When is a promise not a promise?

If the world leaders were to meet their promises to provide US$50 million by 2010, it could help pay for more classrooms, teachers and health workers.

We all break promises every now and then.

There can’t be that many of us out there who’ve promised to show up for a friend’s birthday, or a get-together with the grandparents, knowing full-well we had no intention of going in the first place.

Politicians are no exception. They’re well-known for exaggerating the possible and not keeping to promises they made while they were campaigning to get voted in.

A little slip here and there, perhaps that can be forgiven. But promising to boost aid to developing countries and then only providing a fraction of it? Well, that’s a bit different. These are promises that can be the difference between life and death.

Unfortunately, breaking promises is something that the G8 have become remarkably good at.

In 2005, people around the world stood up and spoke out by taking part in Make Poverty History. It was a landmark year for anti-poverty campaigning, with more than 43 million people taking part by wearing white bands, going to concerts and by protesting.

The G8 world leaders listened and promised to boost aid to developing countries by US$50 billion by 2010.

Thing is, most G8 governments are far from sticking to their words. If the G8 countries carry on as they are, they’re going to miss the target by about $30 billion.

Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. have increased aid to Africa by less than half of the amount needed.

That money could pay for more doctors, nurses and teachers. It could help save 5 million lives.

And it’s not a case of rich countries not being able to afford it either. Current aid levels are just 0.28 per cent of the combined income of rich countries. That’s less than one tenth of global military spending. And only half the proportion of their income that was given as aid to poor countries in 1963.

Last week, the G8 leaders met in Tokyo at a Development Ministers’ meeting and reaffirmed their aid promises.

But it’s not enough for them to simply make more promises if they’re just going to break them again. There needs to be an emergency plan and a clear timetable of how they are going to get back on track.

You can keep the pressure, and help make sure they get back on track, by signing our Six Million More pledge, and demanding a world where everyone has access to free health care and education.

Source: Oxfam

Photo: Kris, licensed on CC Attribution 2.0, published before on Flickr

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