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12.03.2007 General News

No Poverty In Africa by 2015

Imagine a world where there is no poverty, there is basic education for everybody, respect for human rights, equal rights and opportunities for men and women and all the goodies one can wish for.

There would be no crime, pain, hunger and anguish as seen in some parts of the world today. It will really be a pleasant place to live in.

The United Nations, perhaps, imagined these when it came up with the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015.

The Millennium Development Goals for 2015 were designed in 2000 by the United Nations and signed by 189 countries and all other member states of the European Union.

Almost half-way through the timeframe, we are unfortunately, nowhere near the envisioned results: Halving extreme poverty and hunger; ensuring access to basic education for all children; halving child mortality and deaths at child birth; a halt to AIDS and malaria; a cleaner environment, that is provision of safe drinking water for all but also especially, the development of an open, fair, non-discriminatory trade and financial system.

The last goal empowers developing countries to contribute through their own economic strength to all the other goals.

Economists say Ghana should attract the sustainable private investments needed to accelerate economic growth and lift millions of citizens out of poverty.

It has been noted that one out of three Ghanaians still live below the poverty line. Ghana may even be better economically when compared with some countries in Africa where there is mass poverty, hunger, high maternal mortality and disrespect for human rights, resulting in wars and other problems.

Africa has been described as a scar on the surface of the earth. What can be done to solve this problem and help the world achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015?

Mr John Prescott, Deputy British Prime Minister, notes that the world was now focusing on how to help Africa tackle her problems.

"Africa is of course a place of great beauty, fantastic diversity, resilient and talented people with enormous potential," he said.

"It is the only continent getting poorer and where in many places life expectancy is falling," he added.

Mr Prescott said agreements had been reached to double aid to Africa by 2010, to write off the debts of the poorest countries and to increase funding massively to tackle AIDS and improve health care and education.

"Britain is planning to spend over £8.5 billion over the next 10 years to support long-term education plans in poor countries," he said, and called on rich countries to follow suit so that by 2015 children everywhere would be able to complete at least five years of quality education.

"We look forward to realising the huge potential of a new Africa in which every person can one day be free from injustice, poverty and disease."

Apart from Britain, there are governmental and non-governmental organisations in Europe equally working to help the United Nations achieve the MDGs.

The Netherlands is one such European country that focuses on working together with developing countries to see how best to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

An organisation, "The Third Chamber", known in Dutch as “Dederdekamer”, is one such organisation that refuses to accept poverty in all forms.

It works with representatives from developing countries, finds out their problems and discusses possible ways of solving them.

The Third Chamber, for instance, makes public support for international development visible to relevant politicians in addition to making the voice of developing countries heard in political and public debates in the Netherlands.

The Third Chamber is an initiative of the Netherlands National Commission for International and Sustainable Development (NCDO), which is in charge of raising awareness and distribution of information about co-operation.

Concerned members of The Third Chamber 2007 are urgently requesting for instance, the phasing out of export subsidies for farmers in the developed countries so that developing countries can support their own farmers' harvests to be sold at reasonable prices to the people.

With imported poultry products being cheaper than what is produced in Ghana, as a result of subsidies by various countries, the public prefers to buy imported frozen chicken.

In the Netherlands, a document called the Coalition Agreement is used as a guide for the ruling government.

In the current Coalition Agreement for the new Dutch Government the ambition to abolish export subsidies is surprisingly missing even though all three coalition parties - The Christian Democratic Party (CDA), PvdA (Labour Party) and Christenunie - had it on their respective electoral platforms.

Members of The Third Chamber find the absence surprising and a great deficiency and are calling on the parties to put this into government policy.

The NCDO also works through the various Netherlands embassies in developing countries to give development aid to the people.

Africans need to be effectively involved and concerned about their own development by working hard to ensure that poverty eradication is achieved. There must also be promotion and respect for human rights and change of the attitude towards achieving the MDGs by 2015.

Ghana has been dubbed: "Gateway to Africa" so the attainment of 50 years of independence has been tagged by many people as "Africa's 50th independence anniversary".

It is no wonder that at 50 years, Ghana's President is the Chairman of African Union since Kwame Nkrumah declared that: "The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of Africa."

There is no country in Africa which is still a colony of a developed world but is Africa emancipated? Are we economically independent? The questions can roll on and on.

The United Nations and the European Union are now focusing on how to help Africa out of poverty and other problems.

The Millennium Development Goals are achievable if we contribute our quota as individuals, nations and the world.

Article by Hannah Asomaning

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