G8 nations accused over food aid pledges
Members of the G8 group of rich nations are falling short of pledges to deliver more than 20 billion US dollars (£13.59 billion) to support farming and fight hunger in the world's poorest countries, according to a report.
Development charity ActionAid said the credibility of G8 leaders - including Britain's David Cameron - is on the line when they gather in Canada next week a year after the 22 billion dollar (£15 billion) pledge.
At last year's summit in the Italian city of L'Aquila, the G8 countries - the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia - signed up to a pledge to "act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security".
But ActionAid research suggests that less than one-third of the money pledged is additional to previous aid promises and there is no official information on how much has actually been delivered.
The charity said that it was "staggering" that it could find no proof of an increase in funds for the agricultural sector, despite the promises made at L'Aquila.
ActionAid named the US as the "star performer" on agricultural aid since L'Aquila, with significant new commitments, while Canada, France, Germany and the UK have also increased aid. But the overall figure is dragged down by reductions in aid for farming from Italy, Japan and the EU.
Britain has committed itself to an additional 110 million dollars (£75 million) for agriculture - an increase of 34% over previous levels - said the report. But it added: "With the new coalition Government stepping out for its first international engagement at the 2010 Canadian G8, David Cameron's challenge will be to outline how they intend to deliver this money and honour their pledge."
The report said that last year's pledge, which focused on supporting the smallholder farming which feeds millions of the world's poorest people, was "one of the biggest and most important the G8 has made in years".
Malnutrition is the underlying cause of more than half of the 8.8 million deaths of under-fives each year, and three-quarters of Africa's malnourished live on small farms, said the report.
An overwhelming 70% of hungry people live in rural communities, making support for smallholdings a key to ending poverty and hunger.