Rich countries urged to step up aid to Africa

September 20, 2010 12:00 am

, UNITED NATIONS, Sep 20 – The United Nations and the OECD called on Monday on rich nations to increase development aid to Africa, warning that it faces "steeper challenges" as a result of the global economic crisis.

In a joint review of Africa\’s progress toward meeting its Millennium development goals, the UN Economic Commission on Africa and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the results have been mixed.

"For instance, there have been considerable advances in areas such as governance, peace and security, primary education and the reduction of extreme poverty," the report said.

"But enormous challenges remain, including accelerating the rate of progress in bringing clean water and basic sanitation, and reducing the unacceptable   levels of maternal and child mortality," it said.

The gains that had been made helped Africa weather the global economic crisis but its impact was severe nonetheless, it said.

Economic growth in Africa went from an average of about six percent in 2006-2008 to 2.2 percent in 2009, which meant that growth per capita had come to a "near standstill."

Although Africa\’s economies are forecast to improve this year and next, the setback in 2009 "has left the legacy of significantly greater challenges over the five year period remaining, to 2015," it said.

The Millennium Development Goals, set in 2000, call for reducing extreme poverty in the world by 2015, while at the same time promoting education, sexual equality, maternal health, protecting the environment and combating infant mortality, AIDS, and malaria.

The progress report\’s release was timed to coincide with the opening in New York of a three day summit devoted to the Millennium Development Goals. Leaders from 192 countries will be represented at the summit, which is being held before the start of the UN General Assembly.

Africa\’s progress has been "slow" in recent years in terms of agriculture and food security, climate change, energy, environmental sustainability, water and sanitation, according to the report\’s authors.

They said it was clear that wealthy countries would not live up to the commitments they made five years ago to double aid to Africa by 2010.

What is more, Africa\’s share of the world\’s total development aid has dropped from more than 40 percent in 1990 to around 30 to 35 percent since 2000, the report said.

At the same time, the proportion of the world\’s poor who live in Africa has climbed and is expected to reach around 40 percent in 2015, it said.

Rich countries should respond by increasing the share of development aid that goes to Africa, the report said.

They must also strengthen their support in the areas of economic governance, particularly in the area of fiscal management so that African countries can collect more revenues internally and be less dependent on foreign aid.

For their part, African states must redouble their efforts to promote regional integration, the essential precondition for greater trade between African countries, and put in place basic infrastructure.


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