G8 falling further behind on poverty commitments says DATA Report

By staff writers
June 18, 2008
Bono at G8

Targeted aid is getting good results in Africa, but the G8 are falling further behind on meeting their commitments, a new report from the organisation set up by U2 frontman Bono, has said.

Drawing the ire of Bob Geldoff, who branded the G8 "a contemptuous joke" the DATA Report 2008, released in Paris by ONE the global anti-poverty organization, shows the G8 are falling further behind on the commitment they made in 2005 to contribute an additional $22 billion in assistance to Africa by 2010.

According to the report whose foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu the G8 are halfway to the 2010 deadline, but so far have only delivered $3 billion, or 14 percent, of the $22 billion commitment. If the G8 continue at their current pace, they will collectively fall far short of where they pledged to be by 2010.

While the pace of delivery is deeply concerning, say campaigners, the good news is that the assistance that has been delivered is making a real, measurable difference on the ground in lives saved and futures brightened.

Because of recent increases in development assistance 2.1 million Africans are on life-saving AIDS medication, up from only 50,000 in 2002, and 26 million children were immunized and against a group of life-threatening diseases between 2001 and 2006. 29 million African children were also able to enter school for the first time as a direct result of debt relief and increased assistance between 1999 and 2005, and by 2007, 59 million bed nets had been distributed by the Global Fund alone, helping to dramatically reduce malaria rates in countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

These statistics make clear that targeted development assistance, implemented in partnership with effective African leadership, works, says One, and that "there are no more excuses for not delivering quickly on what the G8 promised".

The DATA Report lays out a suggested roadmap for how the G8 can get on track to meet their 2010 goals by scaling up measures that have been proven to work.

The DATA Report 2008 was released at a press conference in Paris today (Wednesday) led by Bono, Bob Geldof, Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, as well as singer and activist Angelique Kidjo Arunma Oteh, Vice President, Corporate Services of the African Development Bank and French tennis star Yannick Noah.

Launching the 2008 DATA Report, Bono said: "There's good news and bad news ... the good news is that the aid money that has been delivered is making a real and measurable difference in lives saved and kids in school. In the last few years, more than 2 million Africans have been given access to life-saving AIDS drugs, 26 million children have been immunized and 29 million kids in Africa are going to school for the first time. But as I've been saying, the good news makes the bad news worse ... the G8’s failure to follow through on its commitments has left millions of lives in the balance and a distrust in the electorate, leading many to believe that G8 meetings are more about photo ops than a real commitment to Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité."

Bob Geldof, advocate and DATA principal said: "14 per cent! What a contemptuous joke the G8 have become. The poor of Africa were given a signed guarantee by the leaders of the world's largest economies. This contract has two more years to run and it is now clear that most of these countries have no intention of fulfilling their pledge.

"Besides furthering the misery of the poor, hungry and ill, this is also a strategic blunder of massive import to us in Europe. While China appears to fully understand and invest in the massive wealth of Africa and consequently retain a growing influence on a continent 8 miles from ours, we dither, lie and resile from undertakings only worth a pittance in the first place. The cost of our aid was small; the consequence of our failure will be great indeed."

In the foreword to the 2008 DATA Report, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M Tutu, now also serving as International Patron to DATA and ONE, wrote: “We want to achieve success not through a hand out, but through hard work, persistence, creativity and a true partnership with the developed world. We’re not there yet, but we have the roadmap to get there if the West keeps the commitments it made, with such fanfare, at Gleneagles and if African leaders keep their promises to their citizens too.”

According to the 2008 DATA Report, while the G8 as a whole are off track, some countries are doing better than others and some have made more substantial promises than others.

The European members of the G8 -- France, Germany, Italy and the UK – made the biggest promises to Africa as a percentage of their national wealth and together are responsible for 75 percent of the $22 billion committed. While the scope of their commitments should be applauded, they are off track to meet them, say campaigners.

Writing in his foreword, Archbishop Tutu spoke directly to the importance of Europe keeping the commitments it has made: “Intentions are one thing, follow through is another and I am deeply worried that France, Germany and Italy are not going to keep the promises they made to Africa in 2005, because then all of Europe will be behind. President Sarkozy, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Berlusconi need to hear more from their citizens on this subject if they are to make the right decisions, both for Europe and Africa,” he wrote.

In a new estimation by DATA of G8 budget projections, the G8 is expected to increase assistance to Africa in 2008 by $2.6 billion. This is an important improvement over previous years, say campaigners, but still far from what is needed. The G8 would need to increase assistance to Africa by $6.4 billion in 2008 in order to be on track to meet their 2010 commitment.

The DATA Report makes clear that it is still possible for the G8 to keep its historic commitment to Africa. But whether or not it is kept is up to the leaders of the G8 and the citizens in whose name the promises were made, say campaigners.

Citizen activism led the G8 to make the 2005 commitments to Africa in the wake of Live 8 and a global campaign aimed at 'making poverty history'. Given the G8’s slow pace in delivering on that promise, campaigners say it’s clear that citizen pressure will once again have to be applied to ensure that promise is kept.

To help mobilize citizens to encourage their governments to keep their promises to Africa, DATA and ONE are launching an email petition to G8 leaders. To learn more and sign the petition, go to http://www.one.org

The 2008 DATA Report is available here: http://www.one.org/report

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