Asset Publisher
javax.portlet.title.customblogportlet_WAR_customblogportlet (Health is Global Blog)

Spanish Development Cooperation in Freefall


This week, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) published the final aid figures for 2012, which, frankly, could have been much worse. The total amount of aid contributed by the countries on the list—which does not include the major emerging donors such as India and China or private organisations like the Gates Foundation—fell by just 4% in 2012, a moderate decline in view of the draconian cuts on public spending applied within the major donor countries. In fact, the average percentage of GNI  represented by official development aid in DAC countries has fallen by only one-hundredth of one percent  since the start of the financial crisis (from 0.30% to 0.29%). 

Spain, alas, is another story. For the second consecutive year, the Spanish government has made disproportionate cuts in official development aid. This year's cut represents a reduction of 50% over the 2011 allocation, which was already reduced by 30% over the previous year. The total contribution represents a meagre 0.15% of GNI, a figure that takes us all the way back to the levels of the late 1980s and leaves Spain trailing the pack of the OECD countries just a nose ahead of South Korea, Italy and Greece.

One thing is clear, this freefall is only partly due to the constraints imposed by the current crisis. When the Spanish Government uses austerity as an argument to justify aid cuts, it should immediately explain why the cuts in the defence budget, for example, were only half the average cut in public spending and one-sixth of the cut in the budget for development cooperation. The fact is that the dismantling of Spain's budget for development cooperation is a political choice, and the consequences of this choice go far beyond ethics. In a large number of regions and international organizations, aid represents influence, legitimacy and leadership, and Spain is relinquishing all three precisely at a time when the country most needs them.