NGOs Take G-8 to Task for Global Poverty Commitment Shortfalls

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May 20, 2011; Source: Interaction | An association of U.S.-based NGOs, called Interaction, has issued a paper outlining its members’ commitment to get the G-8 leaders to implement past pledges of development aid to address global poverty. In 2009, G-8 leaders made a three-year $22 billion food security pledge “to encourage rural development in poor countries, and create sustainable solutions for about 1 billion hungry people worldwide.”

The primary outcome of the Food Security Initiative is supposed to be reduced child and material malnutrition, but only 3 percent of the expenditures so far have gone toward that goal compared to 50 percent ($9 billion) for agro-industries, fisheries, and forestry. Nine billion dollars means that the G-8 nations are still a few billion below the $22 billion target, but some nonprofit observers think that the G-8 nations are fudging some of their global poverty aid accounting.

Among other organizations, Oxfam and ONE have suggested that the G-8 nations have long been “cooking the books” on global aid commitments for some time, including a $50 billion aid commitment to sub-Saharan Africa that the G-8 nations say is only $1 billion short, but critics digging into G-8 numbers suggest is $18 billion under.

Some of this might not have been a problem if aid-providing nations followed the standards of the International Transparency Aid Initiative. Nineteen aid providers – nations, international organizations, and private foundations – have signed the IATI, but only three (the United Kingdom, the World Bank, and, notably, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) have published their aid data complying with IATI standards. Remember that these international aids are not only from nations, but get additional support from foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Hewlett, which signed on to the G-8 Muskoka Initiative to prioritize material and child mortality and nutrition (PDF).

Many NPQ readers might find international commitments such as L’Aquila in 2009 (food security), Gleneagles in 2005 (sub-Saharan aid), Muskoka in 2010 (maternal and child health), and others as so much international nomenclature babble, but the failure of aid donors to make these commitments real leaves people hungry and poor. The willingness to call out governments for their shortcomings is why Interaction, Oxfam, and ONE are important – and why the G-8 nations are keeping them in LeHavre while they gather in Deauville.—Rick Cohen