Rich countries are US$18 billion short on aid promises

New overseas aid figures show donor countries have short-changed poor people by US$18 billion worth of life-saving aid, at a time when an additional 64 million people have been pushed into poverty by the global financial crisis.

April 6, 2011

The figures, from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), demonstrate the G8’s failure to fulfill its 2005 promise to provide an additional US$50 billion in aid by 2010. Half of the increase, US$25 billion, was promised to Africa, but only US$11 billion has been delivered.

“Empty promises mean empty larders,” said Oxfam Policy Coordinator Mark Fried. “The G8’s words without deeds deprive people of clean water, of life saving medicines, of food.”

Canada’s 2002 promise to double aid by 2010 fell short by $400 million, despite an increase in 2010. Finance minister Jim Flaherty has imposed a freeze on aid spending until 2015 as a deficit-reduction measure. The freeze on aid spending means that in constant 2010 dollars the value of aid in 2014 will be only 40 per cent more than in 2001.

“We should not try to solve our fiscal problems on the backs of the world’s poorest people,” Fried said. “Could we not make do with 64 instead of 65 fighter jets so that we don’t leave the poorest to fend for themselves?”

Despite the fact aid figures have risen slightly compared to last year, total aid spend has increased from $119.7 to $128.7 billion, the repercussions of the current economic crisis won’t be felt until next year. For seven countries aid, as a percentage of their income levels, has actually gone down.

Oxfam estimates the missing US$18 billion could have:
• Paid for every child in the world to go to school. Currently 72 million children in poor countries are missing out on a primary education.
• Paid the salaries of nearly 800,000 midwives in sub-Saharan Africa, where maternal mortality rates are the highest in the world.
• Provided 1 million people with mosquito nets to protect them from malaria. Nearly this many people die every year from the deadly disease.

“When the G8 meets in May, the leaders of the governments that have failed to meet their promises will have to agree on getting their aid commitments back on track,” Fried said.

For more information, please contact:
Karen Palmer
Media Officer
Oxfam Canada