Targets for this goal are aimed at Northern governments and include major increases in development aid, relieving debt in resource-poor countries and developing a fair international trading system.
- Nearly 90% of third world debt remains. Southern countries continue to pay US $100 million per day servicing debts.
- Most rich countries are far from meeting their aid pledge of 0.7 percent of national income. If rich countries honoured their pledge, the US $120 billion per year generated would be enough to halve world poverty.
- The international trading system continues to favour rich countries and powerful companies. Unfair trade rules rob poor countries of £1.3 billion every day – 14 times what they receive in aid.
Campaigning for change
by Mari Griffith.
Unjust trade, third world debt and ineffective aid are key factors that cause poverty and lie at the heart of global inequality. In the UK, over 250 organisations, including Tearfund, have joined together to form a campaign called Make Poverty History. This campaign calls for fairer international trade rules, the cancellation of all unpayable international debt and better targeted aid.
In 2005 the UK government hosts the G8 Summit of world economic leaders and holds the presidency of the European Union, allowing key opportunities for breakthrough in these areas. Thousands of people are sending postcards and letters to the government, taking part in rallies and marches, and praying for change.
Trade: a global injustice
Unfair trade harms livelihoods around the world. Southern countries are forced to open their markets and prevented from using trade policies, such as subsidies, to help fight poverty and protect the environment. Yet rich countries continue to subsidise their farmers and protect their markets.
Burkina Faso, in West Africa, illustrates some of the issues. In the late 90s, Burkina Faso was obliged to liberalise rice prices and trade to comply with World Bank and IMF policies. As a result, cheap imported Asian rice has flooded the market and Burkina’s farmers struggle to sell their rice. Burkina Faso’s cotton farmers are struggling too. The USA and European Union give big subsidies to their cotton farmers so that they can sell their cotton at a very low price and still make a big profit. This forces down the international price of cotton. Burkina Faso’s two million cotton farmers, who get no government support, therefore have to sell at this lower price.
Halidou Yaro is one such farmer. He is married with six children. He depends on income from his cotton crop to provide for his family’s needs. But the price he gets is already low and he has been told it will decrease. ‘I was sad to hear such news,’ explains Halidou. ‘Even when the price is higher we have problems because we cannot afford our hospital bills and prescriptions and we cannot buy school items for our children. Everything we buy comes from our cotton money … I feel that poverty is coming. We are in poverty now, but a greater one is coming.’
Trade has the potential to allow millions of farmers, such as Halidou, to earn a decent livelihood. But at present it often makes them poorer. That is why Make Poverty History is calling for world leaders to stop making resource-poor countries open up their economies to unjust trade and for an end to export subsidies that damage the livelihoods of poor communities around the world.
Progress on Goal 8
Northern governments are making some progress in meeting their targets but there is a long way still to go.