Agency says: 'Africa needs action not words'

 The Catholic Aid Agency CAFOD says that The Commission for Africa launched today by Prime Minister Tony Blair and backed by the rock star Bob Geldof must not be just another talking shop on Africa. At a meeting this afternoon CAFOD and a group of leading NGOs will discuss with Bob Geldof how another Commission will strengthen existing initiatives such as the New Partnerships for Africa's Development (NEPAD). CAFOD believes that only by committing the resources and political will necessary to fulfil the Millennium Development Goal of halving world poverty by 2015 will Africa ever be able to climb out of poverty. CAFOD's Head of Public Policy, George Gelber, said: "We have heard a deluge of words on how to help Africa what we need is action and action now. The UK can make a massive difference to the future of the continent by focusing on debt, trade and aid. It should be honouring the international agreement to give 0.7 percent of its gross domestic product in aid as well as tackling poverty through trade and debt reform. The UK currently gives over 0.3 percent of its GDP in aid but on current rates of increase the UK would achieve the 0.7 percent target in 2012. The Commission, which will be chaired by the Prime Minister, will look at the past, present and future of Africa in relation to economics, education, conflict resolution, health, the environment, HIV/AIDS, governance and culture. Mr Blair hopes it will come up with specific solutions, which he can take forward at the G8 Summit in 2005 at which the UK holds the presidency. "The Commission also needs to address some of the failures of past top down approaches to aid. It is not enough for donors to cherry pick their favoured aid programmes. "The relationship between donor and recipient governments should be based on jointly designed objectives that will include commitments that both sides will be held accountable to" added Gelber.

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