Most G8 Countries Falling Behind in Aid to Africa, DATA Report Finds
Most countries in the Group of Eight industrialized nations have fallen behind the promise made at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to double aid to Africa by 2010, according to a report released on Tuesday by the advocacy group DATA, the New York Times reports (Dugger, New York Times, 5/15). G8 leaders in July 2005 at the close of their summit in Gleneagles agreed to an immediate doubling of aid to Africa to $50 billion annually in order to fight poverty and disease on the continent. The final summit communique officially endorsed a debt relief plan, which canceled at least $40 billion in debt owed by the world's 18 poorest nations. The communique also included an agreement on providing universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, according to British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/26).
The report found that seven G8 countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. -- have increased aid to Africa by less than half of the amount needed to reach the goal set at Gleneagles, the Times reports. The report also found that Japan and Britain have increased aid by 62% and 40%, respectively, since 2004, enough to be on track to meet the goal. France, Germany and Italy have a "particular crisis of credibility," DATA said. The report noted that when adjusted for debt relief and inflation, France had decreased aid to the continent by 1% since 2004, Germany's aid had increased 2% and Italy's had decreased by 30%. Canada's aid to Africa has increased by 25% since 2004, a rate that would not double aid by 2010, according to the report. Aid from the U.S. decreased in 2006 but has increased in the first part of 2007 with Congress' adoption of a 2007 budget that allocates an additional $1 billion than what was requested by President Bush in aid to Africa. The additional funds will be used primarily to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria on the continent (New York Times, 5/15).
The report found that total aid to Africa increased by $2.3 billion since 2004, but the Gleneagles promise should have increased aid by $5.4 billion, according to Reuters. In addition, the report praised the agreement to cancel debts of low-income countries and to increase funding for health and education services.
DATA co-founder and Irish musician Bono said that G8 countries should not be permitted to forget the commitment made at Gleneagles. He added that economic growth of more than 5% in some African countries is not an excuse to reduce aid to the continent. In addition, efforts by the U.S. to fight the spread of HIV and malaria are "impressive," Bono said. The G8 overall has increased funding for the provision of antiretroviral drugs, and there also has been progress in fighting malaria and polio, according to Reuters (Wroughton, Reuters, 5/15). Richard Manning, chair of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said he is surprised that aid to Africa had not increased at a faster rate. "I would have thought, in the general scheme of things, donors would be putting more aid on the table," Manning said (New York Times, 5/15).
German Chancellor Merkel Pledges To Make Africa Focus of G8 Summit in June
In related news, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday pledged to make aid to Africa a strong focus of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, which is scheduled to take place from June 6 to June 8, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports. "The issue of Africa will be a particular focus," Merkel said, adding, "We know that we can really help [Africa] with our resources, ... and we want to show to this continent our understanding of freedom, justice and solidarity is not limited to us but goes for the whole world." According to Merkel, key discussion points will be the fight against HIV/AIDS, forgiving debt and increasing aid to the continent. Merkel added that another focus will be to speak with African leaders "about how the institutions and conditions in those countries can be improved so that help truly reaches people on the ground" (AP/International Herald Tribune, 5/12).
The DATA report is available online.
PBS' "Frontline/World" features an audio slide show, titled "POSITHIV: AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa." The slide show, by Spanish photographer Pep Bonet, documents Medecins Sans Frontieres' antiretroviral program in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, Angola and Kenya (Bonet, "POSITHIV: AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa," "Frontline/World," PBS, May 2007). The slide show, an interview with Bonet and additional information about the project are available online.