Total aid in 2011: €4,548m
About Netherlands' aid commitments:
Changes in 2011
The new government’s foreign policy introduced in 2010 is built on pursuing the economic interests of the Netherlands, a vision that has regrettably also been strongly applied to development cooperation. The aid budget has been reduced by 0.1% (of GNI) through decreases in bilateral aid, programs delivered through civil society, and by reducing the number of partner countries and sectors supported. Additionally, the Dutch government started counting climate finance as part of the ODA budget. Despite an increasing debate on the effectiveness of development cooperation, there is still broad public and political support for addressing global poverty and inequality.
The Netherlands cut its aid budget from 0. 81% of GNI in 2010 to 0.75% in 2011, equivalent to a fall in ODA from € 4.8 billion to € 4.6 billion. Although Dutch ODA will drop to 0.7% of GNI in 2012 and the financial crisis is putting further political pressure on the aid budget, the Netherlands has pledged to keep its commitment to spend 0,7% of GNI. A strong campaign by NGOs and other society voices has contributed to this outcome.
The Netherlands has a governance structure that places development cooperation under the umbrella of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to 2010 a Minister for Development Cooperation was appointed. However, the change of government in 2010 led to a shift in priorities and a restructuring of the Ministry. Currently, development cooperation is overseen by a Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs (Dr. Ben Knapen).
Countries and sectors
Together with the decision to cut the aid budget, the number of partner countries was decreased from 33 to 15 in order to bring more focus in Dutch development cooperation. The remaining 15 partner countries receiving bilateral aid from the Netherlands are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Yemen, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda, Palestinian territories, Rwanda en Sudan. Priority themes are security and the legal order, water, food security and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Challenges in 2012 and beyond
The Dutch government recognizes that a strong and diverse civil society is vital to society and for development. At the same time severe cuts were made to funding for development CSOs. The government also cut back on its investment in global citizenship. As the consumption and political choices Dutch citizens make affect people living across the world, promoting global citizenship remains vital for an effective development policy.
Aid to the health and education sector has declined in recent years and there is a general trend to transfer aid from social sectors towards stimulating economic growth. While economic growth in developing countries is of vital importance, the primary goal of ODA is to fight poverty and inequality worldwide. A stronger private sector can support the sustainability and inclusiveness of economic growth, but it remains an instrument of development cooperation, not a goal. Therefore, the government’s development budget aimed at private sector development in developing countries should primarily support an enabling environment and make sure businesses are acting in a socially responsible way. Direct subsidies to the private sector must be handled with care.
The Netherlands scores well on aid transparency and as a signatory to IATI it became one of the first official donors to publish against this standard in September 2011. The Dutch government should stimulate transparency of all actors involved in international development on the basis of open data and the IATI standards, encourage relevant actors to make use of the available data and make it accessible to the wider public.
Continue to show leadership in poverty reduction and the fight against inequality worldwide by: Raising the effectiveness of ODA through a focus on policy coherence for development. Appointing a minister for International Cooperation to shape the Dutch globalisation strategy and oversee its coherent implementation. Adhering to the internationally agreed 0,7% target and additional finance for climate change. Making sure recognition of civil society as a vital aspect of development remains visible in both financial and policy commitments Investing in global citizenship, e.g. by supporting CSOs that are active in this field. Making sure that poverty reduction and fighting inequalities worldwide remain the primary focus of Dutch development policy, and that economic growth remains a tool within development cooperation, not a goal in itself. Leading in Aid Transparency by publication of project information and project results, and by calling on other governments to increase their performance.