Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Many Leaders Warn Credit Crisis No Excuse to Decrease Aid

Rich nations not keeping aid promises -Blair
Credit crisis will hit developing countries hardest

A poverty summit convened last week at the UN in New York City. The main topic of discussion was the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were created to halve global poverty by 2015. Many speakers also talked about an African aid goal set by the G8 in 2008. (Please refer to this previous post for more discussion.) In 2005, the G8 pledged to double its aid to Africa by 2010.

Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister and the main proponent of the G8 pledge, urged rich countries to uphold their pledges and continue to increase aid to Africa. Mr. Blair cited many improvements that were the result of the increased aid, but warned that much more needed to be done. Blair said, “The truth is there's been a substantial increase but it's not the increase that we pledged, and therefore there's more that's got to happen."

Tony Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, added that the current credit crisis cannot be an excuse for rich countries to back out on their aid pledges, whether to the MDGs or to Africa. He was not alone. Dutch Development Minister Bert Koenders was also worried that leaders, especially in the US, may not fulfill their pledge. He said, “People in Wall Street who turn out to have cheated everyone are receiving 38 billion in bonuses. That's equal to all the aid to Africa.”

Right now it is unclear whether the credit crisis and the proposed US bailout (which is still in limbo) will affect the US and other rich countries’ ability to give the pledged aid to Africa. The UN has pledged its continued support of the MDGs. It is clear that a vocal group of leaders around the world will do what they can to hold other rich countries accountable for their pledged aid. Only time will tell if they are successful.


1) It is true that the US did pledge to increase aid to Africa and to meet the MDGs. However, these pledges came before the enormous problems the US faces with its credit crisis. Is it right to still expect the US to contribute large amounts of aid when, arguably, the money could be used at home? Does the US have a special responsibility to live up to their promises because of its vast wealth and influence? If the US doesn’t live up to its promises will other nations follow suit?
2) What do you think the public perception is about aid to poor countries? Should there be a grassroots effort to raise public awareness of the increased African aid and the MDG? Could more public awareness lead to more governmental accountability?

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