How is Norwegian aid spent?

In 2020, Norway provided a total of NOK 39.5 billion in development aid. The aid for health increased considerably, and Syria was the largest recipient country for the fifth year in a row.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic threw the world into a crisis that is unprecedented in our time. 2020 was the year when positive developments were turned on their head and much of the progress in the world was reversed. One good piece of news is that both Norwegian aid and the total global aid are increasing at a time when it is more important than ever,’ says Bård Vegar Solhjell, Director General of Norad.
Norad will present the development aid statistics on Tuesday 20 April during the Tall som teller webinar. In total, we provided NOK 39.5 billion in development aid in 2020, an increase of NOK 1.7 billion from 2019. This is the highest amount ever. According to new figures from the OECD, aid transfers globally rose by USD 161 billion, which is an increase of 3.5 per cent or USD 8 billion from 2019.

More to health and the poorest 

The COVID-19 pandemic led to large amounts of aid being diverted last year. The figures show that health-related aid was the big winner.
‘These figures clearly show how Norway has played an important role in fighting the pandemic and its global ramifications. The pandemic cannot be overcome by one country alone – no one is safe until everyone is safe. Norwegian development aid funds have made a major contribution to ensuring fairer vaccine access for all countries,’ says the Minister for International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein.
In 2020, a total of NOK 2.8 billion of earmarked aid went towards fighting the pandemic and its ramifications for developing countries. The earmarked aid for health increased by more than 60% in 2020, from NOK 2.1 billion in 2019 to NOK 3.5 billion. In total, Norway contributed NOK 6.6 billion towards health-related aid in 2020, including core support for multilateral organisations that went towards health. 
‘I am particularly pleased that we have continued to provide development aid in a number of areas that have been crucial at a time when poverty in the world is increasing. Among other things, we have increased aid to the poorest countries – the so-called least developed countries – by NOK 700 million,’ says Ulstein. 

More support for the UN and civil society 

Norway is regarded as an important supporter of the UN system and other multilateral organisations working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Norwegian development aid through such organisations increased by NOK 1.8 billion from 2019 to 2020, amounting to NOK 23.5 billion last year, i.e. 59 per cent of the total Norwegian development aid.
Norway’s single largest partner is the World Bank Group, which received NOK 4.6 billion from Norway last year.
Almost a quarter (23%) of official Norwegian development aid went to partners in civil society in 2020. The actual amount given to civil society organisations has increased by NOK 3 billion since 2011, to NOK 9 billion. This is also an all-time record. 
‘Without the civil society organisations, we would not be able to reach the poorest countries and the most vulnerable people. They also help the authorities to account. The work they do is literally life-saving,’ says the Minister for International Development.
The largest civil society partners are the Norwegian Refugee Council (NOK 1 135 million), the Norwegian Red Cross (NOK 1 041 million), Norwegian Church Aid (NOK 667 million), Norwegian People’s Aid (NOK 458 million) and Save the Children Norway (NOK 389 million). 

Syria receives the most 

Syria is the country that receives the most aid from Norway, which is due to the ongoing conflict and the humanitarian crisis there. Last year, Norway gave NOK 948 million to Syria, primarily in the form of emergency assistance. Total emergency assistance from Norway was NOK 5.8 billion in 2020.
As in 2019, Ethiopia is the largest recipient of long-term development aid. The aid to Ethiopia increased by NOK 38 million from 2019, to NOK 736 million in 2020. Nine of the ten largest recipient countries are the same as in 2019. Mozambique is no longer on the list, while Indonesia has been added. 

Maintained support to the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative

In 2020, Norway provided NOK 3 billion towards efforts aimed at saving the rainforest. New this year is the major focus on ensuring universal, free access to detailed satellite images of the rainforest.
‘High-resolution satellite images give the rainforest countries, as well as companies, organisations and consumers, a better insight into what’s happening on the ground. This is crucial to boosting the efforts to reduce the destruction of the world’s rainforests,’ says Sveinung Rotevatn, Minister of Climate and the Environment.
Rotevatn emphasises that we are completely dependent on saving the rainforest if we are to achieve the goals in the Paris Agreement, the goals for biodiversity, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
‘How countries change their policy going forward will determine whether we manage to limit global warming and the destruction of the rainforest. This is vital to preventing a deterioration in the world’s food security. Supporting tropical countries in reducing deforestation is a good climate policy and a good development policy,’ says Rotevatn.

Why are these statistics important? 

  • In 2020, Norwegian development aid amounted to 1.11 per cent of gross national income (GNI). We thus reached the target of 1 per cent of GNI by a good margin. As in previous years, we were well within the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNI. In recent years, the Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) average has remained at around 0.3 per cent of GNI.

  • In 2020, Norway was one of six countries that achieved the UN target, along with Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, the UK and Germany.

  • The development aid statistics form an important basis for decision making regarding the further design of Norwegian development aid. The statistics also make it possible to trace the funding and see what results have been achieved. Last but not least, the development aid statistics help ensure transparency about official development aid streams to developing countries.

  • Norwegian development aid statistics comply with the reporting directives from the OECD- DAC. As a result, we can compare development assistance efforts across countries as the reporting is standardised, and this enables us to maintain an overview and coordinate international efforts. 
Published 20.04.2021
Last updated 20.04.2021