IN OTHER WORDS : Helping Africa

As the date rapidly approaches for a big meeting where the leaders of the rich world are supposed to come up with a plan to help lift Africa’s poor, things are starting to get interesting. Last week, Japan announced that it would double its aid to Africa. Granted, that will better Japan’s chances of getting a seat on the UN Security Council, according to Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, but so what? Money is money. Germany announced that it would meet the UN target of increasing foreign assistance to poor countries to 0.7 per cent of the gross national product by 2015. With help from the rich world, countries like Ethiopia, Mozambique and Liberia can take the route of development and progress, and finally join the rest of the world in enjoying the things that our generation has come to expect: life, liberty and the ability to get from one day to the next with shoes on your feet and food in your stomach. Without that help, those same countries can take the path that cycles back into civil war, poverty and life expectancies so low that 13-year-old girls are considered old women.

Britain announced long ago that it would meet the 0.7 per cent target by 2013. France is more than halfway there. From US — the stingiest of all — there has not been a word about getting to 0.7 per cent by any date. We hope that President Bush plans to come up with something. — The New York Times