Germany and Italy named by OECD among countries which have missed G8 targets — with Africa suffering most from shortfall.

Rich western countries have failed to meet aid pledges to the world's poorest countries made at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in Scotland six years ago, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Wednesday.

In its annual review of development assistance, the Paris-based OECD said donors had increased aid by $30 billion since 2005 but had fallen $19 billion short of the promises made in 2005.

Under pressure from Tony Blair when he was British Prime Minister, the G8 also agreed at the Gleneagles conference in Scotland, to increase aid to Africa by $25 billion by 2010, but the OECD said only $11 billion had been delivered.

The OECD, a club of rich developed countries, said the financial constraints imposed by the global recession were only marginally to blame for the broken pledges.

“Only a little over $1 billion of the shortfall can be attributed to lower than expected gross national income levels due to the economic crisis. The remaining gap of $18 billion was due to donors that did not meet their Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) commitments,” the review says.

Britain's aid rose to 0.56 per cent of gross national income (GNI) after increasing by almost 20 per cent between 2009 and 2010, according to the report, but many other European countries — including Germany and Italy — fell well short of the Gleneagles commitment to raise aid spending to 0.51 per cent of GNI by 2010.

The OECD warned that a comprehensive survey of donors' future spending plans pointed to slower aid growth ahead. Development assistance is planned to grow by an inflation-adjusted two per cent per year between 2011 and 2013 compared with eight per cent on average over the last three years. In 2010, total aid reached a record $128.7 billion, an increase of 6.5 per cent when adjusted for inflation. Bilateral aid to Africa rose by 3.6 per cent overall, but fell by 0.1 per cent when debt relief grants were excluded from the calculations. The OECD said the failure to meet the $25 billion target for African aid had been caused by the “poor performance” of several donors who provide a large chunk of their financial help to the world's poorest continent.

“When countries make aid pledges, they must do the political, budgetary and planning work needed to sustain them,” said Brian Atwood, who chairs of the OECD's development assistance committee. “Too often, donors commit without the backing that will enable these promises to be kept. We are promoting a new code of good pledging practice to ensure that promises are backed by plans.

“The volume of aid is a crucial factor, but there are other forms of assistance that are not classified as ODA, such as some loans and guarantees, that provide critical support to low income countries. And the contribution of new donors is important as well. We are building broader and deeper global partnerships, sharing collective know-how to alleviate poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals.” — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011

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