Donor Government Funding for Family Planning in 2021
This report provides data on donor government funding for family planning activities in low- and middle-income countries in 2021, 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.2 Both bilateral assistance and core contributions to UNFPA are included. For more detail, see methodology.
In 2021, donor governments provided US$1.39 billion in bilateral funding for family planning activities (see Figure 1, Table 1, & Appendix), essentially flat compared to the 2020 level (US$1.41 billion).
While the overall amount remained steady in 2021, there were significant variations among several donors (see Figure 2). Funding from five donor governments (Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden) rose in 2021. Sweden had the largest overall increase, rising by more than $50 million from US$129.3 million in 2020 to US$180.4 million in 2021, and funding from Australia and Germany both doubled in 2021 (Australia increased from US$23.9 million in 2020 to US$49.0 million in 2021; Germany increased from US32.9 million in 2020 to US$66.3 million in 2021). These increases offset a significant decline by the U.K., which decreased family planning funding by US$113 million (-42%) in 2021 (US$157.8 million) compared to 2020 (US$270.9 million). This decline was not unexpected due to the U.K. government’s decision to reduce overall official development assistance (ODA).3 Funding from the Netherlands also declined slightly, while Canada and the U.S. remained flat.4 These trends were the same after adjusting for inflation and exchange rate fluctuations.
More broadly, while bilateral funding from donor governments for family planning has fluctuated over the past decade, it has generally risen since the London Summit in 2012. Funding in 2021 was approximately US$200 million higher than in 2012 (US$1.19 billion), though this was below the peak level reached over the period (US$1.52 billion in 2019). In 2021, seven of the donors profiled provided higher funding than in 2012 (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden). Since funding from the U.S., the largest government donor to family planning, has been relatively flat, and funding from the U.K. fell in 2021 below the amount provided in 2012, this overall trend has largely been driven by other donors (see Figure 3).
The U.S. was the largest government donor to bilateral family planning efforts in 2021, accounting for 42% (US$576.7 million) of donor government funding (see Figure 4). In each previous year, the U.K. had been the world’s second largest donor, but due to the decline in 2021 it now ranks 4th (US$157.8 million or 11%) behind the Netherlands (US$190.5 million or 14%) and Sweden (US$180.4 million or 13%).
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.5
In 2021, the donor governments profiled provided US$405.3 million in core contributions to UNFPA, similar to the 2020 level (US$411.7 million). While most donors remained flat in 2021, funding from Germany and the U.K. both declined. German funding was still higher than earlier levels following a significant increase in 2020 that was aimed at supporting UNFPA’s efforts to address the impacts of COVID-19. The decrease by the U.K. was the result of an overall reduction in ODA as well as a plan to reduce support for some multilateral organizations.6 The U.S., under the Biden administration, resumed funding for UNFPA in 2021 after the Trump Administration had invoked the Kemp-Kasten amendment, a provision of U.S. law, to withhold funding—both core and non-core contributions—from UNFPA for the prior four years.7
The ranking of donor contributions to UNFPA differs from that of their bilateral family planning funding. Sweden provided the largest core contribution to UNFPA in 2021 (US$64.1 million), followed by Norway (US$54.3 million), Germany (US$47.8 million), and the Netherlands (US$40.5 million), (see Figure 5 and Table 2). Two donors – Denmark and Norway – provided larger contributions to UNFPA’s core resources than their total bilateral funding for family planning.
Donor government funding for family planning activities in 2021 did not seem to be affected by the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. How this plays out in the future, however, is uncertain and will depend on several broader factors. The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing as are the related economic challenges that many countries have faced, including pressures on donor capitals and downturns in low- and middle-income countries. In addition, the war in Ukraine has compounded these pressures as countries address an influx of refugees, as well as other emergency priorities such as global food insecurity and rising inflation. While family planning funding from the U.S. increased slightly in 2022, Congress has yet to finalize the 2023 level. Given that the U.S. is the largest donor to global family planning efforts, any changes would have an outsized impact on the overall amount and trends over time.
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 2022.8 Data represent the fiscal year 2021 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) – are from 2020 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 1 percent of bilateral family planning disbursements, were obtained from the OECD CRS and are from calendar year 2020.
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 2021 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.
For the U.S., funding represents final, Congressional appropriations (firm commitments that will be spent) to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), rather than disbursements, which can fluctuate from year-to-year due to the unique nature of the U.S. budget process (unlike most other donors, U.S. foreign assistance funding may be disbursed over a multi-year period). U.S. totals for 2017-2020 also include some funding originally appropriated by Congress for UNFPA that was transferred to the USAID family planning & reproductive health (FP/RH) account due to specific provisions in U.S. law including the Kemp-Kasten amendment (see KFF “UNFPA Funding & Kemp-Kasten: An Explainer”). Some prior reports presented disbursements. For this report, all prior-year amounts have been changed from disbursements to appropriations. This change in methodology does not alter the overall trend in total funding from donor governments over time.
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.