British ministers’ claims that they are leading the global fight against poverty will ring hollow unless the government changes policies which harm rather than help developing countries.
This message came loud and clear this week from international development agency ActionAid as Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa held its last meeting in London.
The commission — including Ethiopian premier Meles Zenawi, South African finance minister Trevor Manuel and Sir Bob Geldof as members — will report next month.
Blair aims to win support for the commission’s proposals from other rich nations’ leaders when the UK chairs the G8 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland in July.
But African campaigners for ActionAid launched their own report which showed:
ActionAid says the UK — which also holds the EU presidency from July — must reform negative Africa policies on issues like aid, trade, arms, corruption and privatisation.
We published another report — Heroes and Villains — on EU member states, which criticised Britain’s record. It said EU countries must spend 0.7 percent of national income on aid by 2010 to achieve the anti-poverty UN Millennium Development Goals. Yet among the nations that have set timetables to reach 0.7 percent, Britain’s target, 2013, is the furthest away.
A third of UK aid does not go to low income countries. And the UK has paid under a third of its pledged money to a key part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) trust fund—only $29 million of $95 million.
For more go to www.actionaid.org.uk