Early next month, G8 leaders will hold their annual summit in Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel is making Africa a priority. Many humanitarian groups and ngos see this as an opportunity to fulfill the promises to poor countries made two years ago at the Gleneagles Summit in Scotland.
Thursday, OXFAM has released a new report that says failing to keep those promises is costing lives in poor countries. Jo Leadbeater is head of policy for OXFAM. From London, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the track record of the G8 since 2005.
“It’s been a mixed bag. Some areas have seen some progress. So, debt relief that was committed to in 2005 has actually led to more money going into health services and education in countries like Malawi or Tanzania. But some of the worrying negative trends have been on aid, where we saw all of the G8 commit to providing $50 billion extra resources to invest in health and education round the world by 2010. And we calculated today that actually on the current trend those commitments are $30 billion off. So, we’re going to have a $30 billion shortfall by 2010,” she says.
Leadbeater says some G8 countries are doing better than others. “The worst offenders really would have to be Italy, Germany and France, who are currently way off track in terms on delivering some of the aid commitments that they made two years ago. The US is also off track, although aid has increased since 2004/5 by around four percent. We’re still estimating that the US is going to fail to provide around $2.4 billion of the aid money that it did commit to providing back in 2005,” she says.
She gives Britain and outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair high marks for his efforts to help Africa and battle poverty. Leadbeater says his expected successor, Chancellor Gordon Brown, gets similar good reviews.
Asked why German Chancellor Merkel would place an emphasis on Africa, she says, “I think there’s been a bit of a groundswell of popular pressure in Germany over the last 12 months…to really encourage the chancellor to prioritize Africa and development, and also the world’s other great challenge, which is around what the world does on climate change.”