Where’s the Money: Financial Flows to the Developing World

By Michael Jacobs

In order to provide some perspective on the shifting composition of development related financial flows over the last few decades, we assembled graphs using data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development to illustrate trends in Official Development Assistance (ODA), Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and remittances. The numbers are compared for developing countries in three discrete regions: Asia, the Caribbean/Americas, and Africa.  After a quick analysis of the results, a few common themes are apparent: FDI now exceeds ODA flows for developing countries in all three regions, and ODA flows, long flat relative to FDI in Asia and the Americas, are now leveling off in Africa as well.

This new reality reflects a paradigm shift in how we should view development in Africa, and globally– ODA will continue to play a critical development role, but as a force to mobilize, direct, and augment the substantial financial flows sourced from elsewhere.  These snapshots illustrate clearly that the ODA “bull market” is a thing of the past, and development strategy must adjust accordingly.

Asia remit

  • In Asia today, FDI far exceeds ODA flows, and while remittances are substantial, remittance flows are also dwarfed by FDI. We have to look all the way back to 1985 to see a point at which ODA flows were greater than FDI– while ODA remained flat and even declined slightly in the 1990’s, FDI exploded.

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Takeaways from the 2014 State of Food Insecurity in the World Report

Photo taken from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center's flickr photostream used under a Creative Commons license

Photo taken from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center’s flickr photostream used under a Creative Commons license

By Jeremiah Magpile and Caitlin Allmaier

On September 16, the Food and Agricultural Organization published its annual State of Food Insecurity in the World Report, which tracks regional progress on Millennium Development Goal 1 using indicators related to access, availability, stability, and utilization. The report concluded that global efforts to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015 have been effective, and that MDG-1 is within reach for numerous areas of the world. Despite broad progress, however, regional disparities remain; a full quarter of the world’s hungry now reside in sub-Saharan Africa, and the region will need accelerated support to have any hope of meeting MDG-1 by 2015. Further, Asia still continues to have the highest number of undernourished people, despite Southeast Asia meeting the World  having already met the more stringent 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) hunger target. Below are other takeaways from the report: Continue reading

Four Takeaways from the 2013 U.N. Procurement Report

By Charles Rice and Julia Marvin

The U.N. released its 2013 Annual Statistical Report on Procurement on July 10, and the report provides some useful insights into trends in U.N. procurement practice.  As defined by the CSIS Report, A New Development Agenda, procurement is the “purchasing of goods and services, including all government expenditures except staff costs and transfer payments, for the benefit of a government agency or other public authority.” In recent years, there has been a recognition of procurement’s potential development impact, particularly when sourced from emerging or transition economies.

  1. Total United Nations Procurement is growing

United Nations procurement rose again this year to $16.08 billion, and has risen a total of 16.6 percent since 2009.  UN and global procurement spending continues to grow, meaning there is a greater potential development impact from responsible and sustainably sourced procurement.  Sourcing procurement from developing and transition economies offers economic opportunity to local vendors, but also a window to increase transparency, efficiency, and fairness in the public procurement systems of developing economies.  As the U.N. begins to consider procurement in relation to its broader mandate, we can expect procurement to be a development focus for years to come.

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A Quick Breakdown of the U.S.-Africa Business Summit

By Julia Marvin

The first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit took place in Washington earlier this week bringing more than 40 African Heads of State and representatives from the U.S. public and private sector. The Summit sought to strengthen trade and investment ties with Africa while highlighting U.S. commitments to security, democratic development, and the people of Africa. Despite concerns regarding the extent to which the Summit can bolster trade relations with one of the world’s fastest growing regions, the administration announced several deliverables. However, specifics for the realization of these goals remains unclear amidst questions regarding the Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization and fiscal uncertainty in Washington.

Here are some takeaways:

Africa Summit

Photos courtesy of USAID and the State Department’s Flickr photostream used under a creative commons license.

Julia Marvin is a researcher with the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS.

Highlights of the Human Development Report 2014

By Julia Marvin

On July 24, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the 2014 Human Development Report: Sustaining Human Progress. The annual report measures global well-being by collating data on life expectancy at birth, mean and expected years of education, GNI per capita, HDI value (2012), and measures of inequality including inequality in income, the Palma ratio, and the Gini coefficient. Below are a few highlights from this year’s report:

Progress in human development is slowing down

As shown above, the HDI growth rate slowed in the last five years across all four human development groups identified by the UNDP – very high, high, medium, and low. This is a different tone than the 2013 report which highlighted rapid growth in human development in more than 40 developing countries over the last decade. For donors, this means dealing with human vulnerability– scenarios by which people’s capabilities and choices are decreased — as soon as possible to avoid a disruption of growth and to secure existing gains.


Slowing of HDI growth, Human Development Report 2014, pg. 3

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