(HN, September 21, 2010) --- A former Canadian Prime Minister has blasted major donor nations for not honouring pledging commitments made five years ago to boost progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“One of the worst things you can do to a developing country is build up expectations and then not meet them.” Paul Martin told the Globe and Mail newspaper. “The effect on government budgets, on morale, on people who believe they are about to receive help, and then don’t, is in many ways worse than if it had never been promised.”
The MDGs were forged by world leaders 10 years ago to help lift the world’s poor out of misery by 2015. This week world leaders are in New York to review progress. Martin attended the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005 where leaders pledged to boost aid to meet the MDGs. At the time Canada pledged to double its annual aid contribution to Africa to $2.8 billion but the current government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper slashed the annual pledge to just $2.1 billion.
In the Globe interview, Martin doesn’t conceal his bitterness. “I set out a number and said its not subject to revision. When the Canadian numbers were revised down, that was reneging on our commitment. The ‘reclarifying’ of numbers, which Canada, Italy and France engaged in, is exactly the kind of thing that must not happen in the future.”
Many donor nations, including the United Kingdom, are blaming the ongoing world economic crisis for slashing aid budgets.
Earlier this year, the respected NGO, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), harshly criticized major donor nations for cutting back funding on HIV AIDS prevention programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa. MSF said the situation has gotten so bad that so-called stock-outs in anti-retroviral medicines are occurring in some of the countries in which it operates.
Martin applauded the aid and other investments in the developing world made by the new economic powers such as Brazil and Korea. However certain recipient countries have not done enough to reach MDG targets, for example in education, Martin said.
One of the eight MDGs is to ensure that all boys and girls get a complete primary school education. However, UNESCO counts 69 million children out of school - down from 103 million in 2000.
---- Reporting by HUMNEWS’ Michael Bociurkiw in Toronto