UN: Ten priorities for poverty eradication

by Someshwar Singh

Geneva, July 30 -- Amb. Paolo Fulci, president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today outlined ten priorities to eradicate poverty.

Addressing a press conference, Fulci said poverty eradication was the main focus of the ECOSOC session that ends here today. As 'the major challenge facing the world in the new millennium', the UN General Assembly, in its millennium session, will have poverty as the main subject, he said.

Describing his ten strategic priorities as 'road map or blue print' for those who will take on the challenge of poverty eradication, Fulci said this was the first time that ECOSOC was 'giving policy direction,' and the first time that there was 'a total participation of the entire system of the United Nations.' Outlining the principal ideas contained in the ten strategic priorites, Fulci said he had formulated them in his personal capacity, and were not decisions of the ECOSOC, because that would have taken 'unusually long.'

1. Eradication of poverty cannot be brought about by charity, but needs first and foremost empowering the poor, focusing on women, and tapping their tremendous potential.

2. Women fall into poverty more easily and more frequently than men. They constitute majority of the people living in poverty. Ending discrimination against women and girls and promoting gender equality were critical for poverty eradication.

3. Productive employment, including self-employment, played a central role in poverty eradication. Access of the poor to land, capital and other productive resources must be improved.

4. Hunger and malnutrition were the worst manifestations of poverty. The chronically hungry cannot grow out of poverty. This is morally reprehensible and economically wasteful. Efforts should be redoubled to reduce the proportion of under/nourished by half by 2015.

5. Sufficient supply of safe water and a clean environment are necessary for life. Poverty eradication and environment protection should be mutually supportive.

6. Good health: In particular, comprehensive programmes of preventive medicine, including immunization and control of communicable diseases should be implemented. There should also be strong support and faster implementation of campaigns to tackle the social causes of diseases -- like the 'roll back malaria' initiative, and the program to fight HIV/AIDS.

7. Education is the key to development. Quality basic education, as well as secondary and higher education, vocational training, and skill acquisition throughout life are indispensable tools to eradicate poverty.

8. Social services must be developed with more social investments by governments and less military expenditures, if poverty is to be defeated.

9. Good governance and effective administration are prerequisites to effectively fight poverty. Public policy should aim at preserving social cohesion and promoting social stability, especially through democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

10. A global alliance must be forged by the entire international community, with governments, United Nations, International financial institutions, regional organisations, civil society and private sector joining hands to make poverty eradication a central goal of humanity.

The only concrete targets figuring in Fulci's strategy relate to the reduction by half by year 2015 of the number of people living in abject poverty as well as those undernourished.

With an estimated 1.3 billion in the ranks of the poor, the targets is to lift 650 million people out of ranks of 'abject poverty' - with an income of less than a dollar a day.

It has been estimated that $40 billion are needed annually to achieve the international goals related to poverty eradication. This is less than what people in Europe spend on cigarettes and one tenth of the value of world trade in illegal drugs. (SUNS4489)

The above article first appeared in the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) .

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