False promises of Aid to Africa

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Aid to developing countries has increased by 35% since 2004, but some G2O countries have failed in their promises. According to OECD, development aid is 21 billion dollars short of financial commitments made by rich countries in 2005.

Insufficient. Development aid pledged by France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Japan to the poor countries, particularly in Africa, have fallen short of their targets. The seven countries have been classified as “poor performers” by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), at a time when financial assistance is needed more than ever.

According to a report released Wednesday, February 17, by OECD, the results achieved this year is 21 billion short of pledges made by rich countries in 2005. According to Eckhard Deutscher, Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), “Aid has increased strongly as 16 donors have honored their commitments. But underperformance by the others, notably Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, and Portugal, means overall aid will still fall considerably short of what was promised. These commitments were made and confirmed repeatedly by heads of governments and it is essential that they be met to the full extent.” And the shrinking of economies linked to the crisis is only a flimsy argument, valued at approximately $ 4 billion.

“I want to emphasize the necessity, the absolute imperative of our support to poor countries”, said Nicolas Sarkozy on 1 April, 2009 at the G20 summit in London. But, although some of these countries have upped their aid, the contributions are not as much as they had promised. OECD analysis show that Africa may receive only 12 billion USD out of the total 21 billion pledged at the summit in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005. Countries in the euro zone had pledged to contribute up to 0.51% of their gross national income (GNI). Out of the 15 members, only 9 have kept their promises (Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland) and 6 are likely not to do so (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal).

But the Euro zone countries are not the only culprits in the OECD report. At Gleneagles, Japan promised to give 10 billion more in 2010 as against its 2004 ODA. In 2008, Japan’s contribution was 4 billion dollars short of its commitment. Although Japan’s ODA for 2010 is not yet known, there are doubts as to whether the gap will ever be filled. Simon Scott, Head of Statistics and Monitoring Division at OECD indicates that there is little information to suggest that Japan and the six countries in the euro zone will achieve their set objectives.

“The ODA will not be the variable adjustment for public expenditure”, Nicolas Sarkozy declared during a meeting with French NGOs September 17, 2009 in Paris. OECD’s Simon Scott does not think that the impact of the crisis alone can explain the failure of some donor countries to honor their promises. Spain, albeit hit hard by the crisis, had the merit to honor its commitment.

“The fight against poverty does not boil down to promises!” insists Jean-Louis Vielajus, President of Coordination SUD, the national coordinating body of French NGOs for international solidarity. “The English and Spanish examples prove that the crisis does not warrant such departures from commitments.” Scott Simon acknowledges that although France has increased its aid, the increase has not been at the required rate. The OECD official also indicates that France has not topped its contribution in order to achieve the 0.51% GNI objective. In 2008, France only contributed 0.39% of its GNI. In 2010, this figure, as forcasted by the OECD, would increase to 0.46%.

“A significant increase,” says Scott, “but it must be interpreted cautiously, as the GNI (ie the denominator) has decreased due to a slowing down of the 2009-2010 French growth. In March 2009, at the Doha summit, France committed itself to a 0.7% ODA of its GNI by 2015.

France’s poor performance, however, needs to be reviewed. OECD figures account for bilateral contributions (country to country) from donor countries and not multilateral aid, directed towards institutions. It would also be recalled that in 2007, 57% of French bilateral aid went to Africa. Wednesday, February 17, France also pledged 325 million euros in aid to Haiti.

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Fabien Ortiz
An unkempt bookworm with an insatiable appetite for travel. Carrying with him three nationalities (French, American and Filipino), Fabien Ortiz has a foothold in three different continents and a solid interest in Africa. A political science and history graduate from McGill University in Canada, he has worked for newspapers and radios in France, the United States and Switzerland. He currently works in Washington D.C., an interesting vantage point from which to watch world affairs. And yet he already knows he will soon be setting sail to other destinations, dreamily describing his experiences, casting a critical glance on social and political trends, people and events.
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