Now is the time to act. With the opening of the World Cup and the EU heads of state summit only a few days away, this is the chance for citizens and leaders to unite in the fight against poverty.
In a continent where overcoming poverty is vital to its development, the World Cup in South Africa is a chance for public mobilisation actions and one step further to ‘kicking out poverty’. We want countries to score the goal into the MDGs net and no longer be offside with their aid commitments. The MDGs are the first truly global effort to eradicate poverty.
With the MDGs teetering on the edge of failure, rich countries need to step up efforts to catch up on their commitments. The MDGs are attainable but only with the unprecedented support of governments across the globe. Aid is a matter of justice and political will. Promises can’t be broken anymore - if rich governments had provided all the aid they committed back in 1970, extreme poverty in 2005 could have been ended 21 times over.
Since 2000, the EU fostered greater ambition globally and reinforced the notion that the MDGs were achievable. Don’t get me wrong, there are successes - a ten-fold increase in the coverage of antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS over a five year span, and considerable progress towards halving the proportion of people without access to clean water. But there are also failures - on current trends, 56 million children will not see the inside of a classroom by 2015, and the aim of reducing deaths of children under the age of five by two thirds will not be met until 2045 according to current projections. In countries like Malawi, there are examples of good aid but there are still challenges including access to essential medicines and health services. Things need to change, and fast. This year looks like it may be a year of broken promises if we don’t act now.
The EU is certainly doing its bit for developing countries – it is the biggest aid donor in the world and earlier this year we gave the thumbs up to Commissioner Piebalgs roadmap for Europe’s development policy, but it still needs to do more. The EU must keep up its role of champion of development aid and continue to score on achieving the MDGs. Its reputation as a global leader for development is at stake.
We have been told too many times that governments are committed to increasing their aid spending. But many are not on target to reach the crucial 0.7% by 2015, and some European countries are cutting their aid budgets in a time of economic turmoil. Why do governments use this crisis as an excuse to stop helping the developing world? They should be doing the exact opposite. 64 millions more people are expected to be living in extreme poverty and Europe’s economic crisis pales in comparison to the impact developing countries face. We want governments to get back on track with their aid commitments, to help the poorest of the poor, as Andrew Mitchell, UK development secretary recently pointed out.
2010 is the year for a fundamental push to achieve the goals by 2015, there are only 5 years left! As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has recently said ‘I declared 2010 the year of development – we need focus, attention and accelerate the process to achieve, to realise, the goals of the MDGs by the target year, 2015’’. Surely this is a vital moment. The EU undoubtedly has a big challenge ahead of it. We at Oxfam urgently underline the crucial importance of the EU Development Ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, the EU heads of State summit next week and the UN Summit on MDGs in September. We call on governments to act together to rebuild their trust with poor countries, and with us, in our belief that the MDGs can be reached. We don’t want them to fail!