Latin America and the Caribbean: a changing aid pattern

OECD Observer

In 1997 DAC aid to Latin America and the Caribbean reached some US$4 billion, which was 10% of DAC’s total bilateral disbursements.

Japan was the largest donor, with 35% of total commitments, ahead of the United States, which accounted for 20% of the total. Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom had 6% each. The main beneficiaries of that aid were Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. The volume of aid has been stable since the 1960s, but the sectoral distribution of that aid has changed a lot in the last ten years. The lion’s share of the aid, or some 45% of it, tends these days to be directed into social services. Some 20% of the total aid is divided evenly between Bolivia and Peru. For several countries, like Guatemala, Haïti and Nicaragua, which each get about 5% of the total disbursement to the region, education, health and the development of civil society appear to be the most important. Agriculture absorbs more than 60% of disbursements in Equator. Meanwhile, in Brazil, debt repayment and reorganisation is no longer as important as it was a decade ago and today most of Brazil’s aid is directed at water and sanitation, agriculture and energy. 

Note: Readers wanting to know more about where aid to Latin America, or any other country goes, whether it is spent on health or education and how it has changed over the years, should consult the Creditor Reporting System (CRS) of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The CRS is first and foremost a statistical database containing financial data on DAC aid activities since 1973. But it also includes descriptive information on projects. The frequency of reporting varies from one aid agency to another. Some of the latest data relate to projects approved 1-2 months ago, other agencies are finalising reporting on projects approved in 1998. The most recent CRS data are published by region. The whole series is available online.

For further information, please consult or send an e-mail to 

©OECD Observer No 219, December 1999 

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