Donor Government Funding for Family Planning in 2019
This report provides data on donor government funding for family planning activities in low- and middle-income countries in 2019, the most recent year available, as well as trends over time. It is part of an effort by KFF that began after the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012 and includes data from all 30 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), as well as non-DAC members where data are available.1 Data are collected directly from donors and supplemented with data from the DAC. Direct data collection was carried out for ten donor governments that account for 98% of total funding for family planning. Both bilateral assistance and core contributions to UNFPA are included. For more detail, see the below methodology.
In 2019, donor governments provided US$1.5 billion in bilateral funding for family planning activities (see Figure 1, Table 1 & Appendix 2), on par with the 2018 level (US$1.5 billion), which was the highest level of funding since the London Summit in 2012.2 However, after adjusting for inflation and exchange rate fluctuations, funding in 2019 declined slightly compared to 2018.
Among the ten donors for which direct data collection was conducted, half increased funding in 2019 (Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and the U.K.) and half decreased (Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S.). These trends were the same after adjusting for inflation and exchange rate fluctuations, except for the Netherlands, which was flat in currency of origin. It is important to note that the U.S. decline was largely due to timing and does not reflect an actual decrease in U.S. appropriations, which are firm commitments that may be spent over a multi-year period. In fact, U.S. appropriations for family planning have remained steady in recent years (see Figure 2).3
Despite a decline in 2019, the U.S. remained the largest donor to family planning, accounting for 39% of donor government funding (see Figure 3).4 The U.K. (25%) was the second largest donor followed by the Netherlands (13%), Sweden (7%), and Canada (6%).
Donor government funding for family planning has generally risen since the London Summit in 2012, although totals have fluctuated over the period. Funding in 2019 (US$1.5 billion) was more than US$400 million above the 2012 level (US$1.1 billion) and includes increases from seven of the ten donors: Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S. If the U.S. is excluded, funding from all other donors rose from US$608.6 million to US$927.8 million, a more than US$300 million (52%) increase (see Figure 4).
Donor Contributions to UNFPA
While the majority of donor government assistance for family planning is provided bilaterally, donors also provide support for family planning activities through contributions to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Most of UNFPA’s funding is from donor governments, which provide funding in two ways: 1) donor directed or earmarked contributions for specific activities (e.g. donor contributions to the UNFPA Supplies), which are included as part of bilateral funding above; and 2) general contributions to “core” activities that are untied and meant to be used for both programmatic activities (e.g. family planning, population and development, HIV/AIDS, gender, and sexual and reproductive health and rights) and operational support as determined by UNFPA.
In 2019, the donor governments profiled provided US$367.6 million in core contributions to UNFPA, essentially flat compared to the 2018 level (US$374.1 million), even without U.S. support.5,6 Three donors increased funding (Denmark, France, and Germany), five remained flat (Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, and the U.K.), and one declined (Sweden). For the third year in a row, the Trump administration withheld funding from UNFPA.7
Norway provided the largest core contribution to UNFPA in 2019 (US$62.0 million), followed by Sweden (US$61.7 million), Denmark (US$45.3 million), Germany (US$37.0), and the Netherlands (US$36.7 million) (see Figure 5 and Table 2). Two donors – Demark and Norway – provided larger contributions to UNFPA’s core resources than their total bilateral funding for family planning.
While donor government funding for family planning has generally increased since the London Summit, and more recently held steady, future levels could depend on the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic, including how significantly the pandemic affects donor budgets as well as needs on the ground. At the same time, the Biden Administration has expressed support for global family planning efforts and may seek additional funding for these efforts, though any funding request would need to be approved by Congress. Given that the U.S. is the largest donor to global family planning efforts, any changes would have an outsized impact.
Bilateral and multilateral data on donor government assistance for family planning (FP) in low- and middle-income countries were collected from multiple sources. The research team collected the latest bilateral assistance data directly for 10 governments: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States during 2020. Data represent the fiscal year 2019 period. Direct data collection from these donors was desirable because they represent the preponderance of donor government assistance for family planning and the latest official statistics – from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Creditor Reporting System (CRS) (see: http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/data) – which are from 2018 and do not include all forms of international assistance (e.g., funding to countries such as Russia and the Baltic States that are no longer included in the CRS database). In addition, the CRS data may not include certain funding streams provided by donors, such as FP components of mixed-purpose grants to non-governmental organizations. Data for all other OECD DAC member governments – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, the European Union, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland – which collectively accounted for approximately 2 percent of bilateral family planning disbursements, were obtained from the OECD CRS and are from calendar year 2018.
