OECD: Western Development Aid Pledges Lagging
OECD: Western Development Aid Pledges Lagging

New figures show that Western countries are failing to meet aid targets for developing countries set in 2005. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Wednesday that as a result Africa, for example, has received less than half the extra aid it's been promised.

The new figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, show that development aid did grow in 2009 - continuing an ongoing trend.

Yasmin Ahmad is head of the organization's data collection unit.

"We've seen aid increase over the last six years in a way that it has never increased over a six-year period before so that's a very positive point," she said.

She says the majority of donors have met or even surpassed their aid objectives. But there are some, she says, that are lagging behind.

France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Greece, and Italy are set to miss their targets.

As a result the OECD estimates aid in 2010 will come to about $108 billion - leaving an $18 billion shortfall against the 2005 commitments. And this is down from a total of $119 billion in aid for developing countries last year.

Ahmad says the failure to meet the commitments cannot be blamed on the financial crisis.

"The real problem is in relation to the fact that there has just simply not been the political will to budget the appropriate amount of aid to meet the commitments that they've made," she said.

Ahmad says Africa will be hit hardest. At the 2005 Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Africa was promised a $25 billion increase in aid by 2010 - OECD says by the end of the year that figure will be closer to $12 billion.

"Africa is very dependent on aid from France and Germany and Italy and the mere fact that these countries have not lived up to their commitments means that Africa is bearing a lot of the brunt of the fall," said Ahmed.

Emma Seery, from the Britain-based charity Oxfam, says the affects can be seen on the ground.

"There is some indication that governments in poor countries are facing much tougher choices when it comes to their budgets. In the next two years you could really see a huge impact on their ability to finance essential services like health and education, and to over-all finance their poverty and development plans if aid commitments are not met," said Seery.

Aid is less than one percent of government spending on average in OECD countries. But there is great variation between countries.

According to the OECD, Sweden will provide just over 1% of its national income in aid this year. By contrast, the United States and Japan - the world's biggest economies - will each give less than 0.2 percent.