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Top Bilateral Donors: A Primer

International development has seen its donor community expand over the last few years. Amid a greater awareness on the global poor’s plight, more and more corporations, foundations and individuals – from social entrepreneurs to billionaire philanthropists – are joining the aid-giving fray.

Bilateral donors, however, remain the key players in this industry. In 2010, member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee, or 23 of the world’s richest countries, disbursed nearly $129 billion, or 90 percent of the more than $143 billion total from all donors that report their official development assistance to OECD, according to preliminary data. OECD tracks aid from more than 70 donors, which also include multilateral agencies, emerging donor nations, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Donor countries rely mainly on their own agencies to manage their ODA. Some have created offices with the sole purpose of overseeing aid programs, like the United States and Australia, while others, including the Netherlands and Denmark, have put their foreign affairs ministries in charge of development cooperation.