ID :
Fri, 09/05/2008 - 19:18
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Declining aid to poor nations impediment to millennium goals

Dharam Shourie

United Nations, Sept 5 (PTI) Declining aid to poor
nations as food and energy prices rise and world economy
slowing down is making it difficult to reduce poverty and
achieve the Millennium Development Goals (M.D.Gs.) 2015, a new
United Nations report warns.

The donors would need to boost their development
assistance by U.S.D. 18 billion a year between now and 2010 to
meet the goal of halving the poverty by 2015, the goal set by
the world leaders in 2000.

Trade and aid are still major barriers on achieving the
anti-poverty goals despite significant progress in debt relief
for the poorest States, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in
the report.

The report "Delivering on the Global Partnership for
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (M.D.Gs.)" launched
ahead of high-level meeting on evaluation of progress of
M.G.Ds. set for September 25 when world leaders would be here
to attend the annual session of the 192-member General

"This report sounds a strong alarm," Ban told a news
conference Thursday. "While there has been progress on
several counts, delivery on commitments made by Member States
has been deficient, and has fallen behind schedule."

It states that though donor countries have stepped up
official development assistance (O.D.A.) since 2000, aid flows
have actually declined in recent years – by 4.7 percent in
2006 and a further 8.4 percent in 2007.

In addition, the recent breakdown of the Doha development
round of trade negotiations – aimed at establishing an open,
equitable, rule-based and non-discriminatory multilateral
trading and financial system – was "a major setback" for
developing countries seeking to benefit from expanding global
trade opportunities to reduce poverty, it added.

The report says only 79 percent of exports from least
developed countries are given duty-free access to the markets
of developed countries, well short of the target set in 2005
of 97 percent. In addition, there has only been a mild
reduction of tariffs on agriculture exports.

While there has been progress on debt relief, the
report cites the need for further action, noting that in 2006,
52 developing countries spent more on debt service than on
public health and 10 spent more on it than on education.

Wide variations in pricing mean that essential medicines
– including antibiotics and painkillers – are often
unavailable to the poor, the report warns.

Regarding technology, the report says developing
countries have unprecedented access to new information and
communication technology (I.C.T.), with over 77 percent of the
up from 46 percent in 2001.

However, the digital divide between developed and
developing countries continues to widen for technologies such
as broadband internet connection, the report adds, noting that
more than 30 percent of people in the developing world are
still living without electricity.

Ad Melkert, Associate Administrator of the U.N.
Development Programme (U.N.D.P.) and chair of the Task Force,
recalled recent findings by the World Bank showing that the
number of people living in absolute poverty globally is
estimated to be 500 million higher than previously assumed.

"This serves as a reminder that the relentless focus on
the facts on the ground is key to maintaining the momentum of
the Millennium Goals campaign," he stated.

He also emphasised the "indispensability" of a larger
commitment by the rich world towards M.D.Gs. 8, which he said
between the rich and the poor."