Since the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by the global community in 2000, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen significantly – including in sub Saharan Africa where rates were highest. Since this time many more children have access to safe water; more girls and boys are attending school, and far fewer people are dying of preventable illness such as malaria and HIV. Much of this progress is attributed to the positive impact of international development assistance.
The Government, through the Irish Aid programme, has contributed to these achievements. A report produced earlier this month by the OECD, confirmed that over 80% of Ireland’s official development assistance is allocated to Least Developed Countries. This is the highest allocation from any OECD Member State and is an enormously positive reflection on our aid programme. These funds are directed at responding to emergency needs including food distribution, to supporting the development of social infrastructure in sectors such as education and health and to funding multi-sectoral programmes in social protection and nutrition.
Combating global hunger and under-nutrition is a key pillar of Ireland’s overseas development assistance programme. In 2008, the Hunger Task Force called on the Government to work towards an indicative target of directing twenty per cent of our overseas development assistance budget to hunger-related expenditure. In 2012 we delivered on that target.
In 2012, Ireland contributed €629 million to Official Development Assistance (ODA). Over 80% of this funding was managed under Vote 27 - International Cooperation through the Development Cooperation Division of my Department – known to the public as Irish Aid. The remainder consists of ODA eligible contributions from other Government Departments - principally the Departments of Finance, and Agriculture Food and the Marine - and Ireland’s share of the EU Development Cooperation Budget for 2012.
A full and detailed breakdown of Ireland’s ODA spending and of the specific sectoral allocations is presented in the Irish Aid Annual Report which is compiled by my Department, each year. The work on the report for 2012 is currently nearing completion. Preliminary expenditure data for 2012 demonstrates that approximately two thirds of Irish Aid funding was directed to the key sectors of Agriculture, Health, Education, Governance and Social Infrastructure Support. The remainder is allocated for Emergency, Humanitarian Assistance, (including food and non-food distribution), Water and Sanitation, Sectoral Support and Programme Management. I will arrange for a copy of the 2012 Irish Aid Annual Report to be forwarded to the Deputy following publication.