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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 22:08 GMT 23:08 UK
Marchers provide hope for Africa
By Monica Naggaga
Oxfam Uganda Policy Co-ordinator

Arriving in Scotland just a week ago, I brought with me my thoughts of people back home in Uganda and my hope that the G8 meeting at Gleneagles would change their lives for the better.

Monica Naggaga Oxfam Uganda Policy Co-ordinator
Monica Naggaga felt the G8 outcome was a "disappointment"

People with whom Oxfam works with in Western Uganda, whose lives are in tatters and who are barely surviving.

The correct decisions made in Scotland could make all the difference to their lives.

I was also thinking of my nephews and nieces. I would like them to live in a world where there isn't so much poverty and where prosperity isn't just for the few.

I thought that maybe we wouldn't get what we were looking for from this G8, but I hoped that we would.

I was, however, experienced enough to be realistic about what could happen.

I attended the G8 meeting in Canada two years ago, which made me realise that G8 summits are strong on rhetoric about helping Africa, but can be weak on delivery.

You can never be certain how long the money they promise will take to materialise, or whether the reforms proposed will be implemented.

I was privileged to get to speak to the crowd from the stage and was extremely moved by the reception the Edinburgh crowd gave me

The first major moment of my week was the Make Poverty History rally in Edinburgh and it was certainly the high point of my visit.

The people of Scotland were so passionate about ending poverty.

Coming out in their hundreds of thousands to march through Edinburgh demanding that the leaders drop the debt, deliver more and better aid and trade justice.

I was privileged to get to speak to the crowd from the stage and was extremely moved by the reception the Edinburgh crowd gave me.

The fact that these people were joining us in the struggle to end poverty was uplifting.

The passion and drive of people power was there for all to see.

Make Poverty Histoery rally in Edinburgh
Monica spoke to the crowds at the Make Poverty History rally

When I saw then the number of people involved in the campaign out on the streets of Edinburgh in solidarity with the people of Africa, I dared to hope that this time the G8 might see it and respond.

In the days leading up to the G8 itself, I took part in a series of meetings with colleagues from around the globe who met up in Scotland.

I learned about the different positions of the different governments and also learned about the other coalitions from around the world who are all campaigning hard against poverty.

It is truly a global movement united in a desire for social justice.

However, after arriving in the town of Auchterarder near Gleneagles on Tuesday, my hope for substantial change began to diminish.

Since Tuesday, I have been busy giving interviews for media from around the world, ensuring that an African perspective is included in the coverage and to try and further increase pressure on the G8.

'Heads' of state

Our approach with journalists included "high-brow" policy briefings but also fun media events, using our team of campaigners dressed as G8 leaders with giant cartoon heads made of papier mache.

Wednesday morning found me outside the co-op store in Auchterarder with this team of Oxfam campaigners posing as the G8 leaders, wearing kilts.

I gave each of them lots of fake money which they stuffed in their sporrans, illustrating that in actual fact Africa gives much more money back to the rich countries than it receives.

This is because of debt interest repayments, because of rigged trade rules and as a result of conditions imposed on aid.

What was missing from the words of Prime Minister Blair at his G8 news conference was a sense of urgency

The world's press all crowded round and we had to do the routine many times until every camera crew and photographer had got their shots.

Thursday and events took a very unexpected turn with the dreadful news of terrorist attacks in London.

Everyone in our team was very shaken, especially as most of them had friends and family in London.

We took a few hours to take in the news and make contact with loved ones.

Coming from East Africa, where terrorism is unfortunately not unknown, I think I could relate to how the people of London must have been feeling.

Up in Gleneagles it was like a shadow had fallen over the summit but I was heartened that the G8 chose to continue their talks about Africa in spite of the atrocity in London.

Friday dawned and everyone was speculating about what the G8 would deliver.

Tony Blair backed by G8 summit leaders
Monica felt the G8 leaders let Africa down with their communique

Would months of campaigning by millions of people have made a difference?

The communique, which is the G8 final statement on their talks, was published early afternoon and can only be described as a disappointment.

It re-confirmed the deal to cancel the debts of 18 countries that was struck in London by Gordon Brown and the other finance ministers last month.

It agreed to increase aid to the poorest countries so that they get an extra $50bn a year - but not until 2010.

That's five years away. This isn't anywhere near the breakthrough that would be needed if millions are going to break out of poverty.

The G8's aid increase could save the lives of five million children by 2010: but 50 million children's lives will still be lost because the G8 didn't go as far as they should have done.

What was missing from the words of Prime Minister Blair at his G8 news conference was a sense of urgency.

As I prepare to leave Scotland one thing that is clear is that the steps the G8 have taken were as a result of the pressure coming from campaigners world-wide.

There is an emergency in Africa today and the G8's procrastination on delivering the aid it has promised means that there will be an emergency in Africa tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.

It's like someone's called an ambulance for Africa but been told it will show up in five year's time.

Hundreds of thousands of people continue to die from the effects of a life of poverty from easily preventable diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea.

I believed that the G8 leaders would make momentous steps to address this injustice but they only made small steps.

As I prepare to leave Scotland, a beautiful country with friendly and passionate people, one thing that is clear is that the steps that the G8 have taken were as a result of the pressure coming from campaigners world-wide.

It is those campaigners who have saved millions of lives.

I was proud to be part of it - and this campaign has only just begun.

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