International aid or development assistance programs have been around for about 60 years. They grew out of the post-WWII reconstruction effort in Europe and developed over the course of the Cold War, in support of decolonization and then greater equality between the “First” and “Third” worlds.
For most of this period, the paradigm of international development has been understood as consisting of three elements: “Developed”, “developing”, and “least-developed” countries (LDCs), identified on the basis of GDP or other basic measures of per capita consumption that eventually became the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI).
The ultimate expression of this paradigm can be found in the creation of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) framework. In the broadest sense, the MDG framework is an internationally coordinated endeavour that involves the adoption and implementation of national poverty reduction programs with common goals by 100 developing countries, and the provision of political and financial support for this agenda by donor countries and other aid agencies.
Read more at Canadian International Council