Official Development Assistance (ODA) update

Please refer to ODA review for the latest information on ODA.

Some of ESRC’s international development research funding opportunities are classified as Official Development Assistance (ODA). These include, but are not limited to, GCRF, Newton Fund and ESRC-FCDO funded programmes. As such, benefits to the UK are likely to be the secondary consideration and should not lead to a project being funded if it does not primarily deliver the development objective. The fund will provide opportunities for excellent research with economic or societal impact. 

In many cases, this will involve the co-production of knowledge and impact activities with those from other disciplines as well as in the voluntary sector, the business community, public sector bodies or the wider public both in the UK and internationally. Applicants are encouraged to consider carefully how best to build links and contacts with potential users and beneficiaries of the activity at the earliest possible stages of design and development, and to work towards co-production of knowledge with research users where appropriate.

Funding opportunities that are classified as ODA will be clearly identified on individual call web pages and documentation. All applications for schemes which are ODA classified will be assessed on their ODA eligibility. It will be important to ensure that it is clear in the application how it is ODA eligible as defined by “administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective”. More detailed guidance will be provided in relevant call specification documents.

There are guidelines to ODA eligibility but slight differences in context and detail within applications will impact on the assessment of whether an activity or project would or would not be ODA eligible. Therefore when trying to decide whether an activity is ODA eligible, it is important to focus on the questions which would typically be asked for by the OECD.

Questions you may wish to consider when writing your proposal regarding ODA eligibility include:

  • Is the project addressing the economic development and welfare of an ODA eligible country?
  • Is there a development need that my project or activity is addressing?
  • Are the countries involved on the DAC List of ODA Recipients (the Development Assistant Committee of the OECD) or will countries on the DAC list directly benefit from the research?
  • Is my activity credible or is there evidence of the need?
  • Would this project or activity be applied in an ODA eligible country – when, how and with whom?
  • What would the impact of my project or activity be, and who would benefit?
  • How does my project or activity contribute to sustainable development?
  • What would success for this activity look like?
  • How would success or impact be measured?

Applicants should ensure they have considered existing advice on ODA eligibility. Any queries about the ODA eligibility of projects should be raised with the ESRC contact named in the call specification document before submitting an application.

For more details about ODA see Is it ODA? (PDF on OECD website). All UK aid spending for international development is scrutinised by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) which contributes to the accountability of UK ODA spend by examining whether it is delivering value for money.