Sunday, April 30, 2006

[Laos] ...votes with eye on anti-poverty goals

from The Boston Globe

By Chawadee Nualkhair

VIENTIANE (Reuters) - Communist Laos held elections for its National Assembly on Sunday that officials hope will launch a nationwide push to lift one of Asia's poorest nations out of poverty.

Paramount among the goals facing the new assembly will be a drive to shed Laos's status as a Least Developed Country (LDC) where two-thirds of its roughly 5.8 million people still live on less than US$2 a day.

Despite being a one-horse race, Communist officials say a more diverse field of candidates aims to give greater voice to women and to minority groups in the new assembly.

A secretive, landlocked nation nestled between more developed Thailand and Vietnam, Laos has made economic gains in recent years but still faces many challenges to overcome poverty.

In the 1990s, the economy grew at an annual average rate of 6.3 percent and is forecast by the World Bank to grow 7.1 percent this year, thanks to foreign money funding mining and hydropower projects and mineral exports.

But foreign investors say Laos's legal structure is relatively untested, its infrastructure underdeveloped, and its banking system in need of reform -- factors that must be addressed if more foreign money is to pour in and people's lives improve.

"There is a realization that they are lagging behind and that it is a very risky position for the governing party," said a Western diplomat who asked not to be identified.


A one-party state since the North Vietnamese-backed Pathet Lao replaced the monarchy with a communist government in 1975, the outcome of Sunday's election is not in doubt.

But Foreign Minister Somsavat Lengsavat told Reuters it would be wrong to dismiss the assembly as a "rubber stamp" body simply because there was only one party.

"(Outsiders) judge the democratic system according to the Western democratic system," he said.

The government says the next 115-seat assembly will be more diverse and boast members with higher levels of education. Out of 175 candidates, 40 are women and 42 hail from minority ethnic groups such as the Hmong.

Officials hope women will make up at least 30 percent of the assembly, up from a previous 23 percent. Preliminary vote results are expected in 4-5 days.

"We have been very conscious of this imbalance in gender. That is why now in all fields of society we are trying to rectify that," said Yong Chanhthalansy, director-general of the Press Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is one measure that has found favor among voters.

"I'm excited to vote this time because I will be voting for women candidates," said a drug store vendor who asked not to be identified. "Before, it was men all the time."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

[Indiana] Poverty summit gets to work

from The Nortwest Indiana Times

NORTH TOWNSHIP: Service providers may share client information


HIGHLAND | Representatives of faith-based organizations rolled up their collective sleeves Friday during a workshop at Wicker Park hosted by North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan.

It was the group's second meeting since Mrvan launched an effort in January to coordinate efforts by his office and religious groups to better serve the poor and those facing emergency hardships.

At the time, Mrvan asked for historical barriers to be let down and independent action to be set aside in favor of operating under one umbrella. Some 36 church leaders attended that initial meeting where they were invited to acquaint themselves with not only the township's services but each other's.

On Friday, a mix of about a dozen church leaders and social service agencies got down to some real nuts-and-bolts by considering the adoption of common referral forms and consent waivers. Samples were developed by Dean Johnson of the trustee's office. Johnson also created a North Township Service Providers Directory, a nearly inch-thick comprehensive listing of service providers for potential distribution to the group.

Johnson said the trustee's office routinely uses such forms but many churches don't, resulting in some clients being able to go from church to church making the same request for aid.

Johnson suggested the adoption of "universal" referral and consent forms to help the churches and the trustee "get a handle" on such clients.

Mrvan said better tracking helps reduce fraud, but even more so prevents duplicating services, which opens up resources for more clients.

The group also discussed other measures such as encouraging churches to "adopt" a single family, in effect becoming its case manager. Clients would be assisted with not only immediate emergencies, such as a utility shut-off, but longer-term aids, such as learning how to develop and stick to budgets.

In compiling the service providers directory, Johnson said he had been "shocked" at learning the wide array of services offered by the area's social service agencies and churches.

Among them is a local chapter of the nationwide Love INC (for In the Name of Christ). That group not only helps with rent, utilities, gas, meals and medication, but serves as a clearinghouse for many of the area's churches. Currently available only by phone, the group is in the process of opening a storefront office.

Friday, April 28, 2006

[Burundi] Two million face hunger in Burundi: aid group

from SABC News

About two million people face hunger in drought-hit Burundi, aid group ActionAid said on Tuesday as it began food deliveries in the central African country.

Hundreds of people and tens of thousands of livestock in east and central Africa have died in one of the worst droughts to hit the region in years. ActionAid said poor rainfall over the past six years in the north, northeastern and central provinces have brought starvation to areas traditionally regarded as Burundi's food basket, with crops of maize and sorghum failing.

"In the countryside, many families are picking and cooking wild leaves in an attempt to satisfy their hunger," ActionAid said in a statement. Chronic poverty and 12 years of civil war, in which more than 300 000 people have been killed and many displaced, have compounded the effects of poor rainfall, the group added.

70 tonnes of food delivered
The anti-poverty organisation said it delivered 70 tonnes of food worth $35 800 last week to one of five provinces the government has declared to be in a state of famine.

