GAC Country/Regional Allocated ODA, 2015/16:  Delivery Channel by Geographic Region

Data calculated and posted, January 2018.

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3. Disbursements of Canadian ODA to Priority Countries

3.1 Overview of Priority Countries


For the first time in several decades, Government will no longer produce a list of “priority countries” to which it will devote its ODA.  The June 2017 Feminist International Assistance Policy, states that

“Geographically, Canada will not limit itself strictly to a list of priority countries; however, nor will it disperse its assistance in all directions. The right balance must be achieved to ensure that Canada’s contributions have the greatest impacts. We must address conflicts and climate change in fragile states at the same time that we continue to stimulate economic development in the poorest countries. We must also support middle-income countries, which face particular challenges on issues of governance.”

This policy recognizes realities in country focus policies for the past decades.  Previous governments had set out a number of priority country lists, but many countries on these lists have been the focus for Canadian ODA for many decades.  Sometimes final disbursements did not reflect the stated changes country priorities.

In 2014, the Conservative government identified 25 priority countries for focus for Canadian bilateral aid programs (see the countries below). This list revised a 20-country list set out in 2009. For an analysis of (then) CIDA’s 2009 list of priority countries see here.

Previous Liberal governments, prior to 2005, also prioritized countries for Canadian bilateral aid. The 2005 Liberal Foreign Policy Review established 20 countries of priorities. It is unclear whether the Conservative Government, between 2005 and 2009, gave emphasis to this 2005 priority country list. The CCIC analysis pointed to 11 countries that were on both the 2005 and 2009 list.


3.2 Targeting Priority Countries


Among the Conservative Government’s 2014 priority country list, more than half (13) of the 25 countries, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Haiti, Honduras, Peru, the West Bank and Gaza and the Ukraine have been consistently strong aid partner countries for Canada since the 1990s, and for some, even in earlier decades.  These priorities for bilateral aid remain true today for the current Government.

Bilateral aid has been increasing concentrated in 20 to 25 countries since 2005.  By 2015/16, 86% of bilateral disbursements were in 25 countries, 80% in 20 countries, and 57% in 10 countries.  In 2005/06 the share of these disbursements were 69%, 64% and 48% respectively.  Afghanistan has been the top recipient of bilateral aid over this decade in three of the four years examined.

There is also a strong consistency among the countries that are among the top 25 recipients. Fifteen countries were among the top 25 in all four years examined, and an additional 8 were in 3 of the 4 lists below.

The number of low income and least developed countries among the top 25 recipients has declined from 16 in 2005 to 12 in 2015.  This shift is the result of “graduation” of several countries such as Ghana and Vietnam from low income to lower middle income status, not so much a change in country priorities for Canada.  Among the top 10 recipients, 8 of 10 were low income or least developed in 2015, compared to 7 of 10 in 2005.

See Top 20 Bilateral Partner Countries, 2005, 2010, 2012 and 2015

Data calculated and posted, January 2018

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4.  Sector Allocation of Canadian ODA


4.1  Introduction


The 2008 ODA Accountability Act commits the government-of-the-day to be assured that all allocations of Canadian ODA focus on poverty reduction, take account the perspectives of the poor, and are aligned with human rights standards. Government documentation regarding the implementation of the Act can be found here.  Analysis of its implementation by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation is here.

Despite this commitment to poverty reduction, there is no easy methodology for determining the degree to which the actual disbursements of ODA are compliant with the Act.  This section analyzes Canadian ODA disbursements since 2005 based on a proxy indicator for poverty focused ODA, derived from a selection of OECD-DAC sector codes.  At best, it suggests some trends, but should not be taken as an absolute measure of poverty-related ODA disbursements. 

A complementary analysis of trends in several key sectors for poverty reduction — support for basic education, basic health and reproductive rights and agriculture — provide additional indications of the sector priorities for Canadian ODA.  Trends in allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment is also a key area indicating a focus on poverty reduction consistent with human rights standards.


