Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Debate Tuesday - Can there ever be an end to poverty in Nigeria?

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With just five years remaining until the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today sounded the alarm that the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) continued to be mired in poverty.
Although school enrolment has improved and strides have been made in reducing child mortality and expanding access to clean water in the LDCs, they remain the group facing the most severe challenging in realizing the eight MDGs, Mr. Ban underlined today.

Scores of world leaders are gathering in New York for a three-day General Assembly gathering, which started yesterday, to assess progress made so far in reaching the Goals.

“The LDCs represent the poorest and most vulnerable segment of humanity,” the Secretary-General said at a side event this morning focusing on the MDGs in these countries.

“They remain at the epicentre of the developmental emergency,” he added.

Countries are classified as LDCs if they meet three criteria: a low income; human capital status based on education, nutrition, health and literacy indicators; and economic vulnerability.

Currently, more than half of the 800 million in the 49 LDCs live below the poverty line, while only six of them have poverty rates under 30 per cent.

The LDCs are also made less competitive by their inadequate transport infrastructure and uneven power supplies.

The above is news from the UN website.

It cannot be more obvious from the descriptions given that Nigeria is among the LDCs.

What concerns me today as the UN leaders continue their review is the progress in Nigeria towards eradicating poverty and hunger. The other day I read that a governor employed some graduates as assistants so they could be paid an allowance. I think such unstructured gimmicks are unsustainable.

This is from the UNDP in Nigeria: MDGs in Nigeria: Current Progress

Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
People living in relative poverty declined from 65.6 in 1996 to 54.4% in 204 while 35 out of 100 people live in extreme poverty and 30 out of 100 children are under-weight. Poverty incidence has been consistently higher in rural areas than urban areas while wide disparity occurs in poverty trend in the zones. The prospect of reducing poverty in Nigeria is bright in view of the macroeconomics stability and progressive economic growth in the last six years. Government polices at the third tiers should be focused on increased productivity in the agricultural sector. Investment in infrastructure, especially in rural areas, should be scaled up. This should be complemented with accountability and transparent governance.

Sounds all good written like that. Do you think it can be done?