Many believe that the United States is the world's largest provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA), also known as "Overseas Aid." However, The European Union takes the cake, providing over $72 billion in aid overseas, double that of the United States.
At the same time, the aid that is channeled through the EU Commission has been criticized for not being focused enough to effectively alleviate poverty.
On the up side, the Commission is actively seeking to address this issue by looking at ways to increase the impact of its development policy. Early this year the Commission ran a "consultation process" and groups such as NGOs and non-profits were able to submit comments on how the EU should approach and revise their policy.
Two hundred groups made submissions, which the EU consolidated in a report that was released last week. After the report has been debated, the revised policy could have a huge impact on poverty reduction.
Some of the top options put forth by respondents are below:
1. Economic growth is necessary for development but that growth alone may not lead to poverty reduction.
2. NGOs pointed out that redistribution policies and social protection systems are important to monitor whether the poorest are benefitting from growth.
3. Overseas aid should be primarily provided to the least developed countries.
4. There needs to be greater coherence between development and other EU policies such as trade.
5. There needs to be better coordination with recipient countries domestic resources.
6. Increase support for small and medium size enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector.
7. Climate change adaptions should be a priority.
8. Plans to have sustainable agriculture and food security should be a priority for EU assistance.
9. EU development plans should align with recipient countries priorities and be approached as partnerships.
10. ODA should be long term, focused and reliable.