The G-8’s Broken Aid Promises

The Millennium Development Goals are the world’s agreed goals to cut poverty, hunger, and disease. Established in 2000, their targets were to be met by 2015. We are now at the halfway point. So far, despite endless words about increasing aid to poor countries, the rich G-8 countries are reneging on their part of the bargain.

Cynicism abounds here. At the G-8 Gleneagles Summit in 2005, member countries pledged to double aid to Africa by 2010. Soon after the summit, I was invited to a small, high-level meeting to discuss the summit’s follow-up. I asked for a spreadsheet showing the year-by-year planned increases, and the allocation of those planned increases across donor and recipient countries.

The response I received was chilling. “There will be no spreadsheets. The US has insisted on no spreadsheets.” The point was clear. Though the G-8 had made a clear promise, there was no plan on how to fulfill it; indeed, there were clear instructions that there would be no such plan.

The G-8 is now reaping the consequences of its inaction. For the first year after the Gleneagles meeting, aid numbers were padded by misleading accounting on debt cancellation operations. With those debt cancellation operations largely completed, the data are now revealing the stark truth: development aid to Africa and to poor countries more generally is stagnant, contrary to all the promises that were made.