The Norwegian government is proposing a record-high development assistance budget of NOK44.9 billion (US$4.5 billion). On May 12, 2022, the government published the revised state budget, indicating the intent to increase the development assistance budget by NOK3.6 billion (US$366 million), to NOK44.9 billion (US$4.5 billion) total, corresponding to a 1.09% ODA/GNI ratio for 2022.
The government will increase funding to Ukraine and its neighboring countries by NOK1.75 billion (US$178 million), meaning that Norway will contribute at least NOK2 billion (US$203 million) in response to the Russian invasion. In addition, the government allocated 50% of the increase - NOK 1.8 billion (US$183 million) - to in-country refugee costs in Norway, which has been met with heavy criticism.
The government also proposed the reprioritization of NOK4 billion (US$407 million) within the development assistance budget to finance increased refugee expenditure in Norway. This move aligns with OECD regulations, but advocates are increasingly concerned. The funding will draw from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate and Environment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to cut NOK3.6 billion (US$366 million) and the Ministry of Climate and Environment, NOK300 million (US$30 million).
According to the revised budget, the follwing thematic areas and organizations will be affected by the reprioritization:
- Afghanistan: NOK60 million (US$6 million);
- Gender equality: NOK65 million (US$7 million);
- UN Organization for Rights and Equality (UN Women): NOK75 million (US$8 million);
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): NOK99 million (US$10 million);
- World Health Organization: NOK118 million (US$12 million);
- Human rights: NOK136 million (US$13 million);
- Stabilization of countries in crisis and war: NOK140 million (US$14 million);
- Civil society: NOK208 million (US$21 million);
- Africa, regional allocation: NOK250 million (US$25 million);
- The Knowledge Bank: NOK250 million (US$25 million);
- United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef): NOK358 million (US$36 million);
- United Nations Development Program (UNDP): NOK440 million (US$44 million);
- Health: NOK470 million (US$47 million); and
- Education: NOK553 million (US$56 million).
The only increased allocation in the development assistance as part of the reprioritization is funding towards food security, fish, and agriculture. The funding will be increased by NOK200 million (US$20 million) as a response to the impending global food crisis, which will be exacerbated by the Russian invasion.
Several Norwegian CSOs and international development advocates decried the revised budget. Henriette K. Westhrin, Secretary-General of Norwegian People's Aid indicated that it is incomprehensible that the government would consider cutting funding to the world`s poorest, especially since Norway is profiting immensly from the invasion. Secretary-General of Norwegian Church Aid, Dagfinn Høybråten, said that the cut could have major consequences for vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries and could have a major domino effect on other donor countries' ODA. Secretary-General of Save the Children Birgitte Lange was similarly unimpressed with the development assistance budget cuts, highlighting that in the revised budget, for each seven dollars in development assistance, one will go to Norway rather than partner countries.