G8 says committed to fulfilling Africa aid pledge

TOYAKO, Japan - Leaders from the Group of Eight rich nations reassured skeptics on Tuesday that they were "firmly committed" to the aid target for Africa that was pledged at Gleneagles in 2005.

By (Reuters)

Published: Tue 8 Jul 2008, 10:07 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:48 PM

In 2005, G8 nations vowed to raise annual aid levels by $50 billion by 2010, $25 billion of which was to go to Africa. This pledge was reiterated at last year's summit in Heiligendamm, Germany.

Aid workers and NGOs have expressed concern that donor countries might fail to meet their promises, which are not legally binding and are hard to track in actual spending.

"We are firmly committed to working to fulfil our commitments on ODA made in Gleneagles," the G8 said in a statement on Development and Africa, referring to overseas development aid.

The leaders further suggested that aid from the group and other donors should be reassessed and might need to be increased after 2010.

A report last month by the Africa Progress Panel set up to monitor implementation of the Gleneagles commitments said that under current spending plans the G8 will fall $40 billion short of its target.

The G8, meeting for their annual summit on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, tried to brush off such worries.

The statement followed a meeting between G8 and African leaders on Monday in which the G8 chiefs were urged to keep promises to help their continent and pleaded with them to remember that soaring oil and food prices were making their poverty worse.

Not satisfied

Some advocate groups were not fully satisfied.

"The world economic situation has limited the ambitions of this G8 but the plain fact remains that there was a political contract in 2005 of deep seriousness," musician-activist Bob Geldof, who was in Hokkaido to work on the fringes of the summit, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The fact remains that the numbers are so small that the eight wealthiest economies in the planet can easily, without argument, meet their commitments if they choose to. How else are banks bailed out overnight or military expeditions funded, among other examples? It's not the money, it's the will."

This year marks the half-way point to reach eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the U.N. General Assembly in September 2000 to reduce world poverty by 2015.

The G8 renewed their commitment to the MDGs while acknowledging in its statement that significant challenges remain at the mid-point to those goals despite some progress.

The group expressed its determination to honour in full their commitments to fight infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and polio, and work towards the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care by 2010.

"Important new initiatives announced today include a pledge to provide 100 million long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets by 2010, increasing the number of health care workers and a commitment to fight neglected tropical diseases, treating 75% of people affected over the next 3-5 years," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement.

At last year's summit in Germany, the G8 pledged $60 billion to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, but the declaration set out no specific timetable, nor did it break down individual countries' contributions or spell out how much of the total funds had been previously promised.

The G8 leaders said on Tuesday that they would work towards fulfilling the $60 billion pledge over five years, but some activists still called this timetable inadequate for poor countries' needs.

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