EU helps alleviate poverty Feb02

I do not write what the Conservative Party or the EU wish or expect me to write – I write what I believe in on the basis of my 40 years work experience in Africa as well as my assessment of data that I analyse.

Global poverty existed long before the EU was established. Free market policies and conduct of international trade are matters for negotiation and agreement between countries as witnessed in Doha recently.

Mr. D’Sa, using emotive language of an armchair theoretician, fails to offer a single practical solution that will eliminate hunger, disease and poverty  - a solution that can be widely supported, financed and sustained. He fails to realise the simple truth: the poor need equal opportunities to be self-reliant. “Don’t give me fish, teach me how to fish” is the cry from the poor! They need help to exploit their natural resources; help to grow, harvest, store, process, package and market their produce. They need help in creating value added products yielding surpluses that will finance education, health and better shelter for their families. They do not wish to remain beggars for life, drip-fed from EU surpluses!

The EU aid policies are not perfect. They are being challenged, revised and refined to yield better results. A number of my proposals have been accepted by the ACP and form part of the new Cotonu Agreement. My proposals cover technical aid and direct investment to support rural economic development including agrarian reform, regional co-operation, transfer of technology, joint EU:ACP SME partnerships and extensive use of renewable energy, especially biogas, solar and wind. My next European Parliament Report on “Agricultural policy, agrarian reform and rural economic development for self reliance in developing countries” will consolidate my earlier proposals. My Report will be presented to Parliament in April 2002.

Migration – both North-South and South-South - is a major issue for discussion in a workshop in Cape Town (ACP:EU Joint Assembly 18-22nd March) where the EU will seek consultation, consensus and action. The affluent western countries, with smaller populations, face unlimited inflow of people from the densely populated poor countries in the east and south. Such a flow of refugees and economic migrants needs to be managed on the basis of consultation and consensus. An open door policy is neither practical nor desirable as it threatens the political stability, social cohesion and economic prosperity for all including millions of immigrants already settled in western countries. Many of these immigrants settled in the west offer substantial financial support to their families back home.

Developing countries have unlimited resources – human and natural – that need to be exploited for the benefit of their poor citizens. This effort requires a partnership of rich and poor nations to target the causes of poverty and deliver the equality of opportunity to work and live in peace. Rural investment in education, health and agriculture will give the poor a stake in their local economies. It creates a civil society that requires democratic representation, law and order. Such rural economic development yields prosperity, civic order and disables the warlords who exploit the poor and precipitate internal conflict. Millions of poor Africans are terrorised, looted, raped and killed by fellow citizens in countries like Burundi and Congo – fertile countries that could be the grain basket for the whole of Africa!

Let us reject the jargon that has beggared millions for so long. Let us apply practical policies to help establish the prosperity and peace that will free the poor to be self-sufficient. Such policies will give them an equal opportunity to work, prosper and live in peace in countries they can be proud to call their own!