Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Aid to poorer countries will miss targets, says OECD

Children in a slum in Angola
The OECD says aid to Africa will fall well below targets

Aid to developing countries from richer nations will fail to hit aid targets set five years ago at the Gleneagles summit, a study has suggested.

Total aid will be $107bn (£68bn) in 2010 against 2005 pledges of $128bn, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has forecast.

Many countries will hit their targets, the OECD added, but others, including Greece and Italy, will not.

Aid agency Oxfam described such "broken promises" as "a scandal".

"Rich countries have no excuse for failing to deliver the aid increases they promised five years ago at Gleneagles," said Max Lawson at Oxfam.

These commitments were made and confirmed repeatedly by heads of governments and it is essential that they be met to the full extent
Eckhard Deutscher, chairman, Development Assistance Committee

"The missing $21bn could pay for every child [in the world] to go to school and could save the lives of two million of the poorest mothers and children."

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown echoed Oxfam's view when he said: "I do not believe there can be any excuse for denying money promised to the poorest people on our planet."

Africa will suffer the biggest shortfall in aid, the OECD said. The continent is likely to receive just $12bn of the $25bn pledged.

Missing targets

In 2005, 15 countries committed to give a minimum of 0.51% of their national income in 2010 to developing nations.

Some have honoured these commitments, with Sweden and Luxembourg set to donate 1% of their income this year.

The OECD said other countries set to reach the target were Denmark (0.83%), the Netherlands (0.8%), Belgium (0.7%), the UK (0.56%), Finland (0.55%), Ireland (0.52%) and Spain (0.51%).

The countries that are not are France (0.46%), Germany (0.4%), Austria (0.37%), Portugal (0.34%), Greece (0.21%) and Italy (0.2%).

Other countries made varying commitments and most, including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will meet them, the OECD said.

Poverty summit

The chairman of the Development Assistance Committee of donor countries, Eckhard Deutscher, said that although aid had increased strongly, "underperformance by [some members], 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."

Of the $21bn shortfall for 2010, the OECD said $17bn was due to countries giving less than they had pledged, with $4bn down to lower-than-expected national incomes.

Despite the shortfall, aid to developing economies will reach record levels in dollar terms, after increasing by more than a third since 2004, the group added.

Mr Brown said he would work with the European Union and the Canadian presidency of the G8 group of leading economies to put in place a new system that would make it much harder for countries to break aid promises in the future.

He added that the UK was "pushing hard" for a global poverty summit in New York later this year to set aid targets for the next five years.

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