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Aid Groups: G8 Needs to Keep Promises to Africa

When the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations meet at the G-8 summit in Italy next week, one topic on their agenda will be the fight against poverty in Africa. The G-8 nations have provided development assistance to African countries in recent years, but some aid groups are calling for the world's leaders to do more.

The annual G-8 summit brings together the leaders of the eight most powerful nations in the world. It is a chance for leaders to discuss solutions to global problems. Aid groups are hopeful the G-8 leaders this year will decide to increase development aid to Africa.

Meredith Alexander is with the anti-poverty group Action Aid in London. She says the G-8 has the opportunity to help struggling African nations.

"Action aid expects that roughly $50 billion will be lost for Africa this year as a result of the recession," said Alexander. "Then things like climate change, the growing crisis of hunger, older issues like AIDS and education. All of these things are problems for Africa, and it's great to see the G-8 taking these issues seriously."

Action Aid hopes African agriculture will be one area that will receive an increase of aid from the G-8. Alexander says helping small holder farmers in Africa could reduce hunger. But she says the G-8 has a history of making empty promises.

"We think the G-8 leaders should really be putting their money where their mouth is and that responsibility is first and foremost to the host, Italy," she said.

But a recent report released by the international aid organization One, says the upcoming summit host, Italy, is not pulling its weight.

The group says Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has "utterly failed" to maintain the assistance to Africa promised at a summit in 2005.

"You want a chair that will really hold people's feet to the fire and make sure promises are kept, and he's not in a credible position to do that at the moment," said Europe Director, Oliver Buston.

The group says it is hopeful other foreign leaders will put pressure on Italy to reverse its spending cuts and do more to develop African agriculture.

"It's a basic thing about keeping promises," said Buston. "We know when this aid money is used effectively it can achieve great results. These G-8 countries have made promises to the poorest people on the planet. They've got to keep them."

One says African countries have only received one third of the aid promised by the G-8 in 2005. But it and other advocacy groups hope leaders at this year's summit will be aware of the need to do more.