Monday, February 12, 2007

Does wealth make us more generous?

Apparently not. Data from the Reality of Aid organisation shows that OECD donor countries have failed to significantly close their “generosity gap”, which has been growing since the mid-1990s. The following graph shows how wealth per capita in OECD countries grew by 230% from $9,887 to $32,462 between 1961 and 2004.

Source: Reality of Aid

In the same period, Official Development Assistance (ODA) increased by only 50% from $55 to $83 creating an ever-widening generosity gap.

The Millennium Declaration issued by the UN in 2000 called on all countries to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty.” In September 2005, the Special UN World Summit to review progress with respect to the Millennium Declaration reiterated the longstanding goal for the rich countries to devote 0.7% of their GNI to ODA.

Ireland has already reneged on its 0.7% by 2007 commitment and pushed its target date to 2012. Japan, meanwhile, has effectively reneged on its $10 billion commitment made at the G8 Gleneagles meeting for new aid money for Africa.

On a more positive note, France, along with Spain, Brazil and Chile, has been leading the way in developing innovative mechanisms for funding development.

And Australia? Well our targets have been so modest, and so far short of 0.7%, that there is little pride is knowing we are on target to reach 0.35% by 2010.

Reality of Aid report that

Most donor countries that have so far failed to move towards the 0.7% target, can well afford to do so. The successful mobilizations in the 2005 Global Call to Action Against Poverty campaigns in many donor countries, as well as generous responses to the December 2004 tsunami, demonstrated that citizens are far more prepared to respond with generosity than their own governments.
All my letters to politicians are now posted and the breakfast table is clear of paperwork. So I have been using it to baste a quilt I am making.

We have had good rain in the Sydney catchment today! I expect the dam levels will be up this week, though I think we will have water restrictions forever more.

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