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The DAC List of ODA Recipients designed for statistical purposes. It helps to measure and classify aid and other resource flows originating in donor countries. It is not designed as guidance for aid or other preferential treatment.
It includes all low- and middle-income countries (as defined by the World Bank, based on gross national income [GNI] per capita), except for those that are members of the G8 or the European Union (including countries with a firm accession date for EU membership). In addition, the list separately includes all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as defined by the UN.
The DAC reviews and revises the List every three years.* Countries that have exceeded the high-income threshold for three consecutive years at the time of the review are removed. In line with this review process, the DAC last reviewed the List in 2020. The next triennial review of the DAC List will take place in the second half of 2023.
(*) During the 2017 triennial review, the DAC agreed to defer decision on graduation of the Cook Islands until reliable GNI per capita data could be compiled, following which a special review took place in July 2019. The DAC agreed that the Cook Islands would graduate from the List on 1 January 2020.
Prior to 2017, decisions on graduation were applied retroactively to 1 January of the year of the review. Starting with the 2017 review of the List, decisions on graduation take effect as from 1 January of the year following the review.**
(**) During the 2020 review of the List, however, the DAC agreed, in light of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, to an exceptional one-year delay to updating the List of countries that are eligible to receive ODA, thereby postponing the date of effect of graduation to 1 January 2022 for the countries that met the graduation criterion.
Changes in the DAC List of ODA Recipients reflect substantial improvements in global prosperity over recent decades. Compared to the List as it stood in 1970, only 17 countries have been added, 11 of these being former republics of the Soviet Union. By contrast, 61 countries have left the list, and three more will leave on 1 January 2022, essentially because of increases in their per capita income.
In 2018, the DAC agreed on rules and criteria for reinstating a country on the DAC List of ODA Recipients that had graduated. In 2022, the DAC proposed a revised methodology for the reinstatement of countries on the List, to shorten the reinstatement period so that the date of effect – for countries that qualify and agree to reinstatement – is immediate upon decision by the DAC and retroactive to the beginning of the same calendar year.
The DAC has collected data on aid flows since its inception in 1961.
As regards bilateral flows, early data collection related to the following recipients:
These recipients were eligible for ODA after it was adopted as a concept in 1969.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Communist countries in Asia - particularly China and Viet Nam - started to receive large amounts of aid, and were added to the data collection. Spain left the list at its request in 1983.
The end of the Cold War signaled the emergence of new economic and political realities. In 1993 - with new aid requirements in the transition economies of eastern Europe and reduced aid needs in East Asia due to rapid progress - a new list was devised. It was divided into two parts:
Data on aid to the following CEEC/NIS countries in transition, first collected for 1990 flows, were recorded against Part II of the list (as “official aid”) until and including 2004: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine. Flows to Moldova were recorded against this category up to and including 1996.
The two-part List of Aid Recipients was reviewed every three years. Countries above the World Bank threshold for high-income countries (per capita annual income around USD 9 000 at the time) for three consecutive years progressed from Part I to Part II of the list at the end of a three-year notice period.
Other countries could also be transferred to Part II after a notice period if they were above the World Bank lending limit (around USD 5 000 annually) for three consecutive years, following consideration by the DAC of their development and resource status. One country transferred in the opposite direction, from Part II to Part I.
With successive revisions, the two-part list became increasingly complex. At the same time, aid to more advanced developing and transition countries declined as they became more prosperous, with several former Soviet bloc states joining the European Union and becoming donors themselves. In 2005, the DAC therefore reverted to a single List of ODA Recipients, abolishing Part II of the list and ceasing data collection on official aid to those Part II countries. In addition to a major simplification, the single list was organised on more objective needs-based criteria.
Data on total aid to Part I countries (ODA) and total aid to Part II countries (OA) were compiled according to the list in force in the year in question. However, when a country was added to or removed from an income group in Part I, totals for the groups affected were adjusted retroactively to maximize comparability over time with reference to the latest list.
After 1989, the following were added to the DAC List of ODA Recipients: Albania (1989); the Black Communities of South Africa (1991 - now South Africa); Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (1992); Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan (1993); Palestinian Administered Areas (1994; now listed as West Bank and Gaza Strip); Moldova (1997); Belarus, Libya and Ukraine transferred from Part II (2005).
Eritrea, formerly part of Ethiopia, has been recorded as a separate country from 1993.
The former United States Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands has been progressively replaced by its independent successor states, viz. Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia (1992); Palau and Northern Marianas Islands (1994).
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), and Slovenia have been recorded as separate countries from 1993. Further updates of the list took place to separately identify Montenegro and Serbia from 2006 and separately identify Kosovo from 2009.
South Sudan was added to the list in 2011.
Over the same period, the following countries and territories were removed from the DAC List of ODA Recipients: Portugal (1991); French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and Saint Pierre and Miquelon (1992); Greece (1995); Bahamas, Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, Singapore and United Arab Emirates (1996); Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Hong Kong (China), Israel and Chinese Taipei (1997); Aruba, the British Virgin Islands, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Korea, Libya, Macau (China), Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia and the Northern Marianas Islands (2000); Malta and Slovenia (2003); Bahrain (2005); Saudi Arabia and Turks and Caicos Islands (2008), Barbados, Croatia, Mayotte, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago (2011); Anguilla and Saint Kitts and Nevis (2014); Chile, Seychelles and Uruguay (2018); Cook Islands (2020); and Antigua and Barbuda (2022).
For the DAC, the term "developing country" employed without qualification has generally been taken to mean a country eligible for ODA.
Other organisations have their own definitions: the World Bank usually uses the term to refer to low and middle-income countries, assessed by reference to per capita GNI.
The DAC List of ODA Recipients is consistent with World Bank practice, except that it excludes countries that are members of the G8 or the EU, or that have a date of admission to the EU and lists the LDCs separately.
Other organisations, treaties etc. often have a membership category designed for “developing countries”, and use the term to refer to the countries in that category.
These differences in coverage are usually minor. DAC statistics based on the DAC List of ODA Recipients provide an authoritative guide to aid flows which is accepted and used by donors, recipients and international bodies.
Any reference in the present or past DAC Lists to states, entities or territories shall neither imply recognition nor approval by OECD members of the designations used. The designations “countries” and “territories” are used as generic terms and do not carry any special meaning as to the political or legal classification of the recipients concerned.