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From Recipient to Donor: The Changing Face of Aid

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Over a year ago I visited a remarkable country.  Rich in history, art, culture and beautiful landscapes, this country has traditionally received foreign aid due to its general low income level but is now providing aid to other countries.  I was amazed to see its recent monumental progress in science and technology although it is true that there is a long way to go for the majority of its population.  I am posting a photograph that I took while visiting there – can you tell which country it is?

Kuchin Backwaters, photo by Ruth Levush, Feb. 2011.

This wonderful country was included, along with eighteen other countries and the European Union, in a study recently published by the Law Library of Congress that analyzes laws and policies regarding development assistance.

The study, titled Regulation of Foreign Aid in Selected Countries, is comprised of individual country reports as well as a comparative analysis and GIS maps depicting comparisons of surveyed countries’ official development assistance (ODA) monetary contributions and aid allocation focus.  The countries selected include members as well as nonmembers of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and countries with established and emerging economies, like the country where the above photo was taken.

The countries included in the study were Australia, Brazil, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Development Assistance Survey Countries Map, Regulation of Foreign Aid in Selected Countries 2011/2012 (Law Library of Congress Report (LL File No. 2011-006054)).

In addition to providing historical and background information on international cooperation agreements regarding ODA and statistical data regarding both ODA and private contribution figures, the individual reports highlight priorities utilized by donor countries in selecting recipients and in determining the types of development assistance they provide.  The reports also include information on foreign agencies that are responsible for ODA planning and implementation and discuss foreign countries’ appropriations processes for allocation of their ODA budgets.  The reports list restrictions imposed under foreign countries’ laws on the provision of ODA as well as on private contributions.  In addition to ODA and private donations, the reports discuss the contributions of different countries to development assistance by additional means, for example by providing scholarships to foreign students, instituting guest worker programs, facilitating remittances, and providing emergency aid.

The levels and types of foreign aid are topics of discussion by countries around the world, including the U.S.  We hope that this study provides some comparative perspectives relevant to this discussion.  We invite you to read the study.  After doing so, can you guess the country in which the photo above was taken? It’s name starts with an I.

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