Thursday, 4 September 2008

Last-ditch diplomacy: Agenda for Action still needs action, says Oxfam

According to Oxfam International, last-minute negotiations pushed by developing country and European ministers at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness have secured commitments to improve international aid. The world will now be watching to ensure all donors implement the Accra Agenda for Action and go further to make aid more responsive to the priorities of developing countries. “The stage is set for important improvements in the way aid is delivered. But the Accra Agenda needs to be backed by urgent action if it is to live up to its name. It won’t have any impact on the lives of people living in poverty unless its promise is put into practice,” said Oxfam International head of delegation Robert Fox. “This agreement must be a floor, not a ceiling. We encourage all donors to go further in accelerating the pace of reform.”

A compromise agreement was reached among official negotiators on Wednesday, without any time-bound targets. But developing country and European ministers arriving in the Ghanaian capital argued for specific commitments and dates for action. Developing countries and non-governmental organisations have pointed to the urgent need to reform aid to prevent waste and give developing countries more control.

“There is much more that can and must be done to improve quality, but equally important we need to boost the quantity of aid if we are going to end poverty and improve access to health care, education and clean water,” said Robert Fox. “At the UN meetings later this month on the Millennium Development Goals and the November meetings on development finance, donor countries have to get serious about scaling up aid to meet the enormity of the challenge. With more and better aid, we can make a real difference.”

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