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U.N., IMF Release Reports On How Global Economic Crisis ‘Dealt Critical Blow’ To Aid For Poor Countries « » The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

U.N., IMF Release Reports On How Global Economic Crisis ‘Dealt Critical Blow’ To Aid For Poor Countries

Ahead of next week’s U.N. Millennium Development Summit, “[t]he United Nations and International Monetary Fund said Thursday that the global financial crisis has dealt a critical blow to aid for poor countries with billions of dollars needed to meet shortages,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Both institutions said that the world must return to sustainable growth to hope to reach global poverty and health targets” (Donnet, 9/16).

“In a position note (.pdf) before a United Nations summit of world leaders next week to take stock of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the [International Monetary Fund] said the goals will be difficult to meet without restoring growth,” Reuters reports. (Wroughton, 9/17).

“Outlining its recommendations for achieving the [MDGs] … the IMF also urged poor countries to rebuild buffers against shocks that were depleted during the global crisis and to spur infrastructure development,” Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal reports, in an article that examines the group’s  suggestions on how to bolster economic growth in poor countries. According to the IMF report, “Collective action by advanced and dynamic emerging economies is needed to ensure a restoration of sustained, balanced global growth, which is a precondition for restoring growth in [low-income countries],” the news service writes (Barkley, 9/16).

“Progress on the MDGs can and must be restored,” IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky said Thursday, according to an IMF transcript. “The central task is to attain strong, sustainable, and balanced global growth, and to restore the macroeconomic stability that had been so beneficial for boosting growth in the developing countries. Without meeting this triple target of strong, sustainable and balanced growth, prospects for achieving the Millennium Development Goals would be reduced irretrievably” (9/16).

A separate U.N. report (.pdf), also released Thursday, “predicted that Official Development Assistance (ODA) will rise from 120 billion dollars in 2009 to 126 billion this year but this will not meet the promises made by the Group of Eight nations at a 2005 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland,” AFP continues. “The eight nations promised then that they would double their aid spending to 50 billion dollars a year by 2010 and double aid to Africa to 25 billion dollars” (9/16).

“Although official development assistance (ODA) is at an all-time high, we are $20 billion short on commitments made for this year,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the report, according to a transcript from the briefing. “Africa accounts for 80 percent of that gap, that means $16 billion. It is particularly distressing that the place of greatest need is also the place that accounts for the lion’s share of the shortfall,” Ban added (9/16).

“The new report cautions that economic recovery is ‘still very fragile and uneven,’ hampered by the continuing job crisis and mounting public debt,” according to U.N. News Centre. The report also highlighted the fact “the global development partnership ‘stands at a critical juncture’ since there are only five years left till the 2015 deadline for the MDGs and that other commitments made by groups of countries – including at the so-called Doha round of negotiations on reducing international trade barriers – have little chance of being achieved by this year” (9/16).

“Taken as a whole, this report paints a picture that should motivate world leaders to act with urgency at next week’s Summit,” Ban said, according to the briefing transcript. “But while the gaps are serious, let us not be daunted by them. Despite setbacks, shortfalls and obstacles, we have the tools and the resources to achieve the goals by 2015. … I urge world leaders to renew their commitment to the global partnership for development. We must not balance our budgets on the backs of the poor” (9/16).

Meanwhile, VOA News reports that it’s not just world leaders that global health experts will be watching next week for commitments to the MDGs. “We hope to see a renewed commitment by not only world governments, but by the private sector, non-profits and individuals and foundations and all sorts of people to meeting the world’s Millennium development,” U.N. Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin said, according to the news service (DeCapua, 9/6).

Despite Challenges, Signs of Progress Towards MDG Targets In Sub-Saharan Africa, Report Says

Five years before the target date for the MDGs, a new MDG report card (.pdf) by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) documents several sub-Saharan African counties who are “making substantial progress” on the MDGs, VOA News writes (DeCapua, 9/16).

The report highlights gains in “Ethiopia, where the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 61% to 29% in 18 years and primary enrolment increased from 22% to 72% in 16 years” as well as in “Angola and Niger, which have reduced their under-five mortality ratios by more than 100 per 1,000 deaths in less than two decades,” according to an ODI summary of the document (September 2010). IRIN, also reporting on the ODI report, examines several keys to Ethiopia’s progress in education. The article also notes Ghana’s progress in MDG targets, highlighting how the government’s commitment to improving the agricultural sector helped to cut hunger levels in the country (9/16).

A Reuters factbox lists the eight MDGs and notes global progress toward the targets (9/17).

Lancet World Report Examines Efforts By African Leaders To Achieve Maternal, Child Health MDG

A Lancet World Report examines the efforts by African leaders to achieve the MDGs relating to maternal and child health – a focal point of the African Union (AU) summit.

“In a declaration issued after the summit, the leaders vowed to honour a pledge they made in 2001 to devote 15% of their national budgets to health. The leaders also promised to strengthen health systems to provide comprehensive maternal, newborn, and child care services. Moreover, the leaders promised to work to address the huge shortage of health workers in Africa, currently estimated at a 800 000 shortfall,” the Lancet writes. Still, as the piece notes, health advocates have been critical of African governments’ commitment to health issues. “According to statistics compiled by the Africa Public Health Information Service, based in Nigeria, budget allocations to health in Europe and America are 14.8% and 16.8% respectively, compared with Africa’s average of 8.7%. Most African countries spend less than half the WHO recommended minimum package of $40 per person on health.”

The article references several cost-effective measures for scaling back child and maternal deaths, and notes how increased investments in maternal and child health have benefitted countries in Africa, such as Malawi and Rwanda. The piece includes comments by U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro as well as representatives from women’s and children’s health organizations (Wakabi, 9/18).