Africa Policy Feb00 (updated Oct00)

Fighting disease & poverty in developing countries!

Aid to developing countries has failed in eradicating poverty, disease and social deprivation, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. People in these countries are poorer today than they were 30 or 40 years ago when their countries secured political independence. They have acquired the flag of freedom but lost on opportunity to work, to access basic social services and to improve their living standards.

Why have we failed to help the poor?

We neglected to promote rural development based on devolution, democracy, good governance, private enterprise, law & order, transfer of technology and self-reliance. Much of the aid, including from the EU, has been wasted in prestige projects in urban areas. The majority of people live in rural areas without access to clean water, electricity, transportation, education and health facilities. They have no stake in their village economy   no land, no home, no access to public services, no legal aid and no democratic voice in local government. Therefore, they do not feel obliged to fight corruption and uphold democracy. Such conditions breed discontent and precipitate internal conflict leading to social unrest and civil war. No wonder such people are easily recruited by gang and rebel leaders to fight, exploit, loot and rape. Corrupt governments of poor countries waste obscene sums of money on weapons of war whilst their people starve to death. Sadly, some of our governments supply the weapons and facilitate illegal trade to finance such purchases. We see the tragic consequences genocide, burnt villages, starvation and misery in refugee camps all over Africa!
 

How can the EU really help to fight poverty and disease so that these people can be self-reliant, defend their freedom and regain their self-esteem?

Democracy and civil society can only take root in rural areas, villages and towns it cannot trickle from a Presidential Palace! The EU must:-  

Encourage the transfer of technology to promote small and medium sized enterprises in rural areas to exploit natural resources to produce, harvest, store, process, pack and market products both in the domestic and export markets.

Finance development of infrastructure to ensure road, rail and air access to allow free movement of goods and services from rural to urban areas.

Establish education, vocational/technical training and health facilities using radio, TV, Information Technology and mobile units (schools, libraries, medical analytical laboratories, mother & child clinics, immunization services).

Finance legal aid centres in rural areas (e.g. in Haiti) to enable citizens to secure title deeds for their land, resolve civil disputes and challenge corrupt practices of local government.

Persuade developing countries to apply favourable fiscal measures to promote investment and residency in rural areas to help rural development and prevent young people migrating to the cities.

Establish a league table for efficient use of development aid for all developing countries so that each beneficiary country can be rated on its ability to utilise financial and technical assistance in accordance with the EU blueprint for aid.

   Plan of Action for the EU Development Assistance:-  

         Divide Africa into 5 geographic Regions:-

Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia & Sudan)

East Africa & the Lake Region (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi)

Central Africa (Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles & Mauritius)

West Africa (Anglophone & Francophone)

South Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana)

 

        Establish Regional Councils for each Region:-

There should be 2 Parliamentarians from each developing country in the Regional Council. There should be a matching number of EU Parliamentarians. The EU Parliamentarians would be invited to express preference for specialisation in a country within the Region. The Chairmanship and Rapporteurship should alternate each calendar year between the ACP and the EU.

These Regional Councils would meet once a year in a country of the Region chosen by the ACP countries in the Region with change of venue each year. The Council would observe, analyse and assess in detail development projects financed by the EU. Its Report will be published and circulated to the ACP:EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the European Commission and the appropriate European Parliament Committees.

These Councils would enable MEPs to offer expertise directly to developing countries. They will have an opportunity to exchange views with ACP Parliamentarians and Government Ministers as well as the EU Delegations in respective countries of the Region. MEPs will also be able to assess directly the implementation of EU projects in the beneficiary countries.

 

Most of these recommendations have been incorporated in the COTONU AGREEMENT between the EU and the ACP countries. This is a significant Conservative contribution to reforming the development assistance policy of the EU.