Live 8, G8, UN: Is anyone actually helping?

Opinion Uncategorized

{mos_image}Live 8 was a perfect example of how well Westerners live. The stars played and spoke out, surrounded by their make-up people, plenty of booze and all gained plenty of publicity…

Madonna said in an interview afterwards she’d love to go and help out personally, something she said at the 1985 Live Aid concert also.


So a few stars played some music, some talked about Africa and most sold some CDs but what did it actually do for Africa?


The Live 8 concert was for the starving in Africa and raised three times the £10m expected.


The concert apparently forced the world to confront the Ethiopian famine. Bob Geldof’s view of the concert was a profound social innovation that helped to shape the views of those western politicians who have shown real interest in addressing the crisis of development, above all in sub-Saharan Africa.


For many relief efforts, media coverage and celebrity involvement have always been crucial.


"Ethiopia would not have got the attention it did without Live 8," says Joanna Macrae, former co-ordinator of the humanitarian policy group at the Overseas Development Institute.


Further to the £50m raised, this year’s G8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, organised world leaders meeting African leaders from Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania to discuss the issues surrounding Africa.


The international community set itself eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to achieve by 2015.


The targets on eradicating extreme poverty, combating HIV, Aids and malaria, and ensuring that every child receives primary education are:


• A doubling of aid by 2010 – an extra $50bn worldwide and $25bn for Africa;
• Writing-off immediately the debts of 18 of the world’s poorest countries, most of which are in Africa. This is worth $40bn now, and as much as $55bn as more countries qualify;
• Writing off $17bn of Nigeria’s debt, in the biggest single debt deal ever;
• A commitment to end all export subsidies. A date for this, probably 2010, should be agreed at the World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial in December. The G8 have also committed to reducing domestic subsidies, which distort trade;
• Developing countries will "decide, plan and sequence their economic policies to fit with their own development strategies, for which they should be accountable to their people";
• As close to universal access to HIV/Aids treatments as possible by 2010;
• Funding for treatment and bed nets to fight malaria, saving the lives of over 600,000 children every year;
• Full funding to totally eradicate polio from the world;

• By 2015 all children will have access to good quality, free and compulsory education and to basic health care, free where a country chooses to provide it;

• Up to an extra 25,000 trained peacekeeping troops, helping the Africa Union to better respond to security challenges like Darfur.


British Prime Minister Tony Blair said of the meeting at Gleneagles: "It isn’t the end of poverty in Africa, but it is the hope that it can be ended.


"Tens of millions of lives will be saved and with proper education and healthcare, the children of Africa have a future."


He added making sure items agreed upon at Gleneagles should be delivered within the designated time scales, but just two months on a UN report warns world leaders must take drastic action to keep their promise to end world poverty now.


It says 827 million people will suffer from extreme poverty by 2015 but the G8 plan won’t be complete until 2045.


Problems in 18 southern African countries, which have been largely ignored in the Live Aid and G8 plans, have worsened in the past 15 years putting a further 10 million people into poverty. These people face starvation if action isn’t taken now.


The UN Millennium Review Summit in New York and the WTO Ministerial in December offer major opportunities to continue the work started at Gleneagles and by Live Aid.


Hopefully both meetings will encourage leaders to follow through with their initial pledges.