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Symposium 2009

Proposal - Fighting against Poverty in the Crisis Aftermath

The Challenge

Poverty reduction has become the central objective of development policy, as reflected in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While economic growth is seen as an important ing ...

Poverty reduction has become the central objective of development policy, as reflected in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While economic growth is seen as an important ingredient in achieving sustainable poverty reduction, the emerging consensus is that growth has to be pro-poor to reach such ambitious targets as the MDGs.

In the context of Africa, I shall precede solutions to the fight against by dispelling two critical myths.

MYTH 1

a) To get rid of poverty pump in more money (reduction of poverty to the absence of economic or monetary injection). A look at Somalia or Darfur is suggestive.

GES SOLUTIONS TO MYTH 1

i) Poverty cannot be overcome in the absence of peace, security and stability

ii) It is in an atmosphere of the rule of law, respect for human rights, freedom and liberty that the fight against poverty can yield sustainable results

MYTH2

b) The fight against poverty is best waged through centralized economic planning, a One Party State or authoritarianism

GES SOLUTIONS TO MYTH 2

i) States that have chosen the path of democracy, multiparty rule and liberal economic policies have demonstrated capacity to fight poverty

ii) Entrepreneurship, free enterprise and having the private sector as the engine of growth have proven to be sustainable in the fight against poverty than state enterprises and political and bureaucratic centralized economic planning. This of course does not discount the critical role of the state.

OTHER GES SOLUTIONS

It may be added that these solutions have not offered in any order of priority.

i) Governments must ensure that, education, education, education is extended to the whole population particularly to girls and women. Literacy is not enough, vocational education also matters

ii) Encourage access to the use of simple modern technology like mobile phones and FM Radio Stations

iii) Extend micro-credit to the poor not on political basis but business improvement

iv) Government must aggressively adopt pro-poor policies like health insurance, school feeding, free education, ethnic and regional development balance etc

v) Look beyond the traditional nation state to seek inter-county solutions to say water, electricity, roads, trade etc

vi) The deepening of poverty through the negative effect of the financial crisis calls for compensation to poor countries that played no role yet had to bear the brunt

vii) Improve and modernize agricultural practices particularly in the rural areas

viii) Developed countries must make good pledges to cancel debts to foster poverty alleviation

ix) Pursue economic policies that not only add-value to primary products but aim to transform economy from agrarian to industrial

x) Actively tap the potential of the population in the diaspora to contribute in the fight against poverty

xi) Developed countries need to open up trade and market access to that of developing countries

xii) There is need for a change in mentality in poor countries that they have the primary responsibility and have to take their destiny into their own hands instead of looking up to foreign aid and external assistance as panacea to the fight against poverty.

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