Africa: Poor Countries Denied $5.7 Trillion in Aid Because of Rich Countries’ 50-Year Failure to Deliver On Aid Promises

Poor countries have lost out on $5.7 trillion in aid over the last 50 years – equivalent to $114 billion a year – because rich countries have reneged on their “solemn promise” to deliver 0.7 percent of their national income in international aid, a new Oxfam report revealed today.

“Fifty Years of Broken Promises,” published ahead of the 50th anniversary of the international aid commitment on Saturday 24th October, warns that the economic fallout of COVID-19 will increase the need for aid but will further undermine aid spending, and make it harder for poor countries to mobilise revenue from other sources. The pandemic could push as many as 200 – 500 million more people into poverty, yet just 28 percent of the $10.19 billion the UN requested to help poor countries tackle the crisis has been pledged to date.

Wealthy nations spent just 0.3 percent of their Gross National Income on international aid in 2019, and only five countries – Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the UK – met or exceeded the 0.7 percent target.

José María Vera, Interim Executive Director of Oxfam International said:

“International aid is a critical tool in the fight against poverty and inequality yet most wealthy governments have been systemically defaulting on their aid commitments for decades. This $5.7 trillion debt is paid for by the 260 million children who are out of school, the half of humanity that lacks access to essential health services, and the 2 billion people who don’t have enough to eat.”

“The coronavirus pandemic means international aid has never been more important – or more at risk,” added Vera.

The report outlines the crucial role aid has played in tackling poverty and inequality over the last 50 years – including in areas that are key to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic:

Health programmes supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria have saved more than 27 million lives since 2000. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has galvanized funding to vaccinate hundreds of millions of children, saving an estimated 18 million children from paralysis and eradicating the disease in many parts of the globe.

34 million children got the chance to go to school as a result of aid package agreed at the 2000 Dakar World Education Forum, while the Civil Society Education Fund has supported national coalitions in 60 countries to advocate for better policies and more resources for education. In Zambia, the coalition successfully lobbied for education’s share of the national budget to increase to an historic 20.2 percent high in 2014.