Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that Canada intends to pledge three billion dollars over five years to help improve child and maternal health worldwide.
The vow kicked off what Harper hopes will be a flood of donations from developed countries to his "Muskoka Initiative," named after the Canadian region where leaders from the Group of Eight developed countries met Friday.
AdvertisementIt includes around one billion US dollars of new money, for a total of 2.75 billion US dollars.
His drive comes as the G8 faces fire for failing to meet previous aid promises and amid the looming prospect it may fail to meet a key set of development aims.
At a G8 meeting in Scotland in 2005, leaders vowed to increase development aid by 50 billion dollars by 2010, a target that has fallen 20 billion dollars short, according to development lobby group Oxfam.
The G8 is also under pressure to meet the eight so-called Millennium Development Goals, which included aims to halve the number of people living on less than one dollar a day between 1990 to 2015 and reduce maternal mortality by three quarters.
Experts say these targets are almost certain to be missed.
Shortly after greeting African leaders to the lakeside town, Harper urged his colleagues to act. "We must follow through on our initiatives and meet our commitments, he said.
"If the countries with the greatest resources will not take on the most urgent global issues, then who will?"
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