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ODA Reform

Giving Credit Where Credit’s Due - Reforming the Measurement of Official Development Assistance

Holding Hands

I have started this website to draw attention to the self-serving changes that the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD has made in recent years to the way it scores Official Development Assistance, and to call for fundamental institutional reform.

Each year, the OECD publishes statistics on Official Development Assistance (ODA) purporting to show, amongst other things, how individual donor countries are performing against the UN target that they spend 0.7% of their Gross National Income on ODA.


However, in recent years, motivated to make themselves look as generous as possible while under pressure from their finance ministries to spend as little as possible, the “Donors Club” of the DAC has developed multiple ruses to overcount ODA. In many cases, donor governments are now scoring amounts massively higher than the sums they are actually spending on development. At least one DAC member is even boasting about this, revealing that it has been scoring more than €5 for each €1 it spends in extending ODA loans. Other estimates show that overcounting of some programmes may be as high as 700% or even 1000%.


The ramifications of overcounting ODA, often called overseas aid, go far beyond mere issues of statistical accuracy. Taxpayers are being duped; real assistance levels are being cut; developing countries are being saddled with debt instead of benefitting from grants; and trust in multilateral solutions for delivering on the SDGs and tackling climate change is being eroded.

Steve Cutts

This campaign for ODA reform is completely independent. It benefits from no external funding and is beholden to no external interests. My collaborators and I are donating our time and expertise not just to draw attention to the flaws but also to explore and advocate for practical and constructive solutions.


We will try to cover all serious contributions on the various aspects of this issue, and are willing to host submissions even if we do not agree with them, as we want this site to prompt debate. Comments and contributions should be sent to


To clean up ODA – establishing fair and robust methodologies and giving it a robust and politically independent governance system – will take a huge effort. We hope you will join us in this endeavour, and we will in due course be providing further information on opportunities for you to become involved.


Steve Cutts




Their ODA is now so over-counted, you'd be a fool to give grants instead!


Private Sector Instruments

Now ODA can be cost-free, or even turn a profit for the donor! 


Debt Forgiveness

The circus trick of double-counting risk and the “phantom aid” whose ghost still walks 


ODA Governance

The dogs are judging the dog show and awarding themselves rosettes at every turn! 

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