Donor Profile


Last updated: January 15, 2024

ODA Spending

How much ODA does Belgium contribute?

In 2022 Belgium provided US$2.7 billion in ODA funding, according to the OECD’s preliminary figures. By volume, Belgium ranked 17th amongst DAC donors. In 2022 Belgium’s ODA/GNI was 0.45%, ranking 13th amongst DAC countries.

How is Belgium's ODA changing?

Belgium’s ODA volumes have increased by 8%, from US$2.5 billion in 2018 to US$2.8 billion in 2022. ODA/GNI fluctuated between 2018 and 2022, with a peak in 2020 at 0.48%. This is still far from Belgium’s stated commitment to reach 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2030.

Excluding in-donor refugee costs, support to Ukraine (starting 2022), and COVID-19 vaccine dose donations (starting 2021), Belgium’s highest ODA/GNI ratio between 2018 and 2022 stood at 0.45% in 2020.

How is Belgium's ODA allocated?

In 2022, US$1.2 billion (42%) of Belgium’s ODA was spent on: contributions to the EU ( US$826 million, 30%); in-donor refugee costs ( US$262 million, 9%); support to Ukraine ( US$73 million, 3%); COVID-19 vaccine dose donations ( US$21 million, 1%).

42% of ODA to these causes was much higher than the total DAC share for the same year (25%). This allocation leaves US$1.7 billion of ODA for development priorities.

In 2021, 51% of Belgium’s ODA was channeled bilaterally (including direct and earmarked funding), which fell below the DAC average of 59%. Belgium’s share of ODA channeled as earmarked funding through multilaterals is relatively low at 8%, compared to the 16% DAC average.

In 2021, 49% of total gross ODA was core funding to multilaterals, compared to the DAC average of 41%.

Bilateral Spending

In line with its development priorities, Belgium’s bilateral ODA is focused on low-income countries in Africa.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

In 2021, Belgium’s funding to core multilaterals was US$1.3 billion, or 49% of total gross ODA. US$708 million (55%) was allocated to EU institutions, with a further US$192 million (15%) allocated to IDA. Only 7% of Belgium’s multilateral ODA went to multilateral institutions other than the EU, MDBs, and UN agencies.

In 2009, Belgium adopted a policy of “core funding" for international organizations operating as multilateral cooperation partners. It aimed to ensure stable and sufficient funding to enable international partner organizations to fulfill their core mandates, achieve convincing results, and give Belgium a greater influence in the UNdevelopment system. The “core funding" policy was developed in a 2011 policy note and enshrined in the 2013 law on development cooperation. The 2013 law indicated that a maximum of 20 international organizations can be selected to receive voluntary contributions from Belgium. In 2015, by Royal Decree, 15 international partner organizations (with the World Bank Group, including GPE, EITI, and EGPS, counting as one) were selected.

Multiannual core contributions are provided on a four-year basis. The latest contributions were fixed by the current government, from 2021 to 2024. They maintained the list of 2015 but changed the level of contributions to some organizations. Funding for multilateral organizations come primarily from the budget line Allocation de base - Contributions volontaires pluriannnuelles aux organisations internationales partenaire de la coopération multilatérale, except for CGIAR, which comes from Allocation de base - Politique scientifique. The list of multilateral partner organizations does not prohibit the government from also providing earmarked or one-off contributions to non-partner organizations, but such funds must come from a different budget line, which can be more flexible but also more limited.

In general, Belgium justifies its decision to support a smaller number of partner organizations as an effort to minimize the fragmentation of relatively small resources and aims to establish closer privileged relations and increase Belgium’s influence within these international bodies. This increased focus is in line with 2020 OECD - DAC peer review recommendations.

What is the future of Belgium's ODA?

Upside estimates for Belgium’s ODA in 2023 and 2024 stand at US$3.4 billion and US$3.3 billion respectively. Downside estimates stand at US$3 billion and US$2.9 billion respectively. When excluding in-donor refugee costs and support to Ukraine, estimates for 2023 and 2024 stand at US$2.8 billion (upside) and US$2.4 billion (downside).

Politics & Priorities

What is the current state of Belgium's politics?

Belgium is a federal state, where power is divided between the federal government, three linguistic communities (French-speaking, Flemish-speaking, and German-speaking), and three regions (Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels). Development policy is the prerogative of the federal government, whilst both the regional and the federal government share environmental and climate-related competencies. The head of the government is the prime minister, currently Alexander De Croo ( Open VLD).

