Rich nations are 'betraying' Africa

Brown and Geldof order G8 to honour Gleneagles aid pledges

The world's richest nations will today be told by Gordon Brown to stop backsliding on their pledges to double aid to Africa by 2010. The Prime Minister will risk a clash with world leaders at next week's G8 summit in Japan over their failure to honour pledges to boost aid made three years ago.

Mr Brown is backing Bob Geldolf, who warned yesterday that high energy prices are starving the super-poor in Africa. The prominent aid campaigner and the Prime Minister fear that Japan, France, Italy and Canada are using the global economic downturn as an excuse to scale back their aid payments to the world's poorest countries.

They believe the global food crisis makes it even more important to help Africa feed itself and that rich nations will make a catastrophic error if they turn their back on the continent at such a critical moment.

The Independent has learnt that the draft communiqué for next week's G8 summit in Japan stops short of a full commitment to the aid increase agreed at the landmark Gleneagles summit three years ago, which agreed to double aid to $50bn a year worldwide and $25bn annually for Africa.

Mr Brown will try to toughen up the wording and will warn the summit that China will increase its fast-growing influence in Africa if the G8 club of rich nations reneges on its promises. Mr Geldof, who will lobby G8 leaders for the ONE Campaign in Hokkaido, said yesterday: "It is tragic and absurd that people are still going hungry in the 21st century. I cannot stand the idea that a food crisis born out of high energy prices and increasing global prosperity is starving the super-poor in Africa. None of this is helped by bad trade and subsidy policies."

He said that Japan, which holds the chair of the G8 and is the world's second-largest economy, had a duty to "care for the hungry and ill". He added: "Given the resource crises of the world at this moment, we are dismayed at the low level of expectation emanating from the table of leaders of the wealthiest economies on the planet. It's about time their actions lived up to their perhaps misplaced stature."

Mr Brown, who believes that 2008 is a "make-or-break year" for helping the world's poorest nations, has long made the issue a personal priority and is worried that the momentum that started at Gleneagles may be lost. Although Germany, the United States and Britain are on track to meet their pledges under the historic deal, Italy is behind schedule, Canada's record is mixed, there are fears that France will go slower and Japan, while raising its support for Africa, has a shrinking overall aid budget.

"The Prime Minister wants the G8 to make a strong commitment to what they agreed at Gleneagles, not just to reaffirm it," one government source said. "It would be very stupid to give up on Africa because of the economic downturn – a big strategic error to save a relatively small amount of money. If we invest in agriculture in Africa, we could bring down the price of food. Half of the food produced rots before it gets to the market. It could become the breadbasket for the world."

Mr Brown's four-point plan for the annual G8 gathering includes a $60bn boost for health care in developing nations, to recruit more health workers; extra money to meet shortfalls in a $1bn fund to stop 72 million children missing out on a primary education; and a food-crisis package.

The Prime Minister will also work to find a resolution to the stalled world trade talks, arguing that failure in the next few weeks would deprive millions of a way out of poverty. As on aid, that could put him on a collision course with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President. Peter Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner, has accused M. Sarkozy of undermining his position in the talks by attacking his plans to cut European farm import tariffs.

The ONE Campaign is urging all G8 nations to increase the quality and quantity of investments in African agriculture for the next 15 to 20 years, raising global aid from $2bn to between £9bn and $13bn a year.

"More than half the population of sub-Saharan Africa depend on farming to survive, yet farming has been terribly neglected in economic development programmes," said Oliver Buston, a spokesman for ONE. "Increasing food production is critical to saving lives as well as generating sustainable long-term growth." He added: "Every G8 summit since 2005 has repeated the historic commitments made at Gleneagles. To dilute those promises would be a serious breach of trust and credibility."

Other issues on the summit agenda include climate change, the global credit crunch, rocketing oil prices and the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Click here to have your say

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat