Financing Refugee-Hosting Contexts: An Analysis of the DAC’s Contribution to Burden- and Responsibility-Sharing in Supporting Refugees and their Host Communities

Kathleen Forichon

OECD Development Co-operation Working Paper 48, December 2018


This report examines financing for refugee-hosting contexts by members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), in order to construct a baseline for monitoring progress towards the goals of the Global Compact on Refugees (“Refugee Compact”) for “funding and effective and efficient use of resources” as a key tool for effective burden- and responsibility-sharing among the international community. Data was collected via a survey sent to DAC members to identify trends in official development assistance (ODA), plans for future funding, and other, non-funding efforts and responses. Key findings include:

  • The majority of DAC members intend to maintain or increase ODA spending on refugees and host communities, which totaled almost US$26 billion over 2015-17, contributed either bilaterally, through pooled funds or through international organizations.
  • Overall, there is a heavy reliance on humanitarian assistance for refugee hosting contexts (70 percent of ODA), and a preference for short-term rather than multi-year funding. While humanitarian assistance is critical for meeting immediate needs in crises, protracted refugee situations might not be receiving the assistance that they need. The author notes that contributions from other development partners such as Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) are beyond the scope of the survey. The growing engagement of MDBs will be catalytic in drawing other development partners, and also indicates a trend toward greater development spending in refugee-hosting contexts.
  • Nevertheless, DAC members are integrating issues related to refugees into their development policies—a positive change that can help donors support the commitments of the Refugee Compact.
  • The Middle East receives the most ODA from DAC members to support refugees and their host communities (35 percent of geographically allocated contributions). Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq together account for a third of ODA allocations to refugee-hosting contexts. The author suggests that contributions to international organizations can provide funding to contexts that otherwise do not receive high levels of donor attention.
  • Donors are, for the most part, contributing ODA where it is needed. However, in some cases, certain contexts may receive less attention from the international community than others, e.g. three of the 21 major refugee-hosting contexts (Iran, Rwanda and Burundi) did not make it to the list of top 21 ODA recipients from DAC members.
  • There is little accessible data on ODA to programs and projects that support refugees and their host communities, and greater investments in data are needed.
  • In addition to funding, DAC members are also supporting the Refugee Compact through policy changes and advocacy.

The data presented in this report provides insights into the efforts donors are making towards the goals of the Refugee Compact, and will inform discussions about the most effective types of financing for situations of forced displacement.