It said malnutrition in the country of seven million people was widespread and hundreds are believed to have died. Diseases such as malaria were on the increase. Millions across the region are in urgent need of assistance, the United Nations says, with Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia taking the brunt of the drought.

Other agencies such as the UN World Food Programme have distributed food aid in Burundi. An estimated $75 million of aid is still needed for the country, ActionAid said.

[Australia] Mozzies put bite on malaria

from the Sydney Morning Herald

MANY mosquitoes seem to kill naturally the malaria parasites they ingest, so it may be possible to exploit that genetic trait to fight malaria, a study says.

Researchers have long dreamed of inserting an anti-malaria gene into mosquitoes, but this study suggests for the first time that this may be unnecessary because "most mosquitoes are malaria-resistant, and the susceptible ones are the oddballs", said Kenneth Vernick, a microbiologist at the University of Minnesota and the lead author.

The study, published in the journal Science yesterday, was a "major step forward" in understanding mosquito genetics, said Allan Schapira, a co-ordinator of the World Health Organisation's malaria program.

The discovery changes the terrain in the war on malaria, which kills more than 1 million people a year, most of them children and pregnant women. On this shifting battlefield, mutating parasites and mosquitoes eventually outwit each ingenious new drug or pesticide created to destroy them.

Natural resistance in mosquitoes to the Plasmodium falciparum parasite is good news for malaria researchers because it is theoretically easier to bolster an existing gene than to implant one from another species.

However, even if a better mosquito could be bred in a laboratory, the idea of releasing manipulated bugs into the wild to hunt human blood would be fraught with political perils.

After lobbying by environmental groups, some African countries now refuse food aid containing genetically modified corn and are sceptical of genetically modified seeds that may confer drought resistance.

As an alternative, Dr Vernick suggested that a soil fungus that devoured insects, whose mosquito-killing powers were described by British scientists last year, could be used to hunt down the most malaria-susceptible bugs in any swarm and knock them out of the gene pool.

Dr Schapira said the idea was "interesting" but cautioned that years of testing would be needed to see if it was practical and safe.

The fungus, Beauveria bassiana, is harmless to humans and approved for use on aphids. It grows in insects that land on surfaces on which it has been sprayed.

[UK] Church agency backs criticism of UK on world poverty

from Ekklesia

UK-based international development agency Christian Aid today applauded a new parliamentary report that blamed the British government for breaking its promises by continuing to force poor countries to liberalise their economies.

The UK stands accused of backtracking on pledges made last year to stop forcing poor countries to liberalise trade through trade negotiations. Britain has supported the European Union in it’s hard line negotiating stance with developing countries in the World Trade Organisation.

Dr Claire Melamed, Christian Aid’s head of trade policy, said that the WTO, which had been discussing a new trade round, had missed another deadline because of the EU’s refusal to make concessions to poor countries without first demanding harsh conditions in return.

“Peter Mandelson is refusing to make any changes to the scandalous agricultural subsidy regime unless developing countries throw open their industrial and services sectors, effectively ending any possibility of development in those sectors. And now we know from the International Development Committee’s report that the UK must bear some of the blame for this failure.

“Despite all its pro-development rhetoric, the Committee accuses the UK government of not standing up to Commissioner Mandelson and insisting that the EU do what it must to make the ‘development round’ a reality. Instead, they are allowing the EU to hold the talks hostage.

“The UK government is dining out in London on the kudos of apparently opposing the EU’s indefensible position, while still supping with Mandelson in Brussels,” she said.

“The millions of poor people whose fate rest on decisions made in the WTO might think they have friend in the UK government, but this report has shown otherwise. It is time for the UK to make its rhetoric a reality and stand up to Mandelson. The EU must agree to reform its agricultural policies, without demanding that developing countries destroy their own economies in return,” concluded Christain Aid's Dr Melamed.

[Jamaica] Survey shows poverty decline

from The Jamaica Observer

THE 2005 Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions, tabled in Parliament yesterday by Finance Minister Omar Davies, showed that poverty declined last year, when compared to the previous year.

The survey, a joint publication by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), said "the incidence of poverty declined by 2.1 percentage points to 14.8 per cent" over the 2004 figure.

According to the survey, between 1995 and 2005 the poverty level declined by nearly half (12.7) from 27.5 per cent. This has not been a steady fall, however, since there was a 2.8 percentage increase between 1998 and 2000, and 2001 and 2002. Since that time, however, lower poverty levels have been recorded, the document said.

The study showed that the decline was greatest within the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) - Kingston and St Andrew, Portmore and Spanish Town. The 2005 figure for the KMA was 9.6 per cent, 4.7 percentage points less than the corresponding period, while other towns fell by 0.6 percentage points and rural areas by 0.1 percentage points to 7.2 per cent and 21.1 per cent, respectively.

[Angola] Premier Reiterates Commitment to Poverty Reduction

from All Africa


Angola's Prime Minister Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, on Thursday reiterated the Government engagement in reducing to half until 2015 the current percentage of people whose daily income is below one dollar.

Fernando da Piedade made this announcement in Luanda, at the opening of colloquy on employment in Angola, an initiative of the Ministry of Public Administration, Employment and Social Security (MAPESS).

According to the Angolan Premier, in order to reach this goal, it is necessary to outline mechanisms and policies that boost the activities of the sector, through the creation of jobs, throughout the country.

