HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO (Reuters) - U.S. and British leaders on Friday pressed other rich nations to deliver on their aid promises as they seek new ways to help poorer nations even though their own budgets are squeezed.
Five years after Group of Eight leaders heralded Africa’s progress and committed to double aid to developing countries by $50 billion by 2010, the donors have delivered only two-thirds -- or an estimated $18 billion -- of the money they promised.
A G8 summit in Huntsville, Ontario, north of Toronto on Friday, is expected to omit any reference to the unfulfilled aid pledges made at the 2005 meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, G8 and development officials told Reuters.
Canadian Prime Minister said it would put $1.1. billion in fresh funds into reducing deaths of mothers and their newborns in Africa.
While the group collectively have failed to live up to their aid promises, individually the United States, Britain and Canada met their commitments. Italy delivered none of its funding, while Germany, France and Japan gave less aid than promised, said anti-poverty group ONE which monitors the aid.
“I think it is frustrating that world leaders sign up to things and then don’t deliver them and we have to make sure that happens,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters. “We made promises back in Gleneagles. We should stick to those promises.”
The White House said in a statement President Barack Obama was urging transparency and accountability in the G8.
“The president believes that the credibility of the G8 rests on the willingness of its members to honor their commitments by reporting transparently on progress and identifying areas where additional effort is required,” the statement said.
The World Bank has warned that progress made so far in developing countries could be set back if aid levels declined further, pushing more people into poverty.
“We have to say today we have not met all the commitments,” said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso ahead of the G8 meeting. “If we want to be successful we’ll have to speed up our work,” he told reporters.
The G8’s meeting in the sleepy lakeside community provides a contrast to the hectic urban pace of Toronto, where other prickly economic issues await the larger Group of 20 summit on Saturday and Sunday.
Although the G8 cannot avoid talking about its own economic troubles -- namely the strength of the global recovery and the state of public finances -- the richest nations are carving out time to discuss problems facing poor countries.
The hosts also want a focus on Haiti’s rebuilding from a devastating earthquake. Haiti was invited to attend the G8 meeting along with Jamaica and African nations Senegal, Algeria, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt.
The United States is pushing for more agricultural investment in Africa. The G8 will discuss progress toward meeting the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, on poverty by 2015.
The goal for mother-and-child health is a particular concern, with the World Bank reporting “fragile and uneven” progress in reducing maternal deaths, a major burden for countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The World Bank in a report urged rich countries to live up to their aid pledges. It said rich countries should ensure their economic recovery so poorer states were not further hit by falling exports.
Development groups argued that many African governments had kept their end of the bargain to adopt sound economic policies and tackle corruption. Oliver Buston, ONE’s European director, said some G8 progress had been made.
“We shouldn’t be totally cynical about the potential for these summits to achieve things,” he said noting progress in education and tackling HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Additional reporting by Brian Love, Louise Egan and Caren Bohan; Writing by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Mario Di Simine and David Storey