Only a few weeks now until we head off on the adventure of a lifetime.
All the planning is nearly done with just a few little bits left to do. Wendy has been fantastic in all her planning allowing me more time to focus on training. On my blog for this trip I will try and give you a good insight on the challenges I face and the people we meet along the way. I will try to keep it light hearted and give you a few laughs along the way. I’m not going to constantly preach about world poverty but I would like to let you know my reasons for doing this walk.
In 1990, 12 million children under the age of 5 died from starvation or starvation related illness. By 2010 that number had dropped to 7.6 million – a drop of 41%. That drop in deaths is a direct result of how well foreign aid has worked over the last few decades. We are slowly winning the fight against extreme world poverty but it’s important that we don’t take our eye off the ball and rest on our laurels.
In 2000, 191 heads of government around the world agreed on eight Millenium Development Goals, each with specific targets and indicators directed at halving global poverty by the year 2015. We are now 2 years away from this target and are on track to reach some of these goals but not all of them – more still needs to be done.
In March 2002, 22 of the world’s wealthiest countries including Australia agreed to make “concrete efforts” towards the goal of each giving 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) as aid to the poorest countries in order to raise the $195 billion dollars a year required to achieve the Millenium Development Goals.
Currently Australia are donating 0.35% of GNI in foreign aid, only half what we should be and have no timeframe to meet this target as you can see in this table (click to view full size). I am not asking the Australian government to be a world leader in eradicating extreme poverty from the world but I am asking them to do their fair share.
The United Kingdom have just committed to 0.7% of GNI this year and have come out and publicly said they will not try to balance their budget by cutting Foreign Aid to the world’s poorest people, the ones that need it the most. But yet Australia deferred its promised increase in foreign aid at the last budget and are now using $375 million of our foreign aid to help with our boat people crisis. All this to try and keep an election promise of getting our budget back into surplus by 2012-13. These cuts are estimated to cost in excess of 100,000 lives. Do you really think that is fair? We don’t and we felt we needed to do something to bring these facts to the attention of the Australia people.
Individual Australians as a median are twice as wealthy as any other country in the world so there is the wealth here in this country to comfortably commit to giving 0.7% of GNI so really there is no excuse for us not to be doing our fair share on the world stage in eradicating world poverty once and for all. Australia is a very lucky country and we don’t want it turning into a greedy country where all we worry about is ourselves – we are a better country than that. The Australian spirit which has been built up over many years is based on helping one another when they are in need and not running away from the problem.
I would like to invite you to join us in asking the government to re-commit to giving 0.7% GNI in foreign aid, a commitment we have waived from in recent years. If we commit to the 0.7% we are doing our part in hopefully eradicating extreme poverty from the world in the next generation which would be one of mankind’s greatest achievements and create a fair and safe world for everyone.