G8 fudged figures won't feed hungry says ActionAid

As the 'Group of Eight' countries releases its aid accountability report ahead of the G8 summit in France, ActionAid, who has been tracking a $22 billion food promise made in L’Aquila in 2009, says:

Yet again the G8 has released a report glossy enough for a press conference, but unlikely to feed the billion hungry in Africa and Asia.

The G8 has purposefully fudged its figures to look like it is meeting its commitments, but the truth is few nations have accurately reported where the money has gone or who it has helped. Shamefully the EU and Japan have not reported back on how much cash they have delivered at all.

With the world one failed harvest away from a food crisis, the G8 has got to start taking its hunger promises seriously.

ActionAid, who analysed a leaked copy of the accountability report, discovered the G8 had deliberately inflated food aid figures. Italy, France and Germany had included in their calculations previous aid commitments that were not part of their L’Aquila pledge. Furthermore, money used on ‘transport’, ‘land mine clearance’, ‘water supply’ and ‘sanitation’ had also been counted as aid to fight hunger.

Despite the G8’s 2009 agreement that investment in small farms in Africa was the key to avoiding a food crisis, there was little evidence that aid to agriculture had been scaled up significantly as a result of the pledge.  Whilst most African countries have for now cushioned themselves against high food prices, a significant shortfall in agricultural aid means they are perilously close to tipping point.

ActionAid is calling on the G8 to:

  • Openly publish all available data on where and who hunger cash is helping on a country by country basis.
  • Commit to delivering the full $22billion pledged in L’Aquila in the next three years.
  • Stop fudging figures by counting other aid commitments as L’Aquila money.
  • Significantly scale up overall aid to agriculture beyond the L’Aquila pledge.


For more information and interviews contact:

Natalie Curtis, +44 (0)7931787025 or Natalie.Curtis@actionaid.org


Editors' notes

How did G8 nations fare?

Australia made a high-quality pledge at the L’Aquila Summit in 2009 with the majority earmarked for agriculture.  The Australian government’s record on L’Aquila reporting is good.  However, at the halfway mark the figures show that they need to move faster in order to deliver on their commitments. Their performance is particularly slow in the case of spending on the commitments made in aid to agriculture. To keep up a good record, it is essential that the Australian government speeds-up delivery of their hunger pledge.

European Union and Japan provided no information on what they have spent so far.  Both start their pledge period in 2010 (rather than 2009) and the only data available at present tells us what they committed in that year – but not what they have actually delivered.

Canada announced new and additional commitments to the L’Aquila pledge in 2009.  They have also supported GAFSP and given money in support of country plans. However, with Canada’s pledge period already coming to an end they have only managed to disburse 80 percent of the money they committed to agriculture. 

France L’Aquila progress and reporting is embarrassing.  Following their moderately good L’Aquila pledge to agriculture, they are now failing to deliver it.   With only one year to go, based on current performance, France is highly unlikely to meet its commitments – with less than 50 percent delivered so far.  France’s performance is particularly bad on agriculture investment in agriculture. The French government are also masking their poor performance behind bad reporting.  France is inflating the amount of money reported as ‘other bilateral’ aid, which offers no opportunity to trace the impact of this money on hunger eradication.  President Sarkozy’s credibility in championing food price volatility and food security as host of the G20 this year could be undermined if France does not urgently address fulfilment of its own hunger commitments.

Germany pledged US $3bn for food security, representing US $1bn in new money. On first glance Germany appears to be on track to meet its commitments. However, good performance in some categories and a very high level of ‘other' aid being reported, mask a poor track record on aid to agriculture. Moreover, if current trends continue, Germany would have disbursed only half the money it committed to agriculture at the end of the pledge period.  

Italy made an un-ambitious initial pledge to L’Aquila. And with only one year to go before the end of the original pledge period, Italy seems to be on track to meeting its mediocre commitments. However, good performance is mainly the consequence of a reprint in categories which were not included in the original pledge.  Additionally, Italy has shifted their reporting timelines from the original 2009-2011 to 2009-2012.

The UK is on track to deliver its modest L’Aquila pledge to build a more solid foundation of support to agriculture.

The United States was a star performer in terms of pledges of new resources at L’Aquila, with a US $3.5bn pledge, of which more than half was new money. Unlike many other of their donor colleagues, who have counted a variety of programmes such as food aid, etc in their pledges, the US explicitly excluded food aid.  The US has become a champion of supporting country-led agricultural development plans and has given substantial support to GAFSP.  The one major shortcoming of the US’ performance has been speed of delivery, which has been very slow. But the main reason for the delays in disbursements are: (1) congressional budget debates and delays which are outside of the US administration’s control and (2) efforts by USAID to work with countries to develop well-considered country investment plans before disbursing funds. While these are mitigating factors, the US should make efforts to urgently speed up delivery so that it can get back on track to meeting its pledge