At the Gleneagles G8, Bono and Bob Geldof managed to persuade the credibility-hungry leaders of the seven most powerful countries of the world (the eighth, Russia, wasn't asked to play) to participate in their Make Poverty History campaign (Today poverty, tomorrow the worldd!!). Promises and commitments were made, photographs were taken, Bono edged ever closer to that Nobel Peace Prize that has so far, ungrateful planet, eluded him.
However, according to Madeleine Bunting in today's Guardian:
Read the full article here.
What was hailed as the most ambitious G8 commitment ever made is now looking dangerously close to a sham. It was agreed at Gleneagles to double aid to reach $50bn by 2010. But instead of aid rising, it actually fell in 2006 for the first time since 1997. The figures have been massaged to look better than they should by adding in massive debt relief for Iraq and Nigeria. Strip those out, and aid fell from five of the G7 countries (Russia is not included in the aid statistics) in the year after they had made historic commitments to increase it. At the current rate, there will be a shortfall of $30bn by 2010; more than half of what was promised in 2005 shows no sign of being delivered. G8 promises aren't worth the paper they are printed on.
So who are the villains? Well, it's a change from the usual story of US infamy because the core of this problem lies in Europe. It was European countries which made the biggest promises and which are proving so lamentably bad at implementing them. That's why what happens in Heiligendamm - the last G8 in Europe for several years - is so crucial. If Germany comes up with some money then it will pile the pressure on the worst offenders - France and, above all, Italy. Aid fell in the latter by 16% last year and unless something changes fast, it will deliver a paltry $1.4bn of the $9.5bn it promised by 2010. France's shortfall is running at 50% of its 2010 aid promise. Even the UK, which prides itself on its exemplary commitment to the developing world, is falling behind. If European countries got their act together, the Gleneagles agreement would be back on track.
Bunting also notes that this year's campaign is far less successful , by which she means visible, than the previous one. Compassion fatigue, perhaps. I'd be inclined, though, to put it down to Bono and Bob Geldof fatigue. They've been eclipsed by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, royal couple to the world. Angie and Brad are better-looking than either of the other two, manage their tax affairs more discreetly than Bono and, unlike Geldof, actually have careers.