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Africa lags in global anti-poverty efforts - UN report

Africa lags in global anti-poverty efforts - UN report

Sub-Saharan Africa is lagging behind other regions in terms of global targets for halving poverty levels by the year 2015, according to a new report released today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Citing World Bank statistics, the report notes that between 1990 and 1999 the total number of the world's people living in extreme poverty fell by about 125 million, but this welcome trend has been uneven. "Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of people living in extreme poverty," the report states, adding that "the number of people in extreme poverty continues to increase."

Based on progress in the 1990s, East Asia and the Pacific is the region most likely to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. For the other regions, "concerted efforts" are needed to accelerate poverty reduction, the report states.

Examining the best way to reach this goal, the report notes that promoting gender equality in the work force and empowering women are important contributors to moving people out of poverty. It also cites anecdotal evidence regarding the usefulness of other measures, such as enhancing access to education, fostering civil society institutions, empowering communities, promoting microcredit, and protecting the environment. At the same time, the report urges further study of what works to eradicate poverty.

While hailing better prospects for halting the decline in official development assistance (ODA), the report cautions that for many developing nations and those with economies in transition, "development partners are urgently needed."

The report calls for governments to make good on the pledges made at recent UN conferences. "A genuine effort to translate the agreements produced at such gatherings into concrete action is essential if the millennium development goals are to be reached by 2015," it states. "Unless this situation changes, the lesson learned by 2015 may be that, owing to a lack of international cooperation, the goals could not be met."