Thus, he wishes that this event helps finding the solutions of the obstacles that hinder the better use of Angolan staff, as well as the proposals for the creation of incentives for the professional and geographic mobility of human resources to every province of the country.

He also called for contributions towards the review of issues that help the increase of jobs and reduction of poverty and inequality, namely salary, labour security conditions, the access to unemployment subsidies and social protection.

[UK] Poverty twice as likely to persist across generations, shows new JRF research

from First Rung

Poverty twice as likely to persist across generations, shows new JRF (Joseph Rowntree) research. A conference at the London School of Economics and a new JRF publication will demonstrate clearly the strong link between childhood poverty and its continuing persistence across adulthood.

This is the first time that nationally representative research has revealed how people who grew up poor suffer continued poverty into middle age, and how this trend is worsening. While children in poverty are currently the focus of so much attention, this report examines the experiences of today's adults to assess the impact of not tackling childhood poverty.

The research reveals how the increased likelihood of poverty in their early 30s for poor teenagers compared to non-poor teenagers in the 1980s was twice as strong as it was for those from the 1970s. It also shows how the impact of being poor as teenagers continues to affect individuals as they grow into middle age.

The report shows that ending income poverty will not address the problem of persistent poverty alone. Report author Jo Blanden said:

"Our research shows that there is no quick fix to ending these enduring patterns of poverty across generations. It highlights the importance of the policy agenda to reduce child poverty and disadvantage but also show that this cannot be done through income transfers alone."

[Canada] The colour of Canadian poverty

from The Toronto Star

The surprising thing about Grace-Edward Galabuzi, author of a new book entitled Canada's Economic Apartheid: The Social Exclusion of Racialized Groups in the New Century, is that he is a gentle, scholarly man.

He uses facts, not polemics, to make his case. He acknowledges that Canada has been good to him since he fled Uganda at gunpoint in 1982. There is nothing angry or strident about him.

But passion is not measured in decibels. And Galabuzi is nothing if not passionate about resisting the formation of a non-white underclass in his adopted home.

The Ryerson University professor admits he chose the title for his book partly to jolt Canadians out of their complacency. But he does see real and disturbing parallels between the racial stratification of South Africa from 1950 to 1994 and what is going on in urban Canada — especially Toronto — today.

He is not accusing individual Canadians of racism, Galabuzi emphasizes. He is asking them to look at the way their labour markets and power structures systematically relegate people of colour to the lower ranks. He is asking them to explain why poverty is disproportionately concentrated among blacks and south Asians. He is asking them to face the fact that Toronto is becoming an increasingly segregated city, with non-whites living in its least desirable neighbourhoods.

"These trends are becoming institutionalized. Not by fiat, not by the state, this is not South Africa and it never will be. But when you look at what's going on in Canada's urban centres, an underclass is starting to emerge and it's very clearly racially defined."

He cites a 2003 Statistics Canada study, which showed that poverty was much more prevalent in Toronto's racial enclaves than in the rest of the city. In areas where more than 30 per cent of the population was Chinese, the low-income rate was 28.4 per cent. Where South Asians predominated, it was 28.3 per cent. Where blacks were dominant, it was 48.5 per cent. (The citywide rate was 22.6 per cent).

The same pattern was evident in unemployment rates. In Chinese enclaves, the incidence of joblessness was 11.2 per cent. In South Asian enclaves, it was 13.1 per cent. In black enclaves, it was 18.3 per cent (the citywide rate was 8.6 per cent.)

All three racial groups were over-represented in low-wage, precarious jobs such as sewing-machine operator, electronics assembler and taxi driver and under-represented in management, the professions and supervisory roles.

This combination of factors — low incomes, high unemployment, jobs that don't pay enough to pull families out of poverty and kids who see no prospect of a better life — can easily give rise to anger and violence, Galabuzi says.

"You're starting to see a dramatic increase in incarceration rates in these communities," he warns. "We're looking at real trouble down the road."

He rejects the comforting explanations that Canadians frequently offer for racial polarization.

It can no longer be attributed to differences in education, he points out. Visible minorities — thanks to Canada's highly selective immigration system — have a higher rate of post-secondary training than the rest of the population.

Nor does the old time-lag argument hold up. It is not just recent immigrants who are struggling to get a foothold on the economic ladder. Non-white citizens who have been in Canada for decades are stuck on the bottom rung. What's worse, their children are dropping out of school in disproportionate numbers, locking in a destructive intergenerational cycle.

"There will always be individuals who buck the trend," Galabuzi says, anticipating objections. "But as a group, they're doing poorly."

He does see a few hopeful signals.

The city is targeting resources at 13 troubled neighbourhoods before they become racial ghettos.

The labour movement is organizing Toronto's hotel workers, who are overwhelmingly Filipino and Caribbean. They are hired for "back-of-the-house" jobs — housekeeping, maintenance, food preparation, dishwashing — that pay $10 to $12 an hour and are let go when their bodies wear out.

And the non-profit sector is highlighting the racial dimension of poverty. The United Way of Greater Toronto took the lead, with its groundbreaking 2004 report Poverty by Postal Code.

Promising as these developments are, Galabuzi says, they are not enough.

