More cash and effort needed to help Africa reach antipoverty goals UN

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Mark Malloch Brown painted a mixed global picture when speaking to reporters at a press conference on the final day of the 57th Annual conference of the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and NGOs, which this year was devoted to assessing progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by a 2000 summit meeting.”In large parts of the world, particularly Asia, where the largest concentration of poor people live, we are more on track than many people understand,” he said of the MDGs, which seek to rehabilitate the world’s social fabric, from slashing extreme poverty and hunger to cutting infant mortality to curbing major diseases, all by 2015.But he painted a desperate picture for Africa, where last year’s development report postponed any hope of halving poverty from 2015 to 2147. “Now this year the actual trend line is even worse and so we said we can no longer put a date on it. At the current trend poverty would never halve in Africa,” he warned.The global community cannot carry on with “current benign trends or business as usual” since a huge effort for change is needed in developing countries themselves and in donor countries supporting them, Mr. Malloch Brown said.”What we are hearing this week (from the meeting) is that sense of urgency and alarm but also the united support of civil society that is going to be a key component of the political coalition which gets us back on track,” he added.To get the world back on track requires more trade and growth and more domestic expenditure by developing countries and much will be determined by the investment decisions of India, China, Bangladesh and other very large Asian developing countries. But clearly the original additional annual bill of $50 billion to be footed by the international donor community has been overtaken.”We’re three or four years later,” Mr. Malloch Brown said. “And so today the bill is increasing, not decreasing.” But he declined to say by how much more. He stressed the importance of micro-credits in progressing towards the goals. A strong domestic private sector in developing countries starting with micro-financing, which is essential, but building up through small- and medium-size enterprises there will never be the growth and job creation needed to meet the MDGs, he warned.Jacques Attali, President of PlaNet Finance NGO, also underlined the key importance of micro-credit. Five years ago only 25 million people used micro-credits. “Now there are 60 million – a tremendous growth and a tremendous success – and we hope according to the MDGs that we can reach 200 million in the next five years,” he said. read more