Rich countries cut aid to poor

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The Independent Online
WORLD poverty is getting worse but aid from rich countries to poor countries is going down and some is being diverted into programmes not connected with development, according to a report published yesterday.

The Reality of Aid, an overview of aid for developing countries by Action Aid, says: 'donors appear to be failing to live up to their commitments on aid volume'. Western governments are not fulfilling their commitments to reduce poverty - which Action Aid says is the overriding objective of aid.

'In spite of . . . a great number of assertions . . . that poverty focus is the priority, there is very little hard evidence that money is actually following the rhetoric'.

There is also a rise in the amount of aid money being diverted into other programmes such as providing assistance to asylum seekers and the reduction of debt. More aid is also being spent on emergencies, diverting it from long-term development.

Only Japan is pledged to increase aid in the next few years, while the United States, anxious to reduce its budget deficit, is cutting back. Britain is criticised for allowing Overseas Development Administration (ODA) funds to be used for the Pergau dam project in Malaysia.

Britain has a good reputation for channelling aid to the poorest, 63 per cent of British aid going to low income countries but there is concern that more British aid will be channelled through European Union structures which, despite a commitment to reducing poverty, 'have no specific ideas on improving programming in the areas which are critical such as rural credit, basic health, primary education or adult literacy'.

There is a growing lack of public confidence in aid. 'Some donors are talking down expectations for future aid levels on the basis that public support is on the wane', Action Aid concludes.