The G7 Makes Great Strides, but Ultimately Falls Short
June 7, 2011
Web and Social Media Assistant, Global Health Policy Center
For the past five years, the ONE Campaign has been diligently monitoring the commitments to sub-Saharan Africa made by the G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States – at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. As sub-Saharan Africa was the region farthest from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Gleneagles summit placed a special emphasis on allocating aid there. Recently ONE released its 2011 DATA report, a final verdict on the ’05 meeting in Scotland and an analysis of what development aid over the past five years reveals about the future of foreign assistance.
The report shows that 2010 was the highest year on record for overseas development assistance (ODA) to sub-Saharan Africa. While recent experience might suggest that ODA continually rises, this trend – so far – has only characterized the 21st century. Indeed ONE documents that between 1990 and 2000, ODA to this region actually decreased by a staggering $1.8 billion. It’s a testament to G7 and EU countries that an additional $25.2 billion in aid has been delivered to sub-Saharan Africa since 2000. In terms of global health, these dollars have helped scale up malaria interventions in thirty-four endemic countries, saving over 750,000 lives; provided anti-retroviral treatment to nearly four million people living with HIV/AIDS; and increased agricultural production by 50% in 17 sub-Saharan African countries – a fact of particular significance in the current global food crisis.
ONE reports that these results “are living proof that investments in development are working.” In our current environment of austerity, budget cuts, and calls for slashing foreign aid – at least in the United States – it is vital now, more than ever, to have such concrete data to back up the assessment that foreign assistance is a “smart buy” that produces tangible results.
Yet while all of these achievements and additional dollars are commendable, ONE explains that the G7 only delivered 61% of what it promised in 2005.
At the DATA report launch, staff at the ONE Campaign compared this to getting a “D” in school. The monetary shortfall can be explained by the fact that three of the pledging countries countries – Italy, Germany, and France –all missed their respective goals; however, the report observed that other countries – particularly the U.S., the UK, Canada, and Japan – made significant contributions, totaling around $9 billion together. Still when only 61% of pledged promises are delivered, it’s difficult to not be skeptical about future political promises and what the international community can actually provide.
Noting this, ONE makes a series of recommendations for the future of ODA. These suggestions include: clear and collective commitments post-Gleneagles, innovative financing to mobilize additional resources, ensuring the effectiveness of every dollar committed, and the need for new partnerships built on transparency and accountability. Click here for more information on ONE’s recommendations.
Overall ONE has done an impressive job in the last five years assembling facts and analysis on the 2005 Gleneagles commitment. The DATA Report truly is a resource to anyone working in the development community and anyone who wants a transparent account of foreign aid. The new website rolled out for the Data Report’s finding – http://one.org/data – equipped with innovative graphs and visuals, provides a great tool for helping one appreciate how these enormous aid figures and abstract program descriptions translate into real projects on the ground.
As the authors of the DATA report write – “2010 was a year of reflection. 2011 is a year to look ahead.” Looking ahead to the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the next time the world will assess its progress toward fulfilling major global aid commitments, it will be interesting to see if the international community delivers on its promises or if we again, fall short.