Rich countries’ budget cuts hit lifeline to poor nations

Rich countries’ budget cuts hit lifeline to poor nations

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Rich countries’ budget cuts hit lifeline to poor nations

Even small cuts in aid cost lives as people are denied life-saving medicines and clean water, help organization Oxfam’s executive director Jeremy Hobbs says. AFP photo

Rich countries applying budget austerity cut their aid to developing countries by 2.7 percent last year, the OECD says, and aid group Oxfam warns that this is putting lives at risk. The cut in development aid, the first for 14 years, looks likely to continue at a time when poor countries are already suffering from a slowdown in global economic activity, trade and investment, the OECD said.

Last year, the 34 OECD members gave $133.5 billion in official development assistance, or 0.31 per cent of their combined national incomes, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report this week.

The drop-off “is a source of great concern, coming at a time when developing countries have been hit by the knock-on effect of the crisis and need it most,” OECD secretary general Angel Gurria said.
“Aid is only a fraction of total flows to low-income countries, but these hard economic times also mean lower investment and lower exports.

The largest donors in cash terms were the United States, Germany, Britain, France and Japan, the OECD report said.

The OECD is a research body for advanced nations which it advises on policy in a wide range of activities. Relative to the size of their economies, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden were the most generous, exceeding the United Nations’ aid target of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.

The biggest cuts to aid were made by Austria, Belgium, Greece, Japan and Spain, the report said.
Aid group Oxfam International said that the ability of some countries to meet their commitments and increase aid showed that cutting aid was “usually a political choice rather than an economic necessity”. Oxfam’s executive director Jeremy Hobbs said: “This cut in aid is a global scandal.”

Rich countries are using the economic crisis “as an excuse to turn their backs on the world’s poorest,” he commented.