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The large differences in domestic financing capacities illustrate the continued importance of ODA and international partnerships for countries with the greatest resource constraints. The urgency of these commitments becomes particularly clear when additional demographic factors are taken into account. At present trends most of the world’s children will soon live in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), with particularly high population shares in sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNICEF estimates Africa will be home to one in three of the world’s children by 2050.
These countries already face serious structural challenges for achieving sustainable development, including high levels of deprivation in areas like child health, poverty and education.. Large populations of young people also live in many Low and lower middle income countries, where fertility rates have already started to decline. Young populations offer considerable opportunities to reap demographic dividends when large cohorts of young adults enter the work force. But there is also a risk that financial allocations to children and youth will stagnate or even decrease in real per capita terms, if scarce resources need to be divided among many children and youth. At current trends it seems unlikely that many low and middle income countries will be able to make the requisite investments that would enable them to reap the full benefits from ongoing demographic transformations. ODA to child- and youth-focused services should be prioritized in these contexts, to both strengthen the catalytic development function of ODA and to set countries on longer-term paths of inclusive and sustainable growth.
The AAAA recognizes the needs of low and lower middle income countries, by pledging to support countries that face particular challenges in making the requisite investments in children and youth (paras 7 and 78). However, as with domestic public finance, monitoring of ODA to child- and youth-focused purposes is complicated by lack of detailed reporting on child- and youth-focused expenditures. For example, there is no child- or youth-focused equivalent to the OECD-DAC gender equality marker, which tracks international public resources to improve gender outcomes.
Notwithstanding limited data some indications can be drawn from existing ODA statistics, by focusing on ODA to sectors that tend to benefit children and youth (Figure 5). These data suggest that OECD DAC donors are broadly responsive to continued needs for international collaboration around child- and youth-focused investments in low and lower middle income countries. Trends in ODA receipts (absolute amounts) are positive in key sectors such as basic education and especially health care and population policies and programmes. However, ODA disbursements tend to fluctuate significantly between years and flows are still comparatively low in new child-focused priority areas of the SDGs and FfD like secondary education and basic nutrition. ODA to other emerging priority areas, such as early childhood development, cannot be monitored at this moment, due to data limitations.
The provision of ODA to disadvantaged children and youth has also improved through a number of important new initiatives that correspond directly to key commitments of the AAAA for children and youth.