Is International Aid Reaching the Multidimensional Poor?

10 August, 2017

The flow of international aid is part of any poverty reduction strategy in developing countries. Therefore, it is important to know to what extent this aid is reaching places where people face various kinds of deprivations at the same time. To analyse this issue, Alkire and Robles researched aid allocations for 101 of the countries in the 2017 global MPI; they included only the aid commitments that are associated with priority sectors that reflect MPI indicators. This adds up to $45 billion in 2015 constant USD.

The table shows the distribution of people living in multidimensional poverty according to the income level of the country they live in (low, medium, or high). It also shows the percentages of bilateral aid (cooperation between countries that make up the Development Assistance Committee or DAC), of multilateral aid (of multilateral bodies such as the World Bank), and of both combined.

The intersection of this information provides some interesting data with respect to whether or not international aid is reaching those who need it most. As shown, 28% of the multidimensional poor live in low income countries. These countries receive 42% of the flow of aid for priority social sectors. At the same time, the large majority of the multidimensional poor (66%) live in lower middle-income countries that receive 49% of this aid. Furthermore, 6% of the multidimensional poor live in higher middle-income countries, which receive a generous 9% of aid.

As can be observed, the allocation of resources of international cooperation for priority areas differs significantly from the distribution of the multidimensional poor. The distribution, however, is different when broken down into different types of cooperation, showing that multilateral aid better reflects the distribution of the multidimensional poor than bilateral aid.


*Translated by Theodora Bradford, United Nations Volunteer. Revised by Diego Zavaleta and Ann Barham.

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