G8: Cooking the books won’t feed anyone

Published: 18th May 2011

International agency Oxfam warned today that the G8 have failed to deliver on their aid promises and are using creative accounting to cover their tracks.

In their Deauville Accountability Report, the G8 has massaged the figures, claiming to have delivered almost US$49 billion of the promised $50 billion.  But according to the OECD, responsible for measuring the official aid figures, the G8 have delivered just $31 billion. Of the promised $25 billion promised to Africa, only $11 billion has really been delivered.

“Rather than deliver on their promises, the G8 have cooked the books and massaged their aid figures upwards to cover up their lack of action,” said Emma Seery, spokesperson for Oxfam. “This is not an accountability report, it is a cover up that is deeply embarrassing for the G8 and an insult to the world’s poorest people.”

The real short-fall in aid is $19 billion dollars. This is just 7 days of G8 military spending, and just 0.06% of their combined national income. The fact that this money has not been delivered has held back the very development goals the G8 have committed to reaching.

“Had the G8 met their aid promise, they could have got every child into school, paid the salaries of 800,000 midwives in Africa, and provided 1 million life-saving bed nets. These are the real costs of their inaction,” continued Seery.

Italy, Germany, France, and Japan have all failed to find the money they promised to help the poor. Italy is the worst offender – providing only 0.15% of its national income as aid, the lowest of all G8 countries and a far cry from the UN target of 0.7%. Italy spent only $2.3 billion on aid in 2010, almost half of what the Italian government spent cars and drivers for ministry and other government employees. Germany is significantly off track, and France, chair and host of the G8 and G20 this year, also has some way to go, despite increases in aid last year. The UK is almost on track to meet its 2010 promise, and is on track to reach its promise of 0.7% by 2013. Canada has very nearly met its commitment and the United States has met its,  but only because they both put so little money on the table in the first place.

Beyond global ODA figures, the accountability report this year also focuses on the agriculture and health sectors. But the lack of information on how investments in those sectors were made, prevents any exhaustive analysis in terms of both quantity and quality. At the height of a food price crisis two years ago, the G8 committed to invest $22 billion in aid for agriculture and food security with a particular focus on smallholder and sustainable agriculture and women, and supporting the implementation of country and regional led agricultural plans. Today, the accountability report discloses that about half the aid pledged at L'Aquila has been scheduled for disbursement. But little if no information exists regarding where this aid has been delivered, how much has been used to support national and regional led plans and how effective it has been in meeting the needs of smallholders.  

“Two years ago, we welcomed the G8’s commitment to increase their accountability and transparency, but by reducing this to a smoke and mirrors exercise they have fallen way short of the standard we expect from world leaders,” said Seery.

Read more

> Download the Oxfam media briefing: Cooking the Books Won’t Feed Anyone: The G8 Shamefully Try to Cover Their Tracks on Broken Promises (pdf, 100kb)

> Read the G8 France 2011: Deauville Accountability Report (pdf, 1.5MB)

Had the G8 met their aid promise, they could have got every child into school, paid the salaries of 800,000 midwives in Africa, and provided 1 million life-saving bed nets.

Notes to editors

The international confederation of Oxfam is a group of independent non-governmental organizations from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Quebec, Spain, the UK and the US.

Contact information

For further information:
Laura Rusu (US) +1 202 459 3739, LRusu@oxfamamerica.org
Magali Rubino (Framce), + 33 6 30 46 66 04, MRubino@oxfamfrance.org