Ontario needs an employment equity law that is effective and enforced. The province did adopt an Employment Equity Act in 1993. But former premier Mike Harris repealed it two years later and the governing Liberals have made no attempt to replace it.

Galabuzi is aware that legislating equality of opportunity in the workplace is controversial. But he contends that employers who discriminate on the basis of race — "blacks wouldn't fit in here, aboriginals are unreliable, ethnics aren't team players" — should at least be held to account.

He also believes Canada's political parties and public institutions have to do a better job of turning multiculturalism from a feel-good catchphrase into a visible, measurable reality.

Canadians are fair-minded, tolerant people, Galabuzi says. But the society they've built does not reflect that.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

[Angelina Jolie] in political appeal over child poverty

from The Irish Examiner

Outspoken actress Angelina Jolie has stepped into the political arena again, urging First Lady Laura Bush to push the American President to do more to provide poverty-stricken children around the globe with an education.

The Hollywood star, who yesterday gave her backing to a Gordon Brown premiership while heaping praised on the Chancellor, pointed out that Britain gives three times more cash to such programmes than the US.

A giggling Jolie told NBC’s Ann Curry her uncontrollable mirth was a hormonal result of her pregnancy with actor Brad Pitt’s baby.

The couple are currently in Namibia with their two adopted children, ahead of the birth. They have been named “the world’s most beautiful family” by People magazine.

“We just don’t know where it’s going to happen or where it’s going to be,” Jolie said.

Asked if there was a doctor nearby, she replied: “We’ve been smart about it. Things will be as they will be. I’m ready for anything.”

Reports had suggested the baby was due next week but Jolie also told Curry she was in fact not quite eight months pregnant.

Jolie conceded that the US did spend a considerable amount of money to ensure that poor people get an education.

But she added: “Britain gives three times more than us right now. They’re not richer than us, so I don’t know what the great excuse is.”

Told that her zeal for the campaign – she is a spokeswoman for Global Education Week – was reminiscent of Mrs Bush’s, Jolie laughed.

But the star who is one half of one of the world’s most famous couples had a message for another woman whose partnership puts her into the spotlight: “She should nudge her husband.”

She also said it was wrong for Americans to focus only on solving problems at home.

“It doesn’t make any sense just to fix your own house when your neighbours are falling into chaos,” she added.

Jolie said she believed her two adopted children, Maddox, four, from Cambodia, and one-year-old Zahara, from Ethiopia, would not have had an education in their homelands.

Maddox would probably have ended up on his own – garbage picking on the streets, she said.

On her giggling, she said: “I get hysterical now. It will go on for hours... It’s hormonal.”

[California] Stanford, UC tackling global poverty issues

from The SF Gate

Stanford University and UC Berkeley have joined a trend among the nation's elite universities and are developing centers dedicated to fighting poverty worldwide as economic inequalities grow ever starker.

Both are fledgling efforts aimed at marshalling their respective academic forces to work across disciplines -- from engineering to sociology to the biological sciences -- to tackle some of the most vexing and enduring problems facing humanity. A few universities, such as Harvard, have established track records in this arena, but a number of academics believe the trend is accelerating among major universities.

Stanford sociology Professor David Grusky said a center was overdue at Stanford.

"There's an understanding at the highest levels that poverty and inequality can't be seen anymore as just ethical problems but rather as problems that have wide-reaching ramifications for society," he said. "If we care about terrorism and ethnic unrest or health problems poor people face -- there are real social costs that poverty and inequality imply -- you ignore poverty and inequality at your peril."

Although both centers are focused on world poverty, they have different missions.

The Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality at Stanford will concentrate on producing research and influencing national and international policy debates on poverty. The Richard C. Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley will primarily focus on sending students and faculty into poorer nations to solve problems on the ground.

There are other differences, too. While Stanford's center has an initial annual budget of $125,000 for five years and envisions a fundraising drive, Cal's effort is being started with a $15 million gift from UC Regent Richard Blum, a wealthy investor and husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

"One of the biggest benefits is that if we are putting 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 students abroad with an experience like this ... then lives will be transformed," said Richard Lyons, executive associate dean at the Haas School of Business, who is helping to develop Berkeley's center. "We've set these students on a different course -- their perspective on poverty, and their potential role in the poverty challenge will be forever changed."

It's part of a growing national trend.

Northwestern University and the University of Chicago have been running the Joint Center for Poverty Research since late 1996. Harvard established the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy a couple of years later.

In 2002, the University of Michigan created the National Poverty Center, which is largely funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill started the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, with John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator as director, and Princeton University started the Global Network on Inequality.

There is no single reason behind the centers. Some, like Lyons, point to the growing disparity between countries undergoing economic booms such as China and "places in the world that have been left behind" such as Africa. Laura Hogshead, assistant director of the poverty center at North Carolina, said universities are often a reflection of what's happening in the world and speculated that people are increasingly aware of inequalities, in part because they see them more clearly in their own lives.

"The research has shown that the middle class is more insecure than ever," she said. "It's an issue touching a lot of Americans and a lot of the world. ... You can have an education and work hard, and you still might not get ahead."

But what kind of impact can universities, which are often so removed from poverty, have on the debate?

Universities can analyze the statistics that nonprofits collect in the field and help shape how those on the ground respond to a complex issue, said Thomas Reynolds, a regional director for CARE, which has the goal of eradicating poverty and creating social justice for poor people around the world. Others note that much of the world doesn't have the luxury of studying the complex causes behind poverty.

"We always talk about how the world's toughest problems require the most creative solutions," said Jeremy Barnicle, communications director for Mercy Corps in Portland, Ore. "We as a humanitarian-aid group are really trying to make closer connections with academic institutions precisely because they can bring so much value."

Stanford, one of the richest universities in the world with consolidated net assets of $16.9 billion, has a history of helping countries maximize their gross national products with its powerful economics department, Grusky said. He says he envisions modeling the university's new poverty center after the influential National Bureau of Economic Research.

"Stanford University seeks to develop an authoritative institution on matters of distribution, just as NBER serves that function on matters of total economic output and how to maximize it," Grusky wrote in the center's white paper.

Capitalism, he said, has been immensely successful in generating high-GNP societies, but one side effect has been "massive inequality (that) can be debilitating unto itself." Even if someone doesn't have moral concerns about poverty, the well-being of the poor affects society's well-being, he said. Workers with inadequate health care, for example, aren't as productive and don't contribute to the GNP.

The Stanford center wants to produce a book series titled "Controversies in Inequality," as well as a Web and print magazine directed at policymakers. Like many major universities, Stanford wants to foster more collaboration among disciplines to address some of the world's most pressing problems.

Many faculty members already are working on poverty issues, such as one professor examining the extreme income inequality in China and whether that nation's new rich also hold high-level political positions. Grusky just finished research that he said debunked the notion that had society known about the extent of New Orleans' poverty before Hurricane Katrina, it would have been addressed.

UC Berkeley's center earlier this month sent a request for proposals to all professors seeking project ideas. The university will choose several projects to execute over the next three to four years, Lyons said.

Although the center's primary push will be putting students in the field, the center also plans to offer courses in the fall, and eventually either a certificate, minor or major in developing economies.

Poverty and inequality have always plagued the world, but that doesn't mean universities can't develop new ways of solving the problems, said Stanford's Grusky.

"It's time again to think in ways that are utopian ... and imagine systems that are different from the ones we have, the ones we see."

[Comment] Pondering whether the poor will always be with us

from The Bangor News

Will the poor always be with us, as the Bible says? Can we act to give the millions of American families now in poverty a realistic hope of future prosperity?

For 30 years, poverty in the United States has stubbornly refused to fall. The poverty rate - the percentage of all Americans living in families with incomes below the poverty line - fell from 22 percent in 1959 to 11 percent in 1973. But after 1973, poverty stopped declining. The current rate is 13 percent, and 37 million Americans are now living in poverty.

How is the poverty line calculated? Each year the government estimates the minimum incomes needed by families of all sizes to provide the most basic nutritional needs as well as nonfood needs. For example, in 2005 for a family of two adults and two children the poverty-level income was $19,806; families with lower incomes were considered poor.

Poverty rates are highest for people living in the South, for those under age 18 and for blacks and Hispanics.

In 2004 the poverty rates for Hispanics and blacks were 22 percent and 25 percent, well above the national average.

In Maine the statewide poverty rate is around 12 to 13 percent. Washington County at 16 percent has the highest rate in the state, while Penobscot County is near the state average.

Though most poor families own televisions and microwave ovens, many families in poverty suffer from inadequate nutrition, substandard housing and a feeling of hopelessness about the future. Poverty rates for people over 65 have actually fallen steadily, from 35 percent in 1959 to 10 percent in 2004. Our failure to reduce poverty rates, then, is confined to people under 65.

What are the causes of the stubborn persistence of poverty among the non-elderly? Though research has not yet completely answered this critical question, some important causes have been identified.

One major culprit is the well-documented growth in wage and income inequality. A 2006 study by Hilary Hoynes and two colleagues confirms that when wage inequality increases, poverty grows. Wage inequality, in turn, results partly from a decline in the demand for workers of low skills and little, or low-quality, education.

Changes in the makeup of families also help explain the persistence of poverty. Hoynes and her colleagues found that between 1967 and 2003, families consisting of single women with children - the family type with the highest poverty rate - grew from 6 to 12 percent of all families. Meanwhile, families consisting of married couples with children - a family type with a low poverty rate - fell from two-thirds of all families to fewer than half! So there was a big increase in the number of families with the highest poverty rate, and a relative decline in the number of families with a low poverty rate.

Despite these trends, however, overall poverty rates did not increase between 1967 and 2003. This was because for each of the family types poverty rates fell during these years. This aspect of poverty trends gives us grounds for hope.

A person's surroundings also influence powerfully his or her chances of overcoming poverty. You are more likely to be poor if many of your neighbors are unemployed; are becoming mothers at an early age; and have little respect for people who work hard for a living. Your children are more likely to be poor if local schools are terrible.

Though our understanding of poverty remains incomplete, it is clear that some social programs can reduce it.

First, the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit program, which provides an earnings subsidy to families with at least one worker, has undoubtedly alleviated poverty. For a family with two or more children and earnings of $11,000, the subsidy payment is $4400. The EITC encourages employment, because people who do not work are not eligible for the subsidy; research confirms that this incentive is effective. The EITC program should be expanded by making the earnings subsidy more generous.

Better education would raise the job skills of low-wage workers. Higher pay for teachers would attract more exceptionally talented college graduates to the profession and raise the quality of teaching. Students' learning can be increased by lengthening the school year, reducing class sizes, and reducing high school dropout rates.

Finally, preschool programs for poor children should be expanded. Children who attended Michigan's Perry Preschool later earned high scores on achievement tests and enjoyed high earnings and employment rates. The federal government's Head Start program also has helped improve children's' life prospects.

The cost of implementing this agenda would be considerable, but that should not cause us to hesitate. A partial reversal of the Bush administration's tax cuts for the wealthy - cuts that are helping thousands of our least-poor citizens - would finance most of the improvements discussed.

We may never eliminate poverty completely, but we surely can reduce it dramatically. If we don't try, we will violate the admonitions of all religions to help the least fortunate among us.

Edwin Dean, a seasonal resident of Vinalhaven, writes monthly about economic issues

[Free Trade] Latin American leftists plan "people's" trade deal

from Reuters

By Carlos Quiroga

LA PAZ, Bolivia, April 26 (Reuters) - The presidents of Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela plan to sign a "People's Trade Treaty" to counter free-trade deals Washington is seeking with some Latin American countries, Bolivian officials said on Wednesday.

The announcement came hours after Bolivia's economy minister said the country might withdraw from the Andean trade bloc, or CAN, if fellow members Peru, Colombia and Ecuador forged ahead with U.S. free-trade deals.

Bolivia's warning followed a similar threat days ago by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who announced his country would pull out of the bloc to protest the trade accords Colombia and Peru hammered out with the United States.

Chavez, a close ally of communist Cuba, considers the Washington-led free-trade agreements a bid by the Bush administration to cement U.S. economic domination of Latin America. His message has resonated in a region where free-market policies have failed to alleviate chronic poverty.

Bolivian Planning Minister Carlos Villegas said President Evo Morales would travel to Havana for a weekend meeting with Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro to formalize what he called the "People's Trade Treaty."

"On Friday, we will define products, amounts and other characteristics," Villegas told reporters. The leaders are expected to meet a day later.

The pact among the three countries would be an extension of a regional trade integration plan touted by Chavez as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, named after South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

The largely symbolic grouping now consists of Venezuela and Cuba, which has turned to Venezuela for oil supplies to help its cash-starved economy. Chavez has heralded the alliance as a socialist option to U.S. trade policies.

The Venezuelan leader describes ALBA as based on complementary trade and cooperation and not free-market competition.

But officials in La Paz said they were hoping for increased trade, adding Venezuela had committed to buying large amounts of Bolivian soy, the country's biggest export.


Late on Tuesday, Bolivian Economy Minister Luis Arce told Reuters that Bolivia could withdraw from the Andean Community bloc if Peru, Colombia and Ecuador did not end their pursuit of free-trade deals with the United States.

"If these agreements with the United States prosper, there's no longer a need for the Andean Community. We cannot talk about a process of integration," Arce said in Quito, Ecuador.

Colombia and Peru have reached free-trade agreements with the United States, saying they are vital for their economies. The agreements require congressional approval in each country. In Ecuador, street protests have flared in recent weeks over the government's negotiations with Washington.

Chavez, who accuses Washington of trying to oust him, said this week that Venezuela would reconsider its withdrawal if Colombia and Peru pulled out of the free-trade deals.

On Wednesday, Chavez said he was backing Peruvian nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala to win Peru's presidency in an upcoming runoff and end the U.S. trade deal he says forced a "divorce" in the regional bloc of Andean nations.

Washington accuses Chavez of using the oil wealth of the world's fifth-largest crude exporter to destabilize the region by spreading an anti-democratic message and backing anti-U.S. movements. Chavez dismisses such talk as propaganda aimed at undermining his government. (Additional reporting by Antonio de la Jara in Quito)

[Angola] Japan invests USD $2 Million to fight malaria

from African News Dimension

Japan hands over the various equipment to fight malaria, estimated at USD 2 million as part of the African Day of Fight Against Malaria celebrated on April 25.

In a note delivered to ANGOP, the health department refers that the donation includes anti- malaria medicine, microscope, and apparatus for fast tests of diagnosis, mosquito nets, vehicles and computers.

The Japanese Ambassador to Angola and the Health Minister, Sebastião Veloso, are expected in Benguela province in order to hand over the donation.

Still on the same day, Minister Sebastião Veloso will announce in Benguela the implementation of the new malaria treatment policy, based on the use of therapeutic combinations of artemisinine derivatives.

[Australia] Overseas aid to double within 4 years

from The Age

By Brendan Nicholson, Canberra

AUSTRALIA will significantly increase its foreign aid spending, with a strong focus on improving education in the region, eliminating corruption, cutting death rates for mothers and young children, reducing poverty and generating economic growth.

The white paper released yesterday maps out how aid funding will double to about $4 billion a year by 2010.

It includes a big emphasis on education, with 19,000 scholarships, double the present number and costing $1.4 billion, to be offered to students from Asia and the Pacific over the next five years.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer recalled "the great Colombo Plan" under which a generation of the region's leaders were educated in Australia.

"The benefits of this investment are simply incalculable," Mr Downer said.

"Not only will many more of the region's future leaders learn their skills in Australia, but they will also develop a warm affection for Australia," the Foreign Minister said.

Australia will also spearhead efforts to control AIDS and roll back malaria.

Tim Costello, co-chairman of the Make Poverty History coalition, said that even with the significant increase, Australia would still be only 18th on the list of 22 OECD donor countries.

But Mr Costello said the paper provided an improved framework for alleviating poverty in the region and could greatly improve the effectiveness of Australia's aid program.

A key element of the new aid plan is an end of the system in which Australian aid has been "tied" — meaning it could only be spent with Australian-based companies.

Mr Downer said the change would allow foreign companies to bid for work in programs funded by Australian aid and would mean greater competition and value for money.

He said the strong anti-corruption push would continue, with measures built into all aid activities. "We will reinforce our existing efforts in governance by supporting better leadership in the Pacific and by helping local populations demand better government."

Australia would increase its assistance in line with the efforts of governments to strengthen governance, tackle corruption and better harness their own resources, Mr Downer said.

Opposition aid spokesman Bob Sercombe said the Government had adopted Labor policy in untying the aid.

Mr Sercombe said the paper provided an opportunity to draw a line under the Government's many mistakes in aid policy over the past 10 years.

Greens senator Bob Brown said the package outlined in the white paper was not enough.

"The greatest long-term contribution to global security and fighting terrorism would be better sharing of the developed world's gluttonous wealth," Senator Brown said. "People dying of malaria, AIDS and pneumonia are in more need of adequate medical care than they are of governance."


HOW MUCH Aid doubles to about $4 billion a year by 2010, rising from 0.25 per cent of gross national income to 0.36 per cent.

THE TARGETS 700 million people in the Asia-Pacific region living on less than $1 a day and 1.9 billion on under $2.

AIDS 8.2 million people are HIV positive.

MOTHERS In six of the region's poorest countries, women are more than 50 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than Australian women.

INFANTS In Cambodia 10 per cent of babies die before reaching the age of one.

EDUCATION In Papua New Guinea half the children have less than six years' schooling.

[North Carolina] Children in poverty on rise in WNC

from The Asheville Citizen Times

More children are living in poverty across the state, according to a new report from Action for Children North Carolina.

In Western North Carolina, every county but Swain showed an increase in child poverty since 2ooo.

Action for Children, formerly the N.C. Child Advocacy Institute, issues its Children’s Index every other year, reporting on indicators of child well-being such as child health and safety, early care and education, child maltreatment, juvenile justice and demographics.

The report, released today, shows rising numbers of children in poverty, children without health insurance and children who are waiting for child care subsidies.

One in nine of North Carolina’s children has no health insurance, the report found.

“If we’re not already in a crisis, we’re certainly teetering on the edge,” said Melissa Fridlin of Working Families Win, an advocacy organization for economic security for working families. “A lot of people who have had access to quality health care are having to sacrifice it because of the cost, and that affects kids.”

New jobs, fewer benefits

Across the state, family income has dropped, according to the report, and the high-paying manufacturing jobs that have left the state are being replaced with jobs that don’t offer health insurance.

The state has Medicaid and Health Choice, an insurance program for low-income children, and the vast majority of North Carolina’s children are reported to be in good health — some 85 percent.

About 60 percent of the state’s children visit both a doctor and dentist each year and 47 percent have a regular doctor or nurse whom they see for health problems.

The lack of access to health care is the most disturbing statistic, but the lack of quality child care runs a close second, said Bill Jamieson, chairman of the board of Action for Children.

“People cannot dig themselves out of economic troubles without a safe place to leave their children,” he said.

Child care subsidies serve a monthly average of 96,000 children younger than 12, but 37,000 low-income children are waiting for subsidies.

“People have to make horrible choices,” said Elizabeth Hudgins, director of policy and research for Action for Children.

“The problem is that things aren’t improving,” said Fran Thigpen, director of the Buncombe County Child Development Commission. “If things don’t change, we’re looking at less money next year, and when there are fewer choices, desperate parents make bad choices.”

In the seven westernmost counties, the cut is likely to total more than $1 million, said Sheila Hoyle, director of the Southwestern Child Development Commission.

“Already, parents are quitting jobs or school,” she said. “The choice of lower-cost child care just isn’t there. There’s a safety issue here.”

Child advocates also are lobbying for an increase in the state’s minimum wage, from $5.15 an hour to $6 or more.

“I think a number of things have to happen at the state and federal levels to ensure the financial well-being of families,” Thigpen said. “It can feel overwhelming. You have to look at it one step at a time, and living wage is a start. Taking care of children and families should be a moral imperative for us.”

A ‘bright spot’

Rebecca Folmar, director of communications for Action for Children, noted there is “a bright spot. We found more stability in the foster care system.”

The study found that 91.9 percent of children in foster care had two or fewer placements in the last year. In 2001, more than 60 percent of abused and neglected children removed from their homes bounced around to three or more foster care placements in one year.

The improvement was accomplished by increased state funding for foster care and adoption assistance and for hiring more workers, the reports says.

