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11.01.2010 Business & Finance

ECOWAS To Launch Poverty Strategy Paper

By Daily Graphic
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ECOWAS will unveil its Regional Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in Accra today, in a major step towards addressing the pervasive poverty in West Africa.

The 204-page document will serve as a critical complement to national poverty reduction strategies in accelerating economic growth and reducing poverty in a region ranked among the poorest in the world and where more than 60 per cent of its 230 million citizens live on less than a dollar a day.

Implementation of the strategies, enunciated in the paper will assist the region, which lags behind in critical barometers of development, to address existing gaps in the areas of education, health, access to drinking water and infrastructure.

The launch, a joint programme of the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions, will be attended by 60 representatives of the 15-member states, mostly officials from institutions responsible for poverty reduction programmes.

Development partners active in this sector such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the UNDP, the UN, the European Union and the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK, will also be represented.

The regional strategy paper was developed in response to a directive of heads of state and government for a regional instrument that would provide a co-ordinated mechanism for overcoming the limitations of existing national strategies by Member States to enable them to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) because of the transnational nature of some of the challenges.

The paper was subsequently adopted by the leaders during their 2007 summit in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

The MDGs are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 in response to the main global development challenges and reflect the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration adopted by 189 countries in September 2000.

Under it, the countries, including ECOWAS member states, committed themselves to eradicate poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, ensure the sustainable management of natural resources, combate HIV/AIDS, malaria and other contagious diseases and develope global partnership for development.

The regional strategy seeks to refocus on poverty programmes to benefit the poor, improve the visibility and usefulness of such programmes and make them the catalyst in the fight against poverty by strengthening national and regional strategies focusing on the key sectors of macro-economics, trade and infrastructure, among others.

Like the national poverty reduction strategies, the regional strategy paper is structured to sharpen the focus on the two critical elements of economic growth and poverty reduction.

The paper is organised in three main parts, including a section that reviews the achievements of Member States in terms of growth, poverty reduction and social development, as well as the magnitude of the challenges required to meet the MDGs.

Another section reviews national and regional strategies for accelerating growth and strengthening the social sector and proposes measures for improving synergy of the two strategies.

The last section relates to the operationalisation of the strategy, particularly determination of policy priorities for addressing the challenges, the preparation and implementation of medium-term programming, macro fiscal management coordination and issues of monitoring and evaluation.

The launch will be complemented by a regional workshop on the calculation of poverty indicators to be held between January 7 and 16, also in Accra.

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