Fundamental Principles of ODA

Is it ODA? states that: ODA is defined as those flows to countries and territories on the DAC List of ODA Recipients and to multilateral development institutions which are:

  1. provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies; and
  2. each transaction of which: a) is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective; and b) is concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25% (discounted at a rate of 10%).

All awards made by GCRF delivery partners (UKRI and National Academies) automatically comply with 1. and 2.b). Applicants will need to ensure that 2.a) is met by the proposal submitted to delivery partners and the activities conducted under the award.

ODA Guidance

1) DAC List of ODA Recipients

The DAC List of ODA Recipients shows all countries and territories eligible to receive official development assistance (ODA). These consist of all low and middle income countries based on gross national income (GNI) per capita as published by the World Bank.

The Development Assistant Committee revises the list on a triennial basis. Countries that have exceeded the high-income threshold for three consecutive years at the time of the review are removed.

2) ODA Compliant Research Activities

he Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines ODA compliant research activities as follows:

Research includes financing by the official sector, whether in the donor country or elsewhere, of research into the problems of developing countries. This may be either (i) undertaken by an agency or institution whose main purpose is to promote the economic growth or welfare of developing countries, or (ii) commissioned or approved, and financed or part-financed, by an official body from a general purpose institution with the specific aim of promoting the economic growth or welfare of developing countries. Research undertaken as part of the formulation of aid programmes in central or local government departments or aid agencies is considered as an administrative cost. (DAC Statistical Reporting Directives, 51.iv)

In addition the OECD further specifies the following in relation to ODA compliant research: Only research directly and primarily relevant to the problems of developing countries may be counted as ODA. This includes research into tropical diseases and developing crops designed for developing country conditions. The costs may still be counted as ODA if the research is carried out in a developed country. (Is it ODA?)

The fund can support research capacity building to address the development issues, for example, to increase the skills and knowledge base and support the development of the research capability within developing countries. Capacity building should be aimed at improving the ability to undertake and disseminate research in order to promote the welfare and economic development of the developing countries.

3) Demonstrating ODA Compliance

Whether completing the ODA compliance section of a proposal or justifying a change to the project plan, there are key factors that need to be considered to ensure that reviewers and assessors can agree with the assessment of ODA compliance

  • External validation and evidence – provide references and evidence from recognised organisations that demonstrate the development challenge which is being addressed
  • Quantification – provide estimates of the scale of the challenge and the quantified benefits that could be realised if the proposed approaches/interventions are ultimately successful

There are key approaches and resources that can be adopted to support the creation of an ODA compliance statement.


  • Have other researchers identified and published papers on the development challenge that is being addressed?
  • Are any NGOs working to support countries and local populations in the area of the development challenge
  • How does the identified development challenge fit with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), how does the project contribute to meeting the targets and indicators within the relevant goals, the 17 goals are underpinned by 169 targets, each of which is supported by between 1 and 3 indicators (244 indicators in total)

Resources to Evidence the Need and Potential Benefit