Rich countries’ aid figures drop for second straight year

“This failure to deliver on aid promises means millions of children denied a place in school, and mothers and children condemned to die”
Max Lawson
Published: 3 April 2008

Emergency plans needed to get back on track. For a second year in a row, rich countries have not delivered on their historical commitment made in 2005 to substantially increase their aid to fight extreme poverty. Oxfam says that aid figures, to be released (today Friday) in Tokyo, show that the total overseas aid provided in 2007 was $104 billion, in real terms an 8.4% drop.

The announcement of the new aid figures was made by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD in Japan, where this year’s G8 Summit is set to take place in July.

Headline figures are once again obscured by debt relief for Iraq and Nigeria, although less so than previous years, Oxfam said. Discounting debt relief, overall aid was 94.9 billion, a slight increase of 2.4% on last year, but not nearly enough to be on track to meet promised increases.

“These figures don’t lie. They show a clear lack of leadership on bringing much needed funding to poor countries. This failure to deliver on aid promises means millions of children denied a place in school, and mothers and children condemned to die,” said Max Lawson, Oxfam Policy Advisor. "We must see emergency plans announced to rapidly increase aid when European Union leaders meet in June and at the G8 this summer."

“The leaders of rich countries such as France, the United Kingdom and Japan must tell us why they are turning their backs on the poorest. It is disappointing that France which will take the presidency of the EU in June is amongst the worst offenders, with a minimal increase at best. President Sarkozy and other leaders must immediately announce that they will rapidly raise aid budgets and salvage their crumbling credibility in the eyes of the world.”

Rich countries promised to increase aid by $50 billion annually by 2010. They also committed to significantly improve the way it is given, meaning more genuine resources to spend on fighting poverty. They have done very little to meet these promises since then.

Oxfam calculates that on recent trends, rich countries will be missing this $50 billion target by as much as $30 billion – a figure that could save five million lives. Without this vital aid, there is no chance of meeting the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, such as cutting maternal and child death and ensuring every child gets to go to school.

“Aid is less than one tenth of global military spending. Yet this aid could save literally millions of lives. There can be no excuse for not meeting their commitments,” Lawson said.

Oxfam’s experience is that when quality long-term aid is given it is making a huge difference. The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria has now distributed $8.6 billion in grants to 136 countries. It has enabled 1.1 million people get treatment for HIV/AIDS, and has distributed 30 million insect treated bed nets to protect people against malarial mosquitoes – these can save the lives of 200,000 children.

Poor country governments across the world have significantly scaled up spending on education, health and other actions to fight poverty. It is this success that makes the failure to deliver greater aid levels all the more unacceptable.

In 1970, rich countries promised to give 0.7% of their income as aid. Only Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden and Norway have met this promise.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Louis Belanger, Oxfam Media Officer
tel: +1 202 496 1173; mob: +1 202 321 2967