This man is desperate for food. Our answer was to spend pounds 8m so that eight world leaders (and their wives) could talk about him

THOUSANDS of miles from Birmingham, the people of Mali knew nothing of the grand meeting of First World leaders at the weekend who gathered, with their wives and entourages, to discuss global affairs.

The man begging for morsels in the picture, like millions more in Africa, can expect a life that is poor, under- nourished and short. He illustrates painfully the gravity ofThird World poverty.

These are the poor peoples the debt relief campaigners had in mind when they demanded that the leaders of the world's industrialised nations cut debts owed by the poorest countries to the West.

They received a few fine words but little else from the G8 summit in Birmingham where the wining, dining and diplomacy of a handful of prime ministers and presidents cost the kind of huge sums that would have saved thousands of lives.

Birmingham, by contrast, is very happy. The summit has put the city on the map and pumped millions into its economy. The City Council estimates that the total spending on and by the summit in the city was between pounds 10m and pounds 11m. Of this, the official summit, the media and other visitors - such as the debt campaigners themselves - together spent pounds 2.6m on hotels, pounds 600,000-plus on food and drink and pounds 380,000 in shops.

The Foreign Office said its budget for the affair was pounds 8.3m, which accounts for a large chunk of the pounds 10million figure. But officials are remarkably reticent on details and yesterday refused to provide any kind of breakdown beyond saying they hoped to come in under budget. However, it can be assumed that taxpayers' money went on renting the International Convention Centre, a huge bill for policing and security and lesser costs of accommodation, entertainment, food, media facilities, renting Weston Hall for the retreat on Saturday and so forth.

Andrew Simms of Christian Aid said yesterday: "The cost of the summit could have provided a basic healthcare package for more than 1 million people in the least developed countries for a year. The summit might have been money well spent if it had delivered progress on the core issues of meeting human needs. But that was exactly what it did not do."

Take the pounds 2 that Bill Clinton's pint in the Malt House pub would have cost. Ann Pettifor, director of the Jubilee 2000 coalition of aid agencies, charities and churches campaigning for debt relief, said pounds 2 a person a year in Mozambique would save the lives of 600 children and the 15 women who die in childbirth every day. "We didn't begrudge the President his pint. But to accept the present debt relief scheme, as do Clinton and Blair, is to say it is acceptable for these women and children to die in order to pay debts," she said.

The council's leader, Theresa Stewart, said the summit had done the city a tremendous amount of good. "I have been informed that we will be very well placed when it comes to choosing a stage for future heads of state gatherings." Her deputy, Bryan Bird, added: "As a city, we raised ourself a couple of notches in esteem. We established Birmingham on the world stage."

World summitry is big business and Birmingham spent money to be ready. On top of a decade of inner-city regeneration, renovation programmes on the Council House were brought forward to help the city look its best. They planted their flower beds earlier than usual and laid on street entertainment in an pounds 800,000 programme to make sure world leaders saw the best of Birmingham. Glorious sunshine helped. And even the grass was dyed green.

Tony Blair, in his concluding summit statement, thanked the city for its "extraordinary and stunning display". He said: "There is no doubt this is now a major international centre."

The Foreign Office stresses that the Commonwealth heads of state conference in Edinburgh and the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in London in April both came in under budget. "We went to extraordinary lengths to make it a good value-for-money summit. We raised over pounds 500,000 in sponsorship," a spokeswoman said.

Rover provided a fleet of 100 vehicles and were credited as a sponsor, although the company would provide no details of what money was involved. "It's a prestige thing, obviously," a spokesman said. Canon, Fujitsu and the computer company Dell helped with photocopiers and other technical equipment for the media centre.

Both for the delegates' concert at Symphony Hall and for a parallel "people's concert", artists from Lionel Richie to Mick Hucknall of Simply Red are understood to have given their services for free.

The Royal Shakespeare Company, too, said it was "pleased" to have provided an evening's entertainment for the G8 leaders' wives. "I think it was seen as an honour," a spokeswoman said.

A consortium including the BBC welcomed the world's press with a lavish party in the Brindley Place development of bars and restaurants, in the city. The organiser Mike Owen, a Birmingham PR consultant, said: "I'd seen it done in America. Welcoming the media isn't essential, but if you've got these people here you ought to show them the city."

Everyone looked and saw that Birmingham was booming. Yet the comfortable aura of success did not embrace everyone. Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth was furious at the large numbers of vehicles used to shuttle the leaders around.

And most unhappy of all were the debt relief campaigners who want greater action to reduce the debts of the world's poorest countries. They argue that the present debt relief scheme for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries is inadequate because it will not alleviate poverty. They believe it is merely concerned with getting such countries into a position where they are able to pay their debts.

Jean-Louis Sarbib, vice- president of the World Bank, told American journalists: "It's not really wiping off the debt. It's just making sure these countries remain good credit risks."

The final summit communique endorsed the relief scheme but gave no targets for getting the poorest countries to qualify for debt relief under the scheme. The commitment was even weaker than the Mauritius mandate proposed by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, last year, which called for three-quarters of the poorest countries to be embraced by the scheme by 2000.

Jessica Woodroffe, of the World Development Movement, said: "If Tony Blair had got the G8 to commit to a meaningful package of debt cancellation, he would have made his mark as a world leader and touched the lives of millions." The event had turned into exactly the talking shop he said he wanted to avoid, she added.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam