Tuesday, May 09, 2006

[Tanzania] Unemployment defies poverty alleviation initiatives

from IPP Media via Guardian


Unemployment is on the increase in defiance to world poverty alleviation initiatives, technological advancement and recorded Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth not withstanding.

Testimonies to continued unemployment to be in the offence against on-going efforts to reduce it is partly reflected by the International Labour Organization (ILO) May Day 2006 report on the looming global labour crisis.

Commending Tanzania for registering economic growth averaging between 6 and 7 percent in the past decade at this year’s May national celebrations in Shinyanga, a senior representative of the UN labour agency said unemployment was still on the increase world-wide.

’One of major challenges facing the whole world today is that of increased unemployment,’ he told an audience whose guest of honour was President Jakaya Kikwete.

It was further noted that the gloomy unemployment situation was cutting across the world irrespective of the world having made great progress in terms of technological advances and increasing GDP growth rate.

He said although there was also increase in people securing jobs ironically, there were more unemployed people today than there were at the turn of the century.

Cited cases in point included the portrayal that in the last ten years official unemployment has ’grown by more than 25 percent, standing at least not less than 192 million globally, thus leading to increased poverty.’

Of the most affected were cited to be young women and men even though they were banked upon as being any country’s greatest asset.

”In recent years increasing global unemployment has hit the young people the hardest and today’s youth are faced with high levels of economic and social uncertainty,” noted the ILO representative.

Reasons as to why young women and men faced the increasing unemployment was attributed to the base in which they find themselves in society.

’All too often their full potential is not realized because they do not have access to productive and protected jobs. HIV/AIDS is exacerbating this situation amongst the young who are also more vulnerable to infection than the older generation,’ it was noted.

This was verified by the fact that youth unemployment and underemployment pose high costs to economic and social development, perpetuating international cycle of poverty.

Such a situation was also portrayed as being the root causes of political instability, crime and drug abuse.

At the same time it was conceded, too, that today’s young people were the most educated generation ever.

They aspire to fulfil their aspirations at work and in their communities and want opportunities for personal autonomy and active citizenship.

They were also portrayed as dire need of a decent job with ILO statistics showing that on the average, young women and men are two to three more likely to be employed than adults.

Noted too was that often, they work unacceptably long hours under informal, intermittent and insecure work arrangements, characterized by low productivity, meagre earnings and reduced labour protection.

Special commendation was registered to Tanzania for aiming at creating one million jobs in five years thereby giving great hopes to thousands of young men and women.

The target was seen to be feasible and achievable and could even be exceeded if the centrality of employment to social and economic policies is reorganized.

As it were, it was revealed that many nations have done the same in the past and achieved positive results in the reduction of unemployment.

However, it was noted that some weaknesses faced by developing countries in some African countries were linked to timidity in pushing employment as a development objective despite the fact that poverty reduction, without improving poverty income, could hardly be sustained.

’We hope other African countries will now emulate Tanzania’s bold employment strategy and give less lip-service to job creation than hitherto.’ Said the ILO East Africa Director amid applause.

It was also underscored that efforts be made towards creation of better working environment for working people since hazardous, exploitative and unhealthy work environments are counter productive.

This was also seen to require strong labour unions that should protect and defend the workers rights and their welfare.

Other factors calling for redress was on the need for social protection as a basic right with ILO statistics showing that some 80 percent of the world’s working poor have little or no social protection.

It was further portrayed that with the total costs of injury, illness taken into account in calculating the true cost of production at work place, it is clear that the related economic loses may have substantial effect on productivity, hence reducing the quality of life of workers.

Therefore it was underlined that safe and healthy working conditions need to be promoted with special attention to workers in the informal economy and rural areas.

Equally important too was adherence to social dialogue is a key element for attaining consensual development goals.

As the ILO Director General said on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2004.

’Efforts to fulfil our collective commitments to fight poverty will fall short unless we focus on creating job opportunities and decent work for all’

Therefore. Productive employment is important in order to reduce poverty.

Simply having a job is not sufficient to lift women and men out of poverty.

In developing countries, many jobs are unable to ensure decent levels of income .

Successfully reducing poverty and hunger requires that the working poor find decent and productive employment.

The priority is therefore to raise the productivity of employment and labour.

Mr President Tanzania needs to be congratulated for its own economic growth achievements in the past decade averaging between 6 and 7 percent per annum.

That was a remarkable achievement, which made it to be recognized as one of Africa’s success stories in the developing process.

As you march forward with confidence into the future and project growth rates of 8 to 10 percent annum in the next five years (2005-2010) as indicated in MKUKUTA, there is a need for deep reflection on the character and pattern of growth achieved in the past and implications for the future arsing there.

Consideration of labour in the transformation of the national economy require a new reflection.

As one of the pioneers of recent development has put it (and I quote) ’Human resources, Not capital, not and, truly Constitute the Wealth of nations.’

It is the human resources that are utilized to build infrastructure of all kinds to build and run factories, to grow and distribute food to build and run schools and perform all manner of services and production.

He concludes by stating that ’a nation that cannot develop it human resources, and utilize them effectively in the world of work cannot develop anything else’.

.This perspective highlights the importance that we need to place on the development of human resources through education at all levels, but equally importantly, through skills development, off and on job relevant to the labour market needs.

Investment in human resources development can yield the desired dividends in terms of increased labour productivity, competitiveness, efficiency and increased national output.

The vindication of this later approach can be seen in the development achievement s of some Asian countries.

These are countries which, as well known, have been and are still poor in national resources but had been able to transform, develop, utilize and motivate their labour resources to attain the current great height they have achieved.

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