G8 countries $27bn short on pledge

Today 1,400 women will die needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth, 4,000 children will be killed by diarrhoea, largely as a result of lack of clean water and 80 million school-age children, most of them girls, will not go to school.

Today 1,400 women will die needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth, 4,000 children will be killed by diarrhoea, largely as a result of lack of clean water and 80 million school-age children, most of them girls, will not go to school.

Last week, the leaders of the richest and most powerful countries met at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. They could have and should have confined these statistics to history, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.

Two years ago in Gleneagles, the G8 leaders had pledged to save lives. They agreed to double aid to developing countries to $50bn by 2010, to cancel the crippling debts owed by some of the world's poorest nations and to make HIV and Aids treatments available to everyone who needs them by 2010.

But despite some progress - increased aid has enabled the Tanzanian government to put an extra 3.1 million children in primary school - the world leaders had failed to deliver on all their promises and were set to miss their 2010 aid target by a massive $30bn.

So, over the last few months, the organisations who were involved in the Make Poverty History campaign in 2005, including Oxfam, came together to tell the G8 that the "The World Can't Wait" for them to deliver their promises. The millions who got involved in the Make Poverty History campaign in 2005 won major commitments from the world's richest countries, but words mean nothing without action. We wanted cast-iron guarantees of action at this year's summit.

That didn't happen and Oxfam and other campaigners were left sorely disappointed. Despite headline announcements of $60bn for HIV/Aids and other diseases, the reality is startlingly different. The hard and sad fact is that the G8 are now set to break their Gleneagles promise to the tune of $27bn. Instead of delivering the aid they promised, the G8 has tried to get the biggest possible headline number out of the smallest possible aid increase. The $60bn for HIV/Aids, health, TB and malaria includes aid which has already been pledged as part of existing aid packages and leaves, at most, a pledge of just $3bn in new aid.

This is welcome but falls a staggering $27bn short of what the G8 pledged in 2005.

More progress was made on an agreement on climate change with the G8's commitment to a UN process to negotiate a post-2012 deal and the pledge to make "substantial emission reductions". However, the climate change text fell well short of what is required to protect the poorest and most vulnerable people already suffering from the impacts of climate change, and highlighted the lack of numerical targets.

Creative accounting will not save lives; only delivering on promises will. And with the effects of climate change already being seen, it is more aid that's needed, not less. G8 taxpayers are demanding more aid. Africa needs it. There are no excuses for what happened in Heiligendamm.

But it's not too late to make your voice heard. European leaders will meet at the end of the month to discuss global trade rules, and fairer trade deals are vital to help lift people out of poverty. Email the European leaders via www.oxfam.org.uk/g8 or www.maketradefair. com.

LUCY GLYNN, Oxfam Campaigns Officer for Yorkshire and the North East, c/o Oxfam Campaigns, Aspect Court, 47 Park Square East, Leeds, LS1 2NL

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