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POVERTY:

Working Paper No. 1 listed the following issues that could be included in the programme of action: (1) mobilizing national and international efforts to reduce poverty and promote equity; (2) monitoring poverty and assessing anti-poverty programmes; (3) providing basic social services; (4) alleviating and reducing rural poverty; (5) reducing poverty in fragile ecosystems; (6) reducing urban poverty in developing countries; and (7) strengthening social security policies and programmes.

In the discussion, Denmark and Brazil said that it was important to attack the roots of poverty, and not just the symptoms. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that the objective of the WSSD should be poverty elimination rather than poverty alleviation. India called for eradication of poverty by the end of the century. More reference should be made to measures involving the poor and a development strategy for the eradication of poverty. The elements of such a strategy would involve: food security systems; labor intensive industries; strengthening rural agriculturalization; and minimum living standards.

A number of delegates, including Switzerland and El Salvador, stressed the importance of the relationship between the consequences of structural adjustment and poverty. Another related issue mentioned by Switzerland, C“te d'Ivoire, Denmark, Brazil, Norway, the US and Australia was the importance of access to land and land reform.

Greece, on behalf of the EU, said that governments must develop macro-economic strategies at both the national and international levels to open markets and facilitate debt relief. The EU has decided that debt relief will be one of its main priorities in development aid. The other priority areas include: the provision of basic services such as education, water, health care, and housing; improving the employment of the poor; encouraging self-help activities for the urban and rural poor; fundamental democratic rights; social protection of the poor; maintenance of self-help systems; full integration of women in the fight against poverty; and the protection of fragile ecosystems.

Denmark, Brazil, the US, C“te d'Ivoire and Australia stressed the need to combat illiteracy and provide better education. Access to credit was another important issue raised by Australia, C“te d'Ivoire and Norway.

Turkey said the feminization of poverty, as well as the difficult situation of the elderly poor, and the provision of affordable housing must be mentioned. Chile also referred to the problem of the feminization of poverty and urged for concrete measures, such as the Women's Bank, and specific initiatives for child care. Norway said that to fight poverty society must also strengthen investment in people, especially women, their health, education, and access to credit and land. The one billion people now living in poverty are a result of the lack of political will to redress this problem.

Other important points raised include: provision of basic health services; access to family planning; the availability of housing; fair access to income-earning opportunities; the central importance of setting targets with indicators to measure progress; and food security. It was also mentioned that an enabling economic environment must be provided. Financial and development institutions should increase support and debt forgiveness to countries offering expanded employment. [Return to start of article]