Thursday, July 03, 2008

Roadmap For African Development Calls on Donors to Pay Up

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt 1 July 2008 Sapa-AFP


African leaders and international development bodies launched a roadmap on Tuesday to achieve the UN's flagging Millennium Development Goals, calling on donors to stump up promised aid.

Ahead of next week's summit in Japan, the UN and other development agencies called on the Group of Eight industrialised countries to "make good on its existing promises to support African development," a statement said.

"African leaders are looking to the G8 to turn their existing
promises into action - the credibility of international commitments is at stake," said African Union Commission chief Jean Ping.

The report, described as a landmark consensus on how to achieve the MDGs in Africa, was released on the final day of an African Union summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The MDGs were launched in 2000 and involve an eight-point action plan to reduce poverty and improve healthcare and education in Africa to be achieved by 2015. At the half way point, few of the goals are on track.

"Until now, we have not had a clear understanding amongst the major multilateral institutions on the specific policies, projects and programmes that need to be implemented to get Africa on track to achieving the MDGs," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is currently in Japan, was quoted as saying.

"The MDG Africa Steering Group recommendations provide a roadmap for unprecedented and much-needed progress in the region," he said.

AU Chairman Jakaya Kikwete said the report's recommendations for stepped up aid were "a call to action."

"They outline focused investments in agriculture, education, health and infrastructure that are critical to present and future efforts to reach the MDGs.

"We now need to implement the recommendations to ensure that we halt the spread of hunger, disease and suffering."

Rising food prices, record energy costs and climate change all threaten to reverse existing advances toward MDGs, the statement said.

The World Bank estimates that high food prices and climate change could together drive more than 100 million people into extreme poverty. This would undo most of the gains the world's poor have made over the past decade.

Development aid to Africa has increased by only about a quarter of the 25 billion dollars promised, the statement said.

The report was released as Ban appealed to rich nations not to backtrack on assistance to Africa at the July 7-9 G8 summit in Japan.

Leaks of the draft statement for the summit suggest that rich
nations will water down their commitments.

"They have the capacity, they have the resources and I hope the leaders will demonstrate their political will," Ban said in Tokyo.

Reports have said that the draft statement of the G8 summit-which brings together Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - will not cite a specific figure on development aid.

The 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, called for a doubling of rich nations' foreign aid by 2010 to 50 billion dollars, half of it to Africa.

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