New figures show global aid spending remains at 1993 level

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 31 Mar 2009

New figures show global aid spending remains at 1993 level – Australian spending up, but more still needed
A 10% increase in global foreign aid spending by OECD member countries announced overnight overnight is welcome but still nowhere near enough to meet the needs of poor countries in the face of global economic meltdown, international aid agency Oxfam said today.
At just 0.3 per cent of national income of all OECD member countries, global aid remains at the same level it was in 1993.
Global aid levels for 2008 – published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in London, show Australia’s aid spending increased by almost 14 per cent from the previous year, to US $3166 (AUD $4661).
Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the increase was welcome, but Australian aid spending remained at 0.34 per cent of national income.
“That leaves us lagging behind many other OECD countries, including the UK, which has increased its spending to 0.43 per cent of its national income,” Mr Hewett said.
“The Australian Government has made a welcome commitment to lifting its aid to 0.5 per cent of national income by 2015, but the impact the global financial crisis is having on people in developing countries means we need to see this lift included in the forthcoming May budget.
“The global aid spend of US $120 billion (AUD $176 billion) is minimal in comparison to the US $8.4 trillion mobilised to prop up ailing banks.
“At US $173 billion, the American Insurance Group (AIG) alone has received $50 billion more than total global aid levels,” he said.
“The global financial crisis means developing countries need aid more than ever. AIG’s executive bonuses alone could have paid for enough teachers for 7 million children in Africa. We need to see the G20 move fast in London this week to rescue babies not just bankers,” Mr Hewett said.
Foreign Direct Investment into developing countries has collapsed by more than US $700 billion dollars since 2007, more than six times total aid levels. Remittances are also falling rapidly as unemployment rises in the rich world. Global trade has ground to a virtual halt. Aid is needed now more than ever to help the poorest countries weather the economic tsunami.
The OECD’s figures show that aid has increased by 10% in real terms in 2008 to $120 billion. However Sub-Saharan Africa- despite being the poorest region on earth – only saw a tiny increase of just 0.4% to $22.5 billion.
“Aid alone is not enough for the poorest countries to escape the poverty trap, but quality long-term aid does make a huge difference. Poor country governments have used aid to increase spending on education and health to help fight poverty,” Mr Hewett said.
For more information or to interview Andrew Hewett call Kate Thwaites on 0407 515 559