Global leaders fail to put their money where mouths are: Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 25 Sep 2008

As world leaders meet in New York at a special summit on poverty – the High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals – aid agency Oxfam has slammed the lack of urgency by the international community in tackling the ongoing food crisis now affecting close to one billion people.
Oxfam said that while the rich world had deep pockets when it came to bailing out banks, the needs of the poorest had been sidelined.
Oxfam calculations reveal that so far close to US$13 billion has been pledged for 2008 to help poor countries cope with the increase in food prices but only a fraction has been disbursed. The UN estimates that US$25-40 billion per year in additional funding is required to resolve the global food crisis.
“Global leaders have failed to put their money where their mouths are,” Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said. “Despite their good words, donors have failed to live up to them.
“This seems to be routine for some leaders when it comes to dealing with poverty: they pledge large sums and then fail to live up to their promises. The US Government plans to spend more than $700 billion to prop up financial institutions. This sum is more than five times all foreign aid pledged by developed countries and twice the total GDP of all 49 Least Developed Countries combined.
“At least seven out of 10 of the world’s hungry are women and girls. Immediate responses should focus on meeting their needs.”
Mr Hewett said Australia was one of the few countries that had put its money where its mouth was prior to the summit.
“Australia needs to move quickly to persuade rich countries at the summit to put their money on the table. Only action can prevent further human suffering and lost lives,” he said. “The Australian Government’s injection of $10 million in humanitarian aid for communities affected by severe drought in Ethiopia is welcome, as is the $12 million pledged for Afghanistan; Australia is one of the first nations to pledge $50 million to the World Bank’s trust fund to support agriculture in developing countries.”
Earlier this year, the European Union announced €1 billion in new assistance for developing country agriculture – the funding coming from savings to European farm programs due to high agriculture prices. However, key member states are squabbling over the funds. Oxfam is urging key European member states to release the money.
“If a child died every three seconds in the rich world, leaders would have an emergency summit every day, not every eight years,” Mr Hewett said. “They have given themselves two days to put poverty back on the political agenda. New York must be remembered as the moment when the tide turned on poverty.”
For more information, please contact Laurelle Keough, Oxfam Australia, on 0409 960 100, or