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Irish Aid Annual Report highlights €150m spent on the global response to COVID-19

Ireland contributed over €150m to the global response to COVID-19 in 2020, the newly published Irish Aid Annual Report has shown.

Ireland's total overseas development aid spend for 2020 was €867m. Included in this was an investment of over €150m to the global response to COVID-19. This spend supported partners to mitigate both the health and the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.

Commenting on the launch of the 2020 Irish Aid Annual Report, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney T.D. said:

“Throughout the global upheaval caused by COVID-19, Ireland has stepped-up to protect the most vulnerable. Ireland was one of the first countries to support the World Health Organisation’s appeal to help low income countries cope with the pandemic. We quadrupled our contribution to the World Health Organisation, as well as increasing our support to other bodies supporting people in poorer countries.

“We also supported Ministries of Health in our partner countries. Ireland’s support obtained PPE, put in infection control measures, and established ICU facilities.

“Throughout the pandemic, our vital development and humanitarian work has continued. Irish Aid funding has improved food production, increased incomes and supported education. When disaster strikes, Irish Aid is there to help people affected. Irish Aid is an expression of Irish people’s values. Its work continues to change lives around the world.”

Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy T.D., said:

“Ireland believes in bringing its values of fairness and friendship to the world. Rarely was that more important than in 2020, a year when we all – as a global community – faced the same crisis.

“COVID-19 is a health crisis, but it is also a development crisis. Irish Aid responded quickly to support health systems in our partner countries. We also stepped-up our support to help people cope with the wider impacts: supporting incomes, facilitating out-of-school learning, protecting women from violence. 

“Ireland’s aid programme saves and changes lives. Irish Aid’s vision is for a world where people are empowered to overcome poverty and fully realise their rights and potential. I am enormously proud that Ireland continues to invest in the programmes and systems to make this vision a reality.”

Examples of Irish Aid support to assist communities during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • In Mozambique, approximately €1.5m of Ireland’s support to the health sector was reallocated to buy essential PPE for frontline workers.
  • In Sierra Leone, €750,000 was provided to the World Food Programme for food assistance in COVID-19 treatment centres and food distribution to vulnerable households.
  • In Malawi, €480,000 was provided to the Minister of Gender for COVID-19 emergency cash transfers.
  • In Uganda, €1.8m was provided to WHO to support the health system and procure testing kits.

Throughout the pandemic, Irish Aid’s existing development and humanitarian work has continued. For example, €192m was spent on humanitarian assistance globally in 2020 for crises not related to COVID-19.

A Better World, Ireland’s policy for international development, identifies four core areas for Irish Aid support: gender equality; humanitarian need; climate action; strengthening governance and rights.

The 2020 Annual Report can be accessed at irishaid.ie.


Press Office

8 December 2021


Notes for Editors:

  • Irish Aid is an all-of-Government programme. In 2020, the Government invested over €867 million on Ireland’s overseas aid programme. The bulk of this funding - €545 million – was managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The remaining €322 million was allocated through other government departments, mainly the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Finance, and through Ireland’s contribution to the EU Development Co-operation Budget.
  • Of the total spend in 2020, 53% (€458m) was allocated to bilateral partners, with 47% (€409m) to multilateral partners.
  • The top ten countries to receive Irish Aid support in 2020 were: Ethiopia (€39.6m), Mozambique (€25.7m), Tanzania (€22.9m), Uganda (€22.7m), Malawi (€20.8), Sierra Leone (€14.6), Zimbabwe (€8.7), Palestine (€8.6), South Sudan (€8.6M).

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