By Lesley Wroughton
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Budget-strapped richdonors will call for a rethink of strategies to make sure theiraid funds are not wasted when world leaders meet this week todiscuss U.N. goals to tackle global poverty.
A three-day summit of 140 leaders starting Monday willappeal for stepped up efforts to meet the MillenniumDevelopment Goals (MDGs) -- launched 10 years ago -- by 2015.
While countries agree with the goals for slashing globalpoverty, rich nations struggling with high unemployment andrising debt, want the debate to focus on getting the bestdevelopment results from anti-poverty programs.
Of the eight goals, the United Nations agrees that the goalof halving poverty and hunger and cutting in half the number ofpeople without clean water will be met. Progress on the othergoals ranging from helping women and their newborns toenvironmental sustainability are mixed.
The global financial and economic recession has complicatedthe MDGs, forcing rich nations to cut aid budgets and slowinggrowth in poor countries hurt by the sharp drop in global tradeand soaring prices for food and fuel as well as job losses.
United States aid chief Rajiv Shah said in an interviewwith Reuters that it was time to rethink strategies fortackling poverty to focus on economic growth, accountabilityand fighting corruption.
Shah said President Barack Obama's administration, whichremained committed to boost the U.S. aid budget to $52 billionfrom about $25 billion, was pushing for a new approach tomaking aid more effective.
He called for more rigorous accountability standards,programs that emphasize local economic development overhandouts and a more aggressive effort to bring new scientificand technological innovations into development work.
TAX DOLLARS NOT WASTED
With U.S. congressional elections on Nov. 2 and voterfrustration over the slow economic recovery and highunemployment, Shah said it was vital to show Americans thattheir tax dollars were not going to waste.
U.S. President Barack Obama is due to address the summit onWednesday. Also taking part are French President NicolasSarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese PrimeMinister Wen Jiabao.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said therewere concerns that some donors could divert aid money to shoreup their own recession-hit economies.
"We need to keep the pressure on the countries to live upto their pledges. There are so many pledges that have not beenfulfilled," Stoere said, adding that countries should explorenew ways to mobilize funding to such things as climate change.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick, in prepared remarksto the summit released Sunday, said it was important to"connect the dots," emphasizing it was not enough to buildhealth clinics if there were no roads to transport people tothem.
Aid agencies said donors should also be made accountablefor the individual commitments they have made, including onaid. Aid by rich countries has remained constant at about $38billion a year since 2008 when the financial crisis erupted.
"We'd have cause for optimism if every leader at thissummit agreed to personally account for their contribution tothe MDGs," said Emma Seery, spokeswoman for global developmentgroup Oxfam.
"They have to be ready to stand up in front of theircitizens each year until the 2015 deadline and explain whatthey've done to tackle extreme poverty." (Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by ChristopherWilson)