Cape Town — A global anti-poverty advocacy group attacked Italy and France on Thursday for failing to live up to their promises to help Africans improve their education and fight hunger and disease.
"France's delivery [of aid] is disappointing, and Italy's performance is an utter failure," the group, named ONE, said in its report. ONE has its origins in campaigns for debt relief and claims the backing of two million members.
In a report which examined the progress made by the G8 grouping of developed nations in meeting their 2005 commitment to double aid to Africa by 2010, the group said the G8 have delivered only a third of the extra help they promised - U.S. $7 billion of $21.5 billion.
"ONE's projections show that by the end of 2009 they will have delivered about half of their 2010 promise, with Italy and France responsible for 80 per cent of the shortfall. This leaves just one year, 2010, for the G8 to make up the rest...
"ONE projects that they will deliver an additional $3.46 billion in 2009, far short of the need," the group added.
Its report was released to follow Wednesday's Africa Progress Panel report which warned of the severe implications for Africa of the global economic crisis.
ONE sees its role as to monitor aid from developed countries. It looks to the Africa Progress Panel and other civil society groups to assess corresponding commitments - on issues such as good governance - made by African leaders.
ONE's report said some members of the G8 were meeting "and even beating" their aid targets for Africa. "Others, most notably Italy and France, have made exceptionally poor progress..."
Canada, Japan and the United States had set "modest" targets, which Canada and Japan had already surpassed and the U.S. would meet this year.
Germany and Britain had adopted more ambitious targets and although they were not meeting them, they were making "serious progress." Germany had made "significant increases" in aid for the past three years.
Britain was on track to become the first G8 country to achieve the United Nations' goal of spending 0.7 percent of national income in official direct assistance.
French aid had risen globally but that to Africa had dropped in 2008 - to below Germany's levels.
France's delivery was "disappointing," ONE said, and it was "dragging down the G7's collective performance." (The G7 countries exclude Russia, which did not join the other countries of the G8 in their 2005 aid commitment.)
The report said Italy had made an ambitious promise to sub-Saharan Africa in 2005 but had since cut development assistance and planned to do so again in 2009.
It would host this year's G8 summit - to be held in L'Aquila in central Italy - but "based on its performance... it has no credibility to host discussions of such global importance. Italy must urgently reverse its course if it is not to be embarrassed at the forthcoming... summit."
The ONE report said increases in development assistance had achieved "real measurable results... African citizens have used the... flows that have been delivered to provide Aids treatment to nearly three million people, to dramatically reduce deaths from malaria and to help put 34 million more children in school."
The developed countries still had a chance to get back on track, the report added, at meetings such as the G8 Summit. "The G8 can still make good progress against their 2010 promises if the political will is generated."