First published for Oxfam at http://tinyurl.com/39qnh6a
Promises are like babies: easy to make, hard to deliver
The UK, under Blair and Brown came out of the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles with renewed hope of all G8 nations (minus Russia) finally delivering a generation-old promise of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid.
But it appears that some of the wealthiest nations in the world had no intention of keeping it, and others will not be able to.
David Cameron, the new boy at the helm, has not managed what many believe Gordon Brown would have- to hold these failing G8 nations accountable.
France and Germany have managed only a quarter of their pledges, and Italy has actually reduced the amount of aid it gives by sixty per cent.
Max Lawson of Oxfam said: “This year the headline is maternal health, last year it was food; every year we get a new G8 initiative.
”But with overall aid flatlining, they are just moving money around.”
While it is easy to look on it as a disaster, a huge blow for those who campaigned on the streets in 2005 to ‘Make Poverty History’, the G8 is merely an informal grouping, labelled “increasingly ineffective” by the Guardian.
Does this prove that this is not the place to hold governments to account, and that the UK, with its diminishing status on the world stage, is not the country to do it?
Still, the last five years have not been without success.
ONE, the organisation set-up by Bono to monitor progress on the promises made at Gleneagles said in its annual report that with 93 per cent, the UK has almost met its target.
Canada and Japan will both exceed their admitedly modest pledges, and the US will boost aid by more than 150 per cent.
Thanks to international financial support to its health budget, Mozambique has seen the number of mothers dying in childbirth falling by more than 50 per cent since 1995.
In Ghana, because of financial aid for development put to good use, the government abolished all primary school fees in 2003. Over two academic years, 1.2 million more children were able to go to school.
More aid than ever, if not enough, is going to Africa; by pushing for “smarter aid” and promoting “good governance” results are coming through; there are more and more examples of African civil society groups reclaiming the right for African people to prosper.
For example Fair Play for Africa is a pan-african coalition of over 200 organisations from 10 African countries campaigning to make sure that health for all becomes a reality for all Africans. African civil society is growing at least as much African economies are.
David Cameron was quick to say he would narrow the remit of the G8 when the UK hosts it again in 2013. Could this be a shrewd indication that the G20, with its increased membership is better placed for the 21st century?
I think so. Instead of assuming defeat, the new focus on the G20, and the UN’s 2015 goals, will ensure this progress has not been in vain.If we look at the future, with developing nations powering ahead despite the recession, the OECD predicts that “by 2030 developing countries will account for nearly 60 per cent of world GDP”.
Ban Ki-moon, speaking ahead of the September UN Summit to discuss the 2015 Millennium Development Goals is incredibly positive that the world is still on target to cut in half incidence of extreme poverty.
But, he also admitted, “that improvements in the lives of the poor have been unacceptably slow, and some hard-won gains are being eroded by the climate, food and economic crises”.
While the G8 appears to have been read its rites, poverty isn’t history.Today there is a food crisis in West Africa threatening the lives of more than 7 million people, the same as the population of the North West of England.
In this area, Niger, the world’s poorest country has a GDP of £3.6 billion. The North West in the UK alone has a GDP of £120 billion.
Aid is still greatly needed, and much has been promised. Its ultimate goal, as Mo Ibraheim, a Sudanese-born British telecoms mogul, told ONE, is probably to “eliminate the future need for aid”.