The Preliminary Accountability Report is the G8’s big attempt to convince the world they are on track to keep their aid promises. But the numbers it gives are confusing and misleading. The exercise makes a mockery of the word accountability.
The most important promise the G8 has made on aid is that by 2010, they would be giving $50 billion in development assistance with half of that money going to Africa. So far, they have only reached a total of $35 billion, leaving a $15 billion gap. The G8 say nothing about how they will keep their promise by next year.
The Report misses the chance to show how each country is progressing towards its Gleneagles commitments. They say this is because these figures are available elsewhere. But they are buried in a long report that comes out at a completely different time. The real reason is that these numbers would embarrass G8 members.
This year, the G8 is focusing on the billion people who go hungry every day. They will be announcing a new aid package on food security tomorrow. The G8 is claiming that they already spent $13 billion on food security in the last 18 months. But this claim is highly questionable. They do not give us enough information to understand how they arrived at this figure.
The detail they do give is worrying. For example, the G8 states that they spent $229.45 million on biofuels. But biofuels do not help food security. Instead, the World Bank estimates that biofuel production was responsible for up to 75% of the food price rises last year. Some of the projects funded weren’t even in developing countries.