Half of International Aid Reaching Resource-Poor Nations Spent on Health, Other Basic Services, Report Says
Only about half of the development aid that reaches resource-poor countries is spent on "basic services," such as health and education, according to a report released Monday by Oxfam and ActionAid, BBC News reports (BBC News, 2/28). The report -- titled "Millstone or Milestone? What rich countries must do in Paris to make aid work for poor people" -- says that 40% of aid from developed countries is "tied to overpriced goods and services from the donors' own countries" (Oxfam/ActionAid, Report text, 2/28). In addition, 80 official agencies handle aid distribution, which causes a large administrative burden for developing nations receiving the aid, according to BBC News (BBC News, 2/28). "Our report tells a sorry tale of muddle, hypocrisy, dithering and stalling," Patrick Watt, a policy officer for ActionAid, said (AP/Age, 2/28). According to the report, aid reforms are necessary to meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which aim to eradicate global poverty and improve education and health -- including slowing the spread of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria -- by 2015. The report calls on international development ministers meeting this week in Paris for the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development conference to discuss global aid and the goals. "If ministers in Paris fail to take the steps needed to make aid more effective, the U.N.'s anti-poverty targets may end up as museum pieces in the Louvre," Watt said. The report recommends that ministers agree to allow OECD to monitor aid (BBC News, 2/28). Max Lawson, an Oxfam policy adviser, said, "You hear a lot of talk about the need for 'good governance' and 'accountability' in developing countries -- it's time rich countries applied the same strict standards to themselves," adding, "There's now wide agreement that aid needs to be urgently increased, but we also need to know that every extra dollar is being spent effectively on fighting poverty" (Oxfam release, 2/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.