WASHINGTON - In the grand narrative of development, the premise is simple — wealthier nations extend financial help to low- and middle-income counterparts. But, recent data from the ONE Campaign paint a rather different picture: Last year, nations of the global south shelled out tens of billions more in debt repayments than they received in fresh lending or official development aid. And as this year unfolds, the trend continues.

The figures, unveiled ahead of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings, dissect net financial flows to nations in the global south and draw on data from the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In 2022, a year marked by economic upheaval, net financial transfers to lower-income countries fell to their lowest since the global financial crisis. From a high of $225 billion in 2014, net inflows dwindled to $51 billion, writes Devex Business Editor David Ainsworth.

Further analysis based on World Bank projections found the numbers are expected to dip further. In 2023, instead of money flowing into global south nations, a net $21.4 billion is projected to have flowed out. And $50.5 billion more is expected to depart this year.

That’s because aid from wealthier donors has not grown with need and donor countries spend more assisting refugees domestically, keeping aid money within their own borders. COVID-19 and conflict-driven inflation has also pushed up interest rates, driving up borrowing costs for countries in the global south and weakening their exchange rate with the U.S. dollar.