New report highlights Saudi aid contribution to developing countries’ well-being
DJEDDAH: Since the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1970 calling on economically advanced countries to contribute at least 0.7% of their gross national income to developing countries in the form of aid, the global need for humanitarian and development aid has evolved in only one direction: upwards.
The latest Global Humanitarian Overview notes that 235 million people are in need and face an uncertain future, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered “the deepest global recession since the 1930s.”
Looking on the bright side, however, the past two decades have seen many organized aid conferences and fundraising events and a steady increase in the number of aid providers. The humanitarian and development assistance provided by Saudi Arabia alone is a testament to the significant impact that foreign aid, coupled with clear policies, effectiveness and accountability, has had on people’s lives. of beneficiary countries.
In 2020, the financial tracking service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showed that Saudi Arabia was the sixth most generous donor in the world, providing 3% of global humanitarian aid. In October 2021, the Kingdom ranked third among the world’s largest donors, with its share of humanitarian aid increasing to 5%.
For a while, Saudi Arabia’s aid neither received the media recognition it deserved nor gained prominence in international aid platforms. The Kingdom itself has not released any data or reports related to foreign aid, choosing to keep a low profile in line with Saudi culture and Islamic practice of preserving the dignity of the recipient when making charitable donations.
But now, a research paper titled “Why the World Needs a Partnership with Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s Global Development and Humanitarian Assistance” has shed light on how aid provided by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia to developing countries around the world has contributed significantly to their well-being.
Published by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, the document presents the Kingdom’s humanitarian and development program, describing the different categories of aid, where it is dispersed (by country and region), the targeted sectors and its evolution over time. . It also highlights Saudi assistance to developing countries in their efforts to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and support for refugees in the country.
The author of the article, Makki Hamid, director of research and information at the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, said that the Saudi Fund for Development, the Kingdom’s main provider of development assistance, generously funded projects in various fields, including health. , agriculture, irrigation, electricity and transport – over the years in a large number of countries.
“Saudi development assistance has been provided in the form of grants and concessional loans and has provided significant funding in the form of budget and deposits in the central banks of many low- and middle-income countries,” he said. told Arab News. “These budget supports and deposits help to strengthen and improve the economy of these countries.
As the document notes, Saudi Arabia has a long history of helping developing countries affected by natural disasters and countries in need of immediate assistance. It reported its aid data to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development – Development Assistance Committee for many years as an aggregate data set, until 2018, when it became participating member of the OECD-DAC, represented by KSRelief.
KSRelief has started collecting data from the Kingdom’s various aid providers to provide overseas aid through the financial tracking services of UNOCHA, the OECD-DAC and the International Transparency Initiative. ugly.
Currently, Saudi Arabia provides several categories of official development assistance, namely humanitarian aid (given in emergencies), development aid (to improve the economic and social well-being of developing countries ) and charitable aid (which is provided for cultural or religious purposes for such purposes as building mosques or supporting Hajj pilgrims).
Saudi ODA is provided in the form of financial assistance or in-kind assistance in the form of goods or services to a recipient’s organization or country. This may include food aid, vehicles, logistical support, medical supplies, drugs and equipment. Aid is provided through the Saudi Fund for Development, KSRelief and other donor entities registered in a unified database, the Saudi Aid Platform, established by royal decree in 2018.
In addition, Saudi Arabia provides bilateral assistance through governments, national non-governmental organizations, international NGOs and multilaterally through institutions such as relevant United Nations agencies and organizations of the Cross. -Red and Crescent.
Through strategic partnerships, Saudi Arabia, a founding member of the United Nations, provided financial assistance totaling $ 5.2 billion to various United Nations agencies, with the World Food Program receiving the most ($ 1.9 billion). dollars), followed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. in the Middle East ($ 955.5 million).
“Saudi Arabia provides bilateral assistance on the basis of a rigorous needs assessment to countries and institutions eligible to receive such assistance. Humanitarian and development projects are carefully identified and a risk assessment is carried out before funds are sent, ”Hamid told Arab News.
“Funding is also disbursed in installments linked to clear results. Monitoring and evaluation are carried out during the implementation period of the project to ensure that the aid reaches the beneficiaries and has the intended impact.
Among its many accomplishments, Saudi Arabia played a leading role in 2015 in shaping the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which primarily aims to reduce poverty by at least 50 percent of the population. ‘by 2030. From 2016 to October 2021, the Kingdom donated $ 24.04 billion. to low- and middle-income countries to enable them to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
A 2016 report from the United Nations Development Program noted that aid provided by Saudi Arabia between 2005 and 2014 represented 1.9% of its ODA / GNI, breaking the record for the highest percentage achieved by Saudi Arabia. a single donor.
In November 2020, as chair of the G20 summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was successful in mobilizing donors to commit significant funds to respond internationally to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Hamid’s report, the Kingdom’s international response to COVID-19 has amounted to more than $ 825 million managed by KSRelief, including vaccines, medical supplies and medical equipment for 33 countries.
Additional financial support of $ 10 million to the World Health Organization Solidarity Response Fund and approximately $ 300 million for vaccine research have been provided by the Kingdom.
Taken together, the records show that Saudi Arabia, whose politics have been guided by Islamic teachings since its founding, has contributed significantly to the well-being of over 150 countries for over 46 years (1975-2021 ) with assistance totaling $ 65.7 billion.
“The Kingdom is not a new donor. It has provided significant humanitarian and development assistance to many countries around the world, ”Hamid said, putting Saudi Arabia’s outsized contribution as an aid donor into perspective.
“However, in recent years, the aid provided by Saudi Arabia has been systematically documented and recorded on international aid platforms. In addition, there is a significant increase in the aid provided by the Kingdom to fight the pandemic and for emergencies to countries like Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Palestine. These are the factors that have contributed to the rise of Saudi Arabia’s global humanitarian rankings.
Last but not least, as the newspaper notes, Saudi Arabia is home to the sixth largest refugee population in the world. The 1.07 million refugees hosted by the Kingdom in recent years represent 5.5% of its population.
Unlike other countries that keep refugees in special camps, Saudi Arabia considers them visitors, grants them exemption from immigration fees, provides free health care and education to their children, and gives them permission to work.
This aid and support, contributing to the financial stability of visitors, amounted to $ 16.01 billion from 2011 to 2020.