Millions of people in the world's poorest countries face a harder battle for aid as rich nations switch their spending to safety measures amid the war on terror.
This warning comes today from Salil Shetty, chief executive of the international development agency ActionAid.
Speaking at a major international conference on globalisation and equity, Mr Shetty warned that security costs are likely to toughen competition for resources.
And the current downturn in the global economy will increase pressures on budgets. Already the Italian parliament is considering a change in national law which could allow the country to backtrack on quality and quantity targets for debt relief.
Mr Shetty, addressing the Global Development Network conference in Cairo, pointed to an aid crisis in the struggle to reduce poverty within a world of plenty. One in five of the world's people suffer from hunger, disease and illiteracy - the 1.2 billion who live below the poverty line.
He said: "There has never been a time when the gap between the stated commitments of the rich world and the resources and policies supposed to meet these aspirations has been so large."
Aid from the world's 22 wealthiest nations fell by more than $2 billion in 2000 and as a proportion of gross national income from 0.65% in 1967 to 0.22% in 2001. Only 5 of these countries have kept their promise to spend 0.7% of their income on aid.
The aid crisis reflects:
- lack of coherence between development aims and wider global policy
- a crisis of commitment in donor countries
- problems in aid payments, including disbursement, organisation and tied aid which forces the developing world to buy goods and services from developed nations' companies
- inadequate accountability from both donor and recipient governments.
Estimates suggest that at least a further $40-60 billion a year in aid is required to the meet the UN millennium goals by 2015. The goals include halving poverty and hunger, primary schooling for all children and reversing the rise in HIV & AIDS. Almost no progress has been made on the pledge to double official development assistance. Too little has been done to moderate global instability, guard poor countries from financial crises and lift their debt burdens. Further moves are needed which give access to rich nations' markets, cut the costs of intellectual property rights and channel more private investment to the developing world.
Mr Shetty called for aid to be increased, untied and based on development not geopolitical needs, with better coordination between donors and more accountability to poor people.