BY MELODY CHIKONO
OXFAM International has called for renewed global political commitment to international aid after poor countries, including Zimbabwe, were prejudiced of US$5,7 trillion in pledged aid over the last 50 years.
In their recent report titled Fifty Years of Broken Promises, which was published ahead of the 50th anniversary of rich countries, it warns that the economic challenges brought by COVID-19 would increase the need for aid.
Oxfam said the pandemic could push as much as 200 to 500 million more people into poverty, while further undermining aid spending and making it harder for poor countries to mobilise revenue from other sources.
Rich countries have reneged on their “solemn promise” to deliver 0,7 % of their national income in international aid, with just 28% of the $10,19 billion which the United Nations requested to help poor countries tackle the crisis having been pledged to date.
Oxfam International interim executive director José María Vera said the COVID-19 pandemic meant that international aid was now more necessary as poor countries are at risk of economic relapse.
“International aid is a critical tool in the fight against poverty and inequality yet most wealthy governments have been systemically defaulting on their aid commitments for decades,” Vera said.
“This $5,7 trillion debt can pay for 260 million children who are out of school, the half of humanity that lacks access to essential health services, and two billion people suffering from chronic food insecurity,” she said.
Recent worst scenario estimates show that the number of people living in poverty and on less than US$5,50 per day could increase by between 226 million and half a billion by the end of 2020 as a result of the pandemic.
But six months after the UN issued its global humanitarian response plan for COVID-19, which called for $10,19bn to help tackle the crisis, donors have provided only 28% of the total needed.
Real-time tracking of aid spending shows a 24,5% decrease in bilateral spending over the first seven months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that if donors decide to provide the same share of gross national income (GNI) as aid in 2020 as they did in 2019, the amount of aid could fall by US$$11 to US$14 billion in 2020 because of the contraction in GNI resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. However, aid watchdog activist, Adrian Chikowore said aid had predominantly been tied and has been serving the interests of donor countries.