UN poverty report suggests solutions

More than 500 million people can escape abject poverty if rich countries double development aid over the next 10 years, according to a new UN-sponsored report.

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    Some 265 experts who contributed to the plan said 250 million people would no longer suffer hunger and 30 million children could be saved if $195 billion was invested over the next decade.

    Published on Monday, the report suggests money be spent on both long-term projects and quick fixes, such as supplying mosquito bed nets and creating free school lunch programmes.

    These would enable countries to meet global goals to combat poverty, hunger and disease that all nations promised at a UN summit in 2000.
    "The goals are not utopian. They are eminently achievable," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in accepting the report from Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University professor and lead author of the survey.

    2015 objectives

    The Millennium Development Goals, agreed on by all nations in 2000, include halving extreme poverty and hunger for at least one billion people living on $1 a day, reversing the spread of Aids and malaria and providing basic education by 2015. 

    "The goals are not utopian. They are eminently achievable"

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

    The new report lays out plans for achieving those goals by setting deadlines for specific, often simple, projects that experts say have been proven to work, rather than just calling for random aid.

    They include providing fertiliser for farmers, fixing roads or eliminating school fees as well as opening markets to goods from poor countries.
    "The system is not working right now," Sachs said. "It has taken too long to figure out an approach that will work." 
    G8 meeting

    The report, Investing in Development, is to be presented to the Group of Eight countries meeting in July and to world leaders in September at the UN General Assembly, which is expected to set a global development agenda.
    Government aid from rich countries should amount to $135 billion in 2003, rising to $195 billion in 2015 or about 0.54% of these nations' GNP, about twice the current level to reach the Millennium goals, the report said.

    World leaders have agreed on 0.7% of GNP for development aid for the Millennium goals and other projects.
    But the US with its $12 trillion economy would have to raise its contributions considerably.
    Although the United States is the largest donor in the world, it contributes the smallest proportion of its GNP to development aid among 22 industrial nations.

    Washington spends some 0.16% or $25 billion and to r

    each the target of 0.7% of its GNP, it would have to

    spend $80 billion.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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