More aid needed to meet development goals - Meles

Wealthy nations must quadruple aid to Ethiopia if it is to escape the mire of poverty and meet the 2015 international goals, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Tuesday.

Meles also called for debt cancellation and fair trade if the country - one of the poorest nations on earth - is to overcome massive and entrenched poverty. Ethiopia, he added, receives around US $13 per capita in foreign aid compared to other African countries that receive around $30.

Officials estimate that Ethiopia needs $122 billion over the next decade if it is to wipe out poverty and hunger. It currently receives $1.9 billion in aid a year.

"We can only sink or swim together," the prime minister told senior-level UN officials, diplomats and Ethiopian ministers in Addis Ababa.

His comments come after the UN released its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report on Monday. The goals aim to prevent poverty, hunger and disease around the world.

The project estimates that aid must increase from current levels of around $50 billion a year, to $195 billion by 2015 to achieve the MDGs.

In Ethiopia, where almost half of the 70 million people live on less than $1 a day, debt repayments outstrip health care spending, while half a million children have been orphaned by AIDS. The country is one of eight pilot nations for the MDGs.

The World Bank head in the country, Isaac Diwan, said calls by wealthy nations for greater policy reform were irrelevant if improved aid and greater resources were not made available.

"There is only so much that you can do if you optimise on investments of $10 or $15 per capita," he said. "It is also extremely clear in this case - it is not resources or policy - even very good policy would not go very far without enormous inflow of resources."

Awash Teklehaimanot, from the UN's Millennium Project said Africa's catastrophe largely went unnoticed.

"The death toll in Africa is staggering," said Awash who heads the task force on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria for the project.

"We need to bear in mind the silent tsunamis that are happening every day in the poorest countries, particularly in Africa," he added. "More children die of malaria every month than those who died in the tsunami. At least one million people will die this year from malaria, 500,000 women during childbirth and more than three million from HIV/AIDS."

The African Union said that the targets to halve poverty by 2015 were off track with only 10 African nations out of 53 likely to achieve half of the eight goals.

"Achieving the MDGs in Africa will be difficult and a few African countries are unlikely to meet even some of the goals," Mkwell Mkwezalamba, the head of the economic affairs commission at the 53-nation bloc, said.