Desperately needed assistance from wealthy countries to poor countries is falling, according to the latest aid figures released by the OECD today.
Oxfam Australia spokeswoman May Miller-Dawkins said the figures, released today in Tokyo, show that the total overseas aid provided in 2007 was $US104 billion, an 8.4% drop in real terms.
Ms Miller-Dawkins said the figures revealed many wealthy governments were breaking the aid commitments they made in recent years under pressure from the global Make Poverty History movement.
“We’re deeply concerned about the impact this fall in aid will have on the one billion people living in extreme poverty,” Ms Miller-Dawkins said.
“International aid plays a pivotal role in providing people living in poverty with food, shelter, clean drinking water, health care and education. If used effectively it can help them lift themselves out of poverty.”
“The fall in global aid levels jeopardises the international community’s ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – a set of eight goals aimed at halving extreme poverty by 2015, which have been agreed by 191 countries.”
Wealthy countries promised to increase aid by $US50 billion annually by 2010. Oxfam International calculates that recent trends indicate that wealthy countries will be missing this $US50 billion target by as much as $US30 billion – an amount that, used effectively, could save five million lives.
Significantly, Australia is bucking the global trend, with the OECD figures demonstrating an increase in our aid level.
“It is good to see the Australian Government gradually delivering on its commitment to increase the aid budget,” Ms Miller-Dawkins said.
“Australia should be a leader in combating extreme poverty around the world and while our aid level remains well below the internationally-agreed target of 0.7 per cent of national income, it has recovered from the embarrassingly low level of 0.22 it reached earlier in this decade.”
Ms Miller-Dawkins said the upcoming Federal Budget would provide a litmus test of the new Government’s declared commitment to growing the aid program.
“Labor announced some new initiatives to combat poverty such as additional assistance to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to our poorer neighbours in the lead up to last year’s election and we look forward to seeing the Government deliver on those commitments in the Federal Budget next month,” she said.
“Of course, if we’re serious about tackling poverty, it’s important to consider, not just how much aid we give, but how effectively that aid is being used, so it was pleasing to see the recent release of Australia’s first Annual Review of Development Effectiveness.”
This is a good first step towards improving the effectiveness of the Australian aid program, although there is much further work to be done.”
Ms Miller-Dawkins paid tribute to the influence of the Make Poverty History movement in securing these improvements to Australia’s aid program.
To arrange an interview with May Miller-Dawkins call Melany Markham on +61 407 515 559
Aid this year was $US104,421. Deflated to 2006 dollars this is the equivalent of $US95,605, a drop of $US8 billion from $US103,655 in 2006.