4.2  Trends in Poverty-Focused GAC ODA


Since 2005 Canadian ODA has become much less focused directly on poverty reduction       A proxy indicator for poverty focused allocations has fallen from 55% of sector allocated ODA (excluding humanitarian assistance) in 2005/06 to 47% in 2015/16, but up from 42% in 2010/11.  For GAC managed ODA, the decline has been gradual from 60% in 2005, to 57% in 2010, to 53% in 2015.  Better poverty focused ODA through the World Bank, managed by Finance, accounts for the difference between total ODA and GAC managed ODA in 2015/16.

See Percentage of Sector Allocated ODA to Poverty-Related Sectors, 2005 to 2015

See Percentage of Sector Allocated ODA to Poverty-Related Sectors by Delivery Channel, 2005 to 2015

Methodology Note for Poverty-Related Sectors

Trends in poverty-focused ODA differed for the different GAC delivery channels over this ten year period:

  • While a smaller share of Canadian ODA, GAC aid disbursed through governments has increased from 47% to 61% between 2005 and 2015.
  • Poverty-focused ODA also increased from “other departments” beyond GAC, from 13% to 21% sector allocated aid from these departments, largely due to agricultural investments through the World Bank. 
  • For civil society organizations, the ten-year change was minor from 63% in 2005 to 61%% in 2015, but the latter was an increase from 44% in 2010. 
  • Multilateral channels for poverty focused ODA remained relatively constant at a high level, 62% in 2005 and 64% in 2010, but declined to 50% in 2015. Both multilateral and CSO channels account for a significant amount of Canadian ODA (see above).

How can one account for the shift away from poverty focused ODA since 2005?  Over the past decade, there has been a remarkable growth in ODA support for five broad sectors — public sector and public finance reform, security sector management and reform, transportation (roads), minerals and mining, and energy and power generation. Support has grown for these five sectors from 6% of sector allocated ODA in 2005 to 15% in 2015.  Growth in mining and mineral increased from 0% in 2005 to 2% in 2015, while energy and power increased from 1% to 3% of sector allocated ODA.  This growth in support for energy and power generation in recent years signifies the use of Canadian aid resources in meeting Canada’s commitments to climate change mitigation. 


4.3  Trends in Specific Sectors


Sector Performance has been varied since 2005       While there is evidence above that overall poverty-focused ODA declined significantly since 2005, this trend was reflected differently among various sectors. 

See Trends in Key Sectors for Poverty Reduction: Share of Total Sector Allocated ODA (2005 to 2015) for trends in agriculture, basic education, primary health and reproductive health services, and support for informal finance and SMEs.

As a proportion of total sector-allocated ODA:

  • Agriculture has remained relatively constant at approximately 9% up to 2012, but declined to 7% in 2015. See the latest statistics for Canada’s disbursements for food security produced by the Policy Team of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation.  Funding to food security has been declining since 2009/10 when Canada met its L’Aquila commitments, essentially flattening in subsequent years at around $770 million. However, in 2015/16, food security saw a noticeable decline, hitting $633 million, dropping below even 2008/09 levels (without taking account of the impact of inflation on the value of these resources for food security programming).
  • Trends for basic education have remained relatively constant at 7% of sector allocated ODA since 2005 (with the exception of 2010 at 4%).
  • While still a significant priority, primary health and reproductive services, on the other hand, has declined as a share of sector allocated disbursements, from a high of 27% in 2005, to a low of 17% in 2010, rising again to 20% in 2015.
  • Support for informal finance and SMEs has been largely insignificant in Canadian ODA, representing a mere 1% of sector-allocated disbursements up to 2012, but increased to 6% in 2015.

Humanitarian assistance has increased significantly in recent years. 

See Trends in Humanitarian Assistance, 2005 to 2015

In 2015/16, $738 million was disbursed for humanitarian assistance, down slightly from $847 million in 2014/15 and $857 million in 2013/14.  As a proportion of Sector-Allocated ODA, humanitarian assistance has increased from 9% in 2005, to 12% in 2010/11, to 17% in 2015/16, with a high of 21% in 2013/14.

Data calculated and posted, January 2018

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