Development finance standards

Migration-related activities in official development assistance (ODA)


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Official development assistance (ODA) to migration projects relates mainly to support given to developing countries. One key element for a programme to be ODA-eligible is to aim primarily to promote development in the recipient country, rather than to address domestic concerns in donor countries. The DAC has agreed on principles and criteria to guide ODA reporting in these situations with the goal of preserving the integrity of ODA. These rules do not affect the clarifications on in-donor refugee costs agreed in 2017, which remain in place and concern ODA disbursed by providers at home.

Guiding principles

Development as a primary purpose 
As for all ODA, the reporting of migration-related activities is guided by the general rule that the main objective is the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries. When assessing the ODA eligibility of activities in the field of migration, the primary purpose must therefore be considered.
No diversion of ODA towards donors’ immediate interests on migration
There should be no diversion of ODA towards providers’ immediate interests on migration at the expense of long-term sustainable development. When different ministries (e.g. migration, development …) are involved in the programming of migration-related activities, in order to avoid the diversion of ODA resources, the authorities responsible for reporting ODA figures need to verify the primary objective of the programmes concerned.
Mutual benefits recognised but developing countries’ interests remain at the centre of ODA eligibility

While benefits to provider countries do not preclude ODA eligibility, development cooperation should not be used as a vehicle to promote the provider’s domestic migration agenda. The promotion of economic development and welfare of a developing country must come before any other goals. It is members’ responsibility to present a clear rationale for ODA eligibility.

ODA is aligned with development, humanitarian and human rights objectives and principles
Migration-related activities included in ODA should comply with development, humanitarian and human rights objectives and principles, including the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. They should generally be aligned with partner countries’ own priorities and their overall development strategy. Activities that neglect the rights of forcibly displaced persons and migrants do not qualify as ODA.
ODA integrity is preserved through a focus on developing countries’ main benefit
Activities with the main benefit to ODA-eligible countries or ODA-eligible organisations that either promote safe and regular pathways for migration or that address irregular and unsafe migration, not promoting a provider country’s domestic migration agenda, and that protect people’s lives and human rights, qualify as ODA.
Additional safeguard
Activities that intercept and return migrants with the main objective to restrict migration to provider countries are excluded from ODA.


For more details about the ODA-eligibility of migration-related activities, please refer to our Frequently asked questions.

Key resources


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