The political landscape is fragmented, with three main political “families”: the Liberals, the Christian Democrats, and the Socialists. Each family then split into two, either Flemish- or French-speaking, parties in the 70s down language lines. These sister parties are closely linked, but their political positions occasionally vary. The two Green parties (the French-speaking Ecolo and Flemish Groen) were set up in the 80s and work closely together. These two parties form one group in Parliament but respond to different regions. As such, the parties are not always able to systematically align their positions.

The only national party is the Marxist Workers Party (PTB). While PTB is very popular in Wallonia, it is mostly an opposition party and unlikely to enter a government. In Flanders, two major parties do not have an equivalent in Wallonia: the NVA (New Flemish Alliance) and the Vlaams Belang (right-wing and nationalist).

There are significant differences in terms of political views between Wallonia and Flanders. NVA and Vlaams Belang obtained nearly 50% of the votes in Flanders at the last elections in 2019, whilst Wallonia leaned center-left. These differences and the fragmentation of the political landscape make it difficult to form a governmental coalition. The next elections, scheduled for May 2024, are expected to result in a lengthy government formation process.

A recent survey commissioned by the CNCD-11.11.11 showed that one in two Belgians supports an increase in Belgian development assistance. In June 2022, the government at the “inner cabinet” level (known as the Kern, consisting of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers) decided to enshrine in law the principle of an ODA growth trajectory aiming for 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2030. However, the law is yet to be adopted, and the government failed to agree on the exact trajectory. It is estimated that an additional EUR400 million (US$421 million) of ODA per year is needed to reach this target. Given the current political context, the government is unlikely to achieve this and no coalition partner is pushing this agenda.

Who is responsible for allocating ODA?

The DGD of FPS Foreign Affairs is responsible for development cooperation strategies and monitors program implementation, and administers around 56% of Belgium’s ODA. ODA is also partly managed by other federal public services, such as Finance and Fedasil. Other key government bodies include Enabel, which is a development agency, and the Belgian DFI.

What are Belgium's development priorities?

Belgium’s development cooperation policy is set out in the 2013 Law on Development Cooperation. The general objective is sustainable human development, with a focus on sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and socio-economic and socio-cultural development.

However, in practice, there is no unified development policy as the 2013 law is considered overly broad and outdated. The government’s priorities and approaches are defined in Exposés d’orientation, where each minister presents their priorities to the legislature. Annually, ministers present notes de politique générale, which outline the actions that they will undertake with their administration. This means that each minister ultimately strongly influences development policy. Belgium also has strategic notes on sectorial policies, although most have not been recently updated.

Belgium prioritizes tackling fragility, social protection, private sector development, climate change, digital technology for development, food security, gender equality, health, and human rights-based approaches.

Belgium’s priority countries are evolving in line with its focus on fragility. Since 2015, six MICs have been removed from Belgium’s list of priority countries, while two fragile states have been added. Belgium now has 14 priority countries: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Niger, Mali, Ethiopia, Syria, Guinea, Morocco, Mozambique, Uganda, Occupied Palestine, Rwanda, Senegal, and Tanzania. Each country has multiannual development programs which are not public.

Belgium is a strong multilateral player and has mobilized the international community on issues such as conflict prevention (mainly in Central Africa and the Sahel), gender equality (especially SRHR through the She Decides Initiative), and children’s rights. Belgium’s development priorities are also closely aligned with Team Europe Initiatives.


The budget is drafted by the government and amended and adopted by the Parliament following the same procedure as an ordinary law. The process starts with evaluations of the revenues and expenditures by each ministry, which are then discussed with the Budget Minister and finalized by around June-July. In parallel, Belgium, like other EU member states, presents its stability and convergence program to the EC, which in turn releases recommendations. The EC recommendations and the outcome of sectoral discussions shape the draft budget, with negotiations between ministers spanning from September to October.

The budget bill must be sent to the Chamber of Representatives no later than October 15th. The draft budget is discussed in the Finance and Budget Committee, with sectoral committees invited to give their opinion. After a vote in the Committee, there are debates, amendments, and a vote in plenary. The vote takes place no later than December 31st.

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At Donor Tracker, we prefer not to call it aid.

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Nadia Setiabudi

Nadia Setiabudi


The Donor Tracker team, along with many DAC donor countries, no longer uses the term "foreign aid". In the modern world, "foreign aid" is monodirectional and insufficient to describe the complex nature of global development work, which, when done right, involves the establishment of profound economic and cultural ties between partners.

We strongly prefer the term Official Development Assistance (ODA) and utilize specific terms such as grant funding, loans, private sector investment, etc., which provide a clearer picture of what is concretely occurring. “Foreign aid” will be referenced for accuracy when referring to specific policies that use the term. Read more in this Donor Tracker Insight.

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Nadia Setiabudi

Nadia Setiabudi