A recent report by the United Nations has revealed that not a single country in sub-Saharan
According to the report, published at the midway point in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) process, the number of people living on less than one dollar a day has barely changed over the past seven years, declining less than 5 per cent to 41.1%. As much of a concern is the increasingly slow rate by which the number of people living in extreme poverty is reducing.
In line with this disappointing trend there has been little change in the number of children under five who remain hungry and underweight; a mere four per cent decrease was observed between 1990 and 2005. Over the same 15 year period, mortality rates for children under five dropped by less than three per cent and only an additional five per cent of the population have gained access to basic sanitation, leaving 37% of people without this necessity. The number of deaths from AIDS is also accelerating – a staggering two million people in 2006.
The report also highlights the impact of global warming which is already being felt throughout the region. Recent examples include the intensification of droughts and desertification in
Despite important yet limited improvements in education, healthcare and agricultural productivity in a few countries, the overall trends for poverty reduction, access to clean water and basic healthcare are continuing to plummet. The G8 leaders concur in theory that nothing could be more important than preventing the imminent deaths of millions of Africans who are being indirectly denied the right to these essential resources. Yet as the failed Gleneagles promises for increased aid to
G8 ministers managed to placate many campaigners at the end of the 2006 Gleneagles Summit with inflated promises for more aid. The conclusion of this year’s Heiligendam summit, however, has once again united civil society in its condemnation of the G8′s apparent self interest. According to the UN, the MDG to half extreme poverty will only be achieved if the current pace of aid donation is doubled. Not only is such commitment extremely unlikely, but research also shows that economic growth and international aid will never be sufficient to address poverty to any meaningful extent. The Chronic Poverty Research Centre has calculated that even if the Millennium Development Goal for poverty and hunger is achieved by 2015, 900 million people will still be living on less than one dollar a day.
According to the IMF ,
A new strategy is long overdue
The data on poverty in Africa strongly suggests that the internationalisation of market forces over the past quarter century has kept
Any economist can confirm that a market economy will increase inequality by disproportionately rewarding those with greater economic, financial or political power. Only government intervention to redistribute wealth can remedy this basic flaw, yet redistributive mechanisms are absent both in the global economy and in many African countries where economic adjustment is geared to debt repayment and not welfare, courtesy of the IMF.
The good news about economic growth rates in sub-Saharan
Any significant shift in international economic policy away from a purely market based system will inevitably be difficult to implement given the political and financial dominance of the G8 nations. However, a total lack of willingness to even accept that there may be a more efficient way to organise resource distribution is negligent in the extreme. This conservative view is likely to be expounded by those who gain most from a competitive economy, namely the strongest and fittest nations, their ministers and corporations. For these vested interests, sharing the resources which they have ownership or control over would simply mean diluting their strength, reducing their profits and curtailing their economic growth.
The decision that humanity as a whole must make is whether we are prepared to serve the needs of the majority or perpetuate a system that perverts economic democracy and dismisses any sense of common unity and morality.