For purposes of this analysis, funding was counted as family planning if it met the OECD CRS purpose code definition: “Family planning services including counselling; information, education and communication (IEC) activities; delivery of contraceptives; capacity building and training.” Where it was possible to identify funding amounts, family-planning-related activities funded in the context of other official development assistance sectors (e.g. education, civil society) are included in this analysis. Project-level data were reviewed for Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden to determine whether all or a portion of the funding could be counted as family planning. Family-planning-specific funding totals for the United States were confirmed through communication with government representatives. Funding attributed to Australia and the United Kingdom is based on a revised Muskoka methodology as agreed upon by donors at the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012. Funding totals presented in this analysis should be considered preliminary estimates based on data provided by representatives of the donor governments who were contacted directly.
It was difficult in some cases to disaggregate bilateral family planning funding from broader population, reproductive and maternal health totals, as the two are sometimes represented as integrated totals. In addition, family-planning-related activities funded in the context of other official development assistance sectors (e.g. education, civil society) have in the past remained largely unidentified. For purposes of this analysis, we worked closely with the largest donors to family planning to identify such family-planning-specific funding where possible. In some cases (e.g. Canada), specific FP percentages were recorded for mixed-purpose projects. In other cases, it was possible to identify FP-specific activities by project titles in languages of origin, notwithstanding less-specific financial coding. In still other cases, detailed project descriptions were analyzed (see Appendix for detailed data table).
Bilateral funding is defined as any earmarked (FP-designated) amount and includes family planning-specific contributions to multilateral organizations (e.g. non-core contributions to UNFPA Supplies). UNFPA contributions from all governments correspond to amounts received during the 2019 calendar year, regardless of which contributor’s fiscal year such disbursements pertain to.
With some exceptions, bilateral assistance data were collected for disbursements. A disbursement is the actual release of funds to, or the purchase of goods or services for, a recipient. Disbursements in any given year may include disbursements of funds committed in prior years and in some cases, not all funds committed during a government fiscal year are disbursed in that year. In addition, a disbursement by a government does not necessarily mean that the funds were provided to a country or other intended end-user. Enacted amounts represent budgetary decisions that funding will be provided, regardless of the time at which actual outlays, or disbursements, occur. In recent years, most governments have converted to cash accounting frameworks, and present budgets for legislative approval accordingly; in such cases, disbursements were used as a proxy for enacted amounts.
U.S. totals represent disbursements during the fiscal year (October 1 – September 30) for the period between 2012-2018. In FY 2019, a comparable figure for funding disbursed was not available due to adjustments made in USAID’s accounting system. Instead, the FY 2019 total is based on Congressionally appropriated amounts, which include US$575.0 million in funding for family planning as well as US$17.5 million transferred to family planning from the Congressional appropriation to UNFPA.7
UNFPA core contributions were obtained from United Nations Executive Board documents. UNFPA estimates of total family planning funding provided from both core and non-core resources were obtained through direct communications with UNFPA representatives. Other than core contributions provided by governments to UNFPA, un-earmarked core contributions to United Nations entities, most of which are membership contributions set by treaty or other formal agreement (e.g., United Nations country membership assessments), are not identified as part of a donor government’s FP assistance even if the multilateral organization in turn directs some of these funds to FP. Rather, these would be considered as FP funding provided by the multilateral organization, and are not considered for purposes of this report.
The fiscal year period varies by country. The U.S. fiscal year runs from October 1-September 30. The Australian fiscal year runs from July 1-June 30. The fiscal years for Canada and the U.K. are April 1-March 31. Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden use the calendar year. The OECD uses the calendar year, so data collected from the CRS for other donor governments reflect January 1-December 31. Most UN agencies use the calendar year and their budgets are biennial.
All data are expressed in US dollars (USD). Where data were provided by governments in their currencies, they were adjusted by average daily exchange rates to obtain a USD equivalent, based on foreign exchange rate historical data available from the U.S. Federal Reserve (see: http://www.federalreserve.gov/) or in some cases from the OECD. Data obtained from UNFPA were already adjusted by UNFPA to represent a USD equivalent based on date of receipts.