The main one is the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) which was launched in 1996 and for which a total of 38 countries, mostly in Africa, are in principle eligible.So as a matter of correction, the World Bank says that prior to the current initiatives (which were enacted in 1996), there was $80 billion in debt out there in Afican debt, not the measely $40 billion I reported last week. That changes the math from $50 per person in debt to $100, and the ratio from 7% to 14%.
To qualify, countries have to be very poor and have a very heavy debt burden.
They also have to maintain economic stability and produce a strategy for reducing poverty.
A total of 18 have reached what is called the "completion point" - the end of the HIPC process. These are the countries that will immediately benefit from the plan announced in London on 11 June.
Another nine have got to the "decision point", at which debt relief starts to kick in.
The World Bank says the total debts of these 27 countries went from $80bn to $28bn as a result of HIPC and other debt relief initiatives.
It also says that what it calls "poverty-reducing expenditure" went from 40.9% of government revenue in 1999 to 48.5% in 2003.
There are another 11 HIPC countries yet to reach their decision points. Most have had difficulties such as internal conflicts, which have prevented them doing all that is required for debt relief under the initiative.
Just trying to keep the facts straight. Not that it improves their argument very much.