aid to sub-Saharan Africa declined in 2020

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A young South Sudanese woman near the town of Nyal, in August 2018.

The “historic” record of official development assistance paid in 2020 by the richest countries on the planet has not benefited those who depend most on international solidarity to cushion the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic : Sub-Saharan Africa saw the subsidies granted by bilateral donors fall by 1% in 2020, to 31 billion dollars (about 26 billion euros), according to preliminary figures released Tuesday, April 13 by the Cooperation Organization and for economic development (OECD). The disengagement of certain major donors such as the United Kingdom is at the origin of this decline.

In total, aid reached $ 161.2 billion last year, up 3.5% in real terms year on year. Of this amount, $ 12 billion corresponds to expenses directly related to Covid-19.

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“Globally, governments have put in place recovery measures related to Covid-19 equivalent to $ 16 trillion and we have mobilized only 1% of this amount to help developing countries cope to an unprecedented crisis for current generations ”, commented the Secretary General of the OECD, Angel Gurría, to put the announced record into perspective: “We need to make a much more massive effort to help developing countries with vaccine distribution, hospital services, and to support the income and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations to ensure a truly global recovery. . “

A violent economic and social shock

Although the health record of the pandemic is relatively less dramatic in Africa than in the rest of the world, the economic and social shock caused by the containment measures is violent. Africa recorded its first recession in twenty-five years in 2020. Some 30 million jobs are said to have been destroyed and tens of millions of people have fallen back into extreme poverty. Humanitarian needs related to severe food crises in the Sahel, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Horn of Africa are reaching unprecedented levels. According to economic forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released Tuesday, April 6, the economic recovery on the continent will be weaker than in other regions, where activity is being stimulated by massive fiscal stimulus plans.

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“Africa is reeling from the pandemic and a drop in official development assistance will have severe repercussions on the recovery”, deplores Bartholomew Armah, director of the macroeconomics and governance division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA): “Most of the aid goes to the social sectors, which have been hit hard by the crisis and which will be doubly affected by the drop in donor contributions. The support provided to the continent to respond to the pandemic should be additional and not come at the expense of official development assistance. “