More and better aid
Poverty will not be eradicated without an immediate and major increase in international aid. Rich countries have promised to provide the extra money needed to meet the internationally agreed poverty reduction targets. This amounts to at least $50 billion per year and must be delivered now. Rich countries have also promised to provide 0.7% of their national income in aid and they must now make good on their commitment by setting a binding timetable to reach this target.
However, without far-reaching changes in how aid is delivered, it won't achieve maximum benefits. Aid needs to focus better on poor people's needs. This means more aid being spent on areas such as basic health care and education. It should no longer be conditional on recipients promising economic change like privatising or deregulating their services, cutting health and education spending, or opening up their markets. Aid should support poor countries' and communities' own plans and paths out of poverty.
If the UK met the 0.7% target by 2008, an extra 1.5 million people could be lifted out of poverty that year.
Providing universal primary education would cost just $10 billion a year.
Young people who have completed primary education are less than half as likely to contract HIV as those missing an education. Universal primary education would prevent 700,000 cases of HIV each year, almost 30% of all new infections in this age group.
In More Detail.
An immediate annual injection of at least $50 billion is needed per year to allow countries to make progress towards the MDGs. As much as $94 billion extra may be required if countries are to meet the targets in full. Without proper funding, 30,000 children will continue to die needlessly every day from causes associated with extreme poverty:
8 million lives could be saved every year if minimal healthcare was available in developing countries.
One woman dies every minute as a result of problems in pregnancy or childbirth. Of these, 99% are in developing countries.
A child dies every 15 seconds from water-related diseases.
The developed world has a responsibility to fund international development programmes. The UK previously committed itself to the 0.7% target (that 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) would be spent on international development). The promise was made in 1970. Some 35 years later, we are still waiting for the promise to be kept.
In the 2004 Comprehensive Spending Review, the Chancellor committed to raising aid spending to 0.47% of GNI by 2007/08. That will mean a jump in aid of £1.5 billion by 2008. If growth continued at that rate the UK should finally reach its promised 0.7% target by 2013.
This new commitment is significant and welcome. Yet, by 2013, some 45 million people will be newly infected with HIV. 39 Only half of Africa's children will complete primary school and one in six will die before their fifth birthday. 40 With every month that passes without faster increases in aid, we drift further and further from achieving the MDGs.
Although UK aid is growing in volume, in historical terms it is not keeping pace with the leaps in British wealth. Britain gives a smaller proportion of its national wealth than it did in 1979, when 0.51% of British gross national income went on development assistance.
The UK can afford to reach 0.7% much sooner and in doing so would catch up with Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, all countries with economies significantly smaller than our own.
The UK is currently seeking support for a proposed 'International Finance Facility' (IFF). Gordon Brown has said that the facility could 'double the amount of development aid from $50-100 billion per year... double development aid to help us halve poverty'. The government's proposal for an IFF shows that it recognises that the MDGs are currently out of reach. This admission must lead to an immediate and major increase in the volume and efficacy of international aid, with or without international agreement on the IFF.
The UK has already shown significant leadership on aid volume. It must make a firm commitment to reach the 0.7% target and to do so before 2013. It should also provide its fair share of the additional money needed now to meet the MDGs, estimated to be at least $50 billion each year. Doing these two things would put it in a prime position to persuade other countries to contribute more to international aid.
Maura Hassan lives in Tabata, a poor area of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Although she has water pipes connected to her home, she is unable to get any water through them. Since the water supply to the area has been privatised, she has been receiving bills for water she hasn't used. Her last bill was for $400.
Maura is forced to buy water from a well dug by a private individual. Although this is much more expensive than piped water and she has no guarantee that it is safe to drink, she has no choice since the water connection to her house doesn't work. Other local families can't afford to buy any kind of water, and are forced to use the local shallow wells. People who bathe in them start to itch and those who drink from them need expensive medicines to treat their subsequent illnesses.
How does aid fit in?
Aid flows to Tanzania were made conditional on the government privatising the water system in Dar es Salaam. The move has increased water prices and made poor populations more vulnerable to water borne diseases like cholera.
The British government is heavily implicated in the deal. The water supply has been handed over to Biwater, the UK water multinational. The British taxpayer, through the Department for International Development, funded the pro-privatisation advertising campaign. A hostile Tanzanian public was subjected to a media campaign promoting the sell off, at a cost of £430,000.