Leaders of the world’s eight biggest industrialized nations have promised to boost development assistance to Africa by U.S. $25 billion a year over 2004 levels by 2010.
The G8 leaders, meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, for their annual summit, pledged that “despite the severe impact of the [global financial] crisis on our economies, we reiterate the importance of fulfilling our commitments to increase aid made at [their summit in] Gleneagles [Scotland in 2005].”
They promised to make the $25 billion increase “together with other donors,” adding that the development assistance committee of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development has estimated that “the combined commitments of G8 and other donors would increase overall ODA [official development assistance] by around $50 billion a year by 2010 compared to 2004.”
Last month, the global anti-poverty advocacy group, ONE, said that the G8 countries had delivered only a third of the extra help they promised – $7 billion of $21.5 billion. ONE attacked France and Italy – which is hosting the G8 summit – particularly strongly, saying France’s delivery of aid was “disappointing” and Italy's was “an utter failure."
The G8 summit’s promise was included it a declaration issued on Wednesday.
Responding, ONE’s Europe director Oliver Buston welcomed an announcement that the G8 would introduce a mechanism for making itself more accountable for meeting its pledges.
“But what the world's poorest people need now is not a re-cooking of old promises or yet more plans,” Buston said. “They need immediate action, especially from… Italy. Prime Minister [Silvio] Berlusconi now has two days [the remainder of the summit] to reverse his disastrous aid cuts and salvage his credibility.”
He also called for “significant new money” agriculture in Africa. In the G8’s declaration, leaders said agriculture and food security should be placed “at the core of the international agenda.”
Although the crisis caused by rising food costs had abated somewhat, food prices remained high compared to historical levels. As a result, the leader s said, the number of people suffering from hunger had increased by 100 million up to one billion “and could significantly worsen as the global economic crisis unfolds.” Climate change could aggravate the situation.
The G8 said that since January 2008 it had spent more than $13 billion on food aid, nutrition, social protection and agriculture. It committed to promoting increased investment in agriculture, without naming figures.