Oxfam, an international confederation of 15 organisations working in more than 90 countries worldwide to seek for lasting solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world, confirms that financial assistance to developing countries is set for the biggest drop in 15 years. This is as a result of austerity cuts in developed nations, making it a necessity for African countries to concentrate on their own economic development rather than relying on financial assistance from developed countries.
Calculations by Oxfam show that aid will drop by at least $9.5 billion by the end of 2012, figures which this organisation considers ‘shameless and depressingly predictable’. Oxfam adds that the amount of financial assistance likely to be cut from budgets is sufficient to educate more than half the 67 million children who cannot presently afford for education in Africa.
At the beginning of August 2012, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)’s Education for All Monitoring Report opined that a drop in financial assistance would prevent progress towards attaining basic education for all by 2015. Therefore according to UNESCO, curbing financial assistance would seriously affect the education provision in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with Sub-Saharan Africa to be affected the most.
‘Aid to basic education continues to comprise around 40 percent of total aid to education. Yet, of the $5.6 billion in aid to basic education, only around $3 billion went to the poorest countries. These countries need $16 billion a year to achieve the EFA goals by 2015, leaving a large deficit of about $13 billion,’ adds the UNESCO report.
Financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is likely to drop as a consequence of the financial crisis. World Bank financial assistance for education to the world’s poorest countries dropped by over $700 million in the last financial year and is presently at the second lowest level in over 20 years. This has happened despite the high-profile promise of an extra $750 billion in September 2011 for education to developing countries and warnings from senior executives within the World Bank that cuts in financial assistance aid would be senselessness.
‘The temptation is great when a crisis looms – as it does now – for rich countries to slash development assistance. This would be a grave mistake,’ argued the Vice President of the World Bank for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili. The top World Bank executive added that curbing financial assistance would be a serious mistake ‘not because Africa is desperate for aid, but because the global economy is desperate to see a high-performing Africa’.
According to Oxfam, these cuts, is evidence that poor people especially in Africa will pay the price of austerity measures in rich countries. Oxfam has therefore advised the developed world to look for new ways of funding development.
‘Rather than cutting aid, rich countries need to deliver on the promises they have made to the poorest people who are suffering additional hardships caused by the economic crisis and climate change,’ added spokesperson for Oxfam, Max Lawson. According to the spokesman from Oxfam, ‘Aid is only a tiny fraction of rich nations’ income so these kinds of cuts are largely totemic – a soft target in hard times’.
It is evident that African states are beginning to realise the effects of depending on the World Bank and the IMF for financial assistance. In other to propel rapid economic growth and development of African states, there is need for a unified voice especially in development initiatives by Africans for Africans. It is equally time for Africans in the diaspora to plough back to the continent via investment initiatives. African countries need to concentrate on their own economic development rather than rely on financial assistance from developed countries.