G8 broken promises could cost five million lives warns Oxfam

Published: 11 May 2007

Aid set to reach only 40 per cent of target

A new report launched today by the international agency, Oxfam shows that on current trends the G8 countries could miss their promise to increase aid by 2010 by a massive $30 billion at a cost of at least five million - mainly children’s - lives.

The report, "The World is Still Waiting," published a month before the G8 meet in Germany, is the first to calculate how far the world’s richest countries could miss the target of giving $50bn annually they set themselves at Gleneagles in 2005. Italy is predicted to be $8.1bn short on its promises, France $7.6bn short and Germany $7bn.

“This is a deplorable failure for which millions of women, children and men could pay with their lives. These promises are not inconsequential numbers on a balance sheet but about life and death for real people – the 50,000 people who die every day from preventable diseases and the 80 million children that will not see the inside of a classroom,” said Max Lawson, Oxfam policy advisor.

“The G8 must prove its promises were more than empty rhetoric and say when and how they will increase aid. There can be no excuses – the cost of inaction is too high,” added Lawson.

Despite the promises made in 2005, figures released by the OECD in April show that aid actually fell in 2006, the first time since 1997. In particular, aid from Italy, the US, Japan and Canada fell sharply. At $103bn, aid remains at just ten per cent of global military spending, and 25 per cent of what the US government has spent on the war in Iraq. It is equivalent of $1.70 for each rich country citizen per week.

“This is particularly embarrassing for Germany as the chair of this year’s summit. Chancellor Merkel must lead by example and get the G8 back on track to deliver the aid they promised.  The 40 million people in 36 countries who campaigned in 2005 to end poverty will be watching and demanding action,” said Lawson.

The report shows that aid works. It has helped the Tanzanian government make primary school free, with the result that 3.5 million more children are now in school. Increased aid has also helped reduce the number of Tanzanian children dying in their first year of life by almost a third.


[1] Canada is the only country on track to meet its promise. However, this is because their promised increase was very low compared to the rest of the G8 and in particular the EU members of the G8. In 2006, Canada only undertook to meet the OECD average per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2010 . The Canadian government has steadfastly refused to set a timetable to reach 0.7% of GNI despite huge public pressure.  These figures are all taken from OECD estimates and are in constant 2004 US dollars. See http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/52/18/37790990.pdf for more detail.

Notes to Editors

1. Using the latest figures from the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, Oxfam has calculated that the $30bn shortfall could provide vital healthcare for children, mothers and those suffering from HIV and AIDS, saving five million lives in 2010 alone and reversing the spread of HIV and AIDS.

2. In the last two years 21 million children under five have died from preventable diseases. This is the equivalent of every child under five in Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Italy and the UK combined. In the same period one million women have died in pregnancy or child-birth for the want of simple medical care. This is the equivalent of every woman who gave birth in Germany and Canada last year.

For aid predictions in 2010 compared with promise see "The World is Still Waiting."

Contact Information

For press enquiries or copies of the report contact Tricia O’Rourke on +44 7989 965359 or tricia.orourke@oxfaminternational.org