Poor countries did not create the crisis, but they are bearing of the brunt of its human toll. In countries where social safety nets are non-existent, even a modest economic decline puts lives in the balance. The World Bank estimates that if the financial crisis is not brought to heel soon, 1.4 million to 2.8 million children in the developing world will die of malnutrition in the next six years.
At the G-20 Summit in London, the assembled leaders agreed to relief package for the world’s poorest countries to help soften the blow of the financial crisis. Leaders promised $1 trillion for developing countries, about $50 billion of which is intended for 78 low income countries that have been hit the hardest by the financial crisis.
At the time, civil society groups expressed cautious optimism about the move. But a new report by Jubilee USA shows that donor countries have been slow to follow through on their commitments. To date, only about half of the promised funds, about $23.5 billion, has been delivered.
To that end, the report makes a pretty salient point:
$18 trillion dollars has been found globally to bail out banks and other financial institutions. Just the top 20 “too big to fail” companies on Wall Street received $283 billion in bailout money from U.S. taxpayers – that’s 10 times more than the entire G-20 has delivered in new resources to the 2.7 billion residents of the 78 low income countries. With the lives of millions hanging in the balance, the developing world is also “too big to fail”.
I’ll be watching the events in Pittsburgh to see how, if at all, the need sof the world’s poor are taken into account the next few days.