“This shows we can accomplish something if we want to,” said Jamieson, the Action for Children board chairman. “We just have to want to do it.”

Becky Kessel, social work program director of Buncombe County Department of Social Services, said stability has always been a goal in foster care placement.

“We’re really excited about these numbers because they mean children are doing better,” she said. “It helps us do shared parenting, which helps everyone in the process of reunifying a family.”

[Kenya] ...Gets Sh1.1 Billion for Poverty Eradication

from All Africa

Elizabeth Mwai

Kenya has received Sh1.1 billion from the European Commission for poverty eradication.

The money will be used to enhance the capacity of Government officials to enforce environmental regulations and promote community-based initiatives in environment conservation.

Planning and National Development minister Henry Obwocha on Wednesday said unsustainable utilisation and mismanagement of natural resources was a major challenge to the Government's effort to tackle poverty.

"We need to protect our environment if we are to realise economic growth," Obwocha said in a speech read on his behalf by the Permanent Secretary Edward Sambili.

The four-year programme dubbed "Community Development for Environment Management"(CDEMP) focuses on waste management in urban areas, and energy saving ways targeting the ecosystems in both rural and urban areas.

Speaking at a Nairobi hotel , Obwocha said the programme would complement the Government's effort to integrate environmental concerns into the development process.

[South Africa] dogged by poverty ahead of Freedom celebrations

from SABC News

One of the main challenges still facing this country after twelve years of democracy is poverty, notwithstanding great strides the country has made in some areas over this period, according to Pallo Jordan, the arts and culture minister, on the eve of the Freedom Day celebrations tomorrow.

The theme for this year's celebrations is: "Age of Hope-Through Struggle to Freedom". This year's theme stems from President Thabo Mbeki's State of the Nation address in February. Among other things, he mentioned the country's positive economic growth as something that brings hope.

And the "Struggle to Freedom" is linked to the fact that freedom was an outcome of the struggle. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace prize laureate, is convinced that we have every reason to celebrate. Tutu said: "You remember how people predicted? Just wait, give them three months, you are going to see this country going to the dogs. Guess what? Nearly 12 years and Tito is regarded as one of the best governors of central banks in the world."

Celebrations will be held countrywide
Jordan said: "When we came into office, we were nervous about the growth rate of the economy and for a long time it sort of stuck between three perecnt and four percent and last year most of the economists said no, actually South Africa's economy has grown at the rate close to six percent."

But, Jordan acknowledges that government is still grappling with huge challenges to better the lives of the people. They include unemployment, housing, service delivery and these are all related to poverty. Celebrations will be held countrywide, with the main event in Kimberley, where President Thabo Mbeki is expected to speak.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

[Burundi] Government Urged to Help Starving Nation

from Community Newswire

By Ben Pindar,

A British-based aid agency has today called on the Government to take urgent action to help more than two million people on the brink of starvation in Africa.

Charity staff at ActionAid have accused the world's governments of "ignoring" the people of Burundi where almost a third of the population have been forced into starvation by several years of poor rainfall, the lack of a national food security policy and chronic poverty.

Without an urgent increase in food aid, thousands could die of hunger warns ActionAid.

The World Food Programme and aid agencies are distributing emergency rations, but the charity claims an estimated $75 million of aid is still needed in order to avert disaster.

Poor rainfall over the past six years in the north, north-eastern and central provinces has brought starvation to areas which were traditionally regarded as Burundi's food basket. Crops such as maize and sorghum have failed and cassava has been wiped out by disease.

Burundi used to receive reliable rains twice a year and had ample supplies of fresh food. Its farmers have never had to learn the techniques of irrigation and food preservation which are used by people in more arid areas to survive long periods without rain.

The newly installed government is currently trying to rebuild a nation that has suffered the effects of 12 years of ethnic conflict and has not yet had the chance to devise detailed food security policies and planning systems.

Sam Braimah, director of ActionAid in Burundi, said: "We need a national food security policy that protects poor farmers in order to break the vicious circle of poverty, hunger and disease.

"However, right now the priority must be to feed people who have absolutely nothing left to eat."

Burundi is the second most densely populated country in Africa. A demographic explosion has resulted in the division of land into smaller and smaller plots.

The legacy of a twelve year civil war and population pressure has led to degradation of the environment and the loss of most of Burundi's forests.

ActionAid is currently working with local partners to distribute food to more than 6,500 families in some of the hardest-hit districts.

It has delivered 35 tonnes of beans and 35 tonnes of maize and cassava flour, worth £20,000 to two communes in Kirundo, one of five provinces where the government has declared a state of famine. This will be followed by deliveries to the Ruyigi and Rutana provinces.

ActionAid works in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas to fight global poverty and tackle the injustice and inequity that cause it. For more information visit

[Free Trade] U.S. Trade Deals Bitter to Latin Americans

from The Houston Chronicle


BOGOTA, Colombia — With the rise of China and stiff competition from Europe, the United States has been flexing its economic muscle in its own backyard.

Since 2003, when attempts to secure a hemispheric-wide free trade zone broke down, U.S. negotiators have signed bilateral, free trade agreements with nine Latin American nations. Two more, with Ecuador and Panama