Wealth Creation can end Poverty Mar 02
Eliminating poverty is the biggest challenge
of our time as almost half the world’s population (2 billion people)
struggle for survival on less than USD2 per day. The desperately poor,
deprived of education, health, home and opportunity to work, face
starvation, disease and death each day of their short life. Such global
poverty is the mother of conflict, terrorism and migration that threaten
peace and security for the rest of us. How can we end this injustice of
poverty that violates human dignity of so many? How can we empower such
poor people to have a stake in their own local economies so that they can
engage in enterprise that produces a surplus – a surplus that will
finance their education, health and shelter?
What did Monterrey identify as the challenges
Inadequate funding as most of the affluent countries have not met
their pledge of giving 0.7% of their GNP for development assistance.
Trade barriers and subsidies, especially in agriculture, restrict
developing countries from accessing our markets.
Inadequate technical assistance in enhancing capacity building in
food production and processing industries such that poor countries do not
realize the value added for export of finished products.
Inadequate investment in rural infrastructure to allow access to
water, energy, transportation, education and health.
Failure of developing countries to establish good governance,
democracy, and law and order that can offer peace, continuity and
stability to communities.
The EU, as the largest donor in the world,
contributes Euro 25 billion per annum amounting to more than 50% of all
development assistance. In Monterrey, the EU has pledged that by 2006 its
Member States will lift their contributions to a minimum f 0.33% of their
GNP such that the average for the EU will be 0.39%. This amounts to an
increase of Eurasia 7bn over the next 4 years. The USA, unwilling to
commit a % of its GNP, contributes a meagre Euro 10bn per annum
(0.1% of GNP). It gives substantial military assistance e.g. Euro
5bn to Israel and Euro 2bn to Egypt but such aid does nothing to enrich
the life of the poor! In Monterrey, in response to international pressure,
the USA has pledged to increase its aid by Euro 5bn over the next four
years. This is a step in the right direction but far short of what the
world expects from such a rich nation that finances its prosperity on debt
that it only partly services!
The EU and the USA extend substantial
subsidies to their farmers to ensure that their rural economies are
sustained. Sadly, such subsidies in the west have encouraged intensive
farm production resulting in excess food that is dumped on the markets of
developing nations e.g. subsidized milk powder exports to Tanzania and
Jamaica have devastated the local dairy farmers. The farmers in poor
countries face declining incomes. The poor can neither grow their food
competitively nor buy the surplus from the west that floods their shops!
Asian countries e.g. China, India, Indonesia
and Bangladesh were food deficient and net importers 20 years ago. Subsidy
to their farmers, selecting appropriate seed, irrigation and other such
investment in their agriculture has transformed them to self-sufficiency
in food. They now have surpluses for export! Sadly, food production in
sub-Saharan Africa over this same period has declined as the international
investment to help their rural economies fell from Euro 14bn in 1988 to
Euro 8bn in 1998. Such a decline must be reversed to eliminate rural
poverty in Africa.
As a member of the EU Parliament delegation
to Monterrey, I was delighted to express this view strongly in all
discussions. Many participants shared my view and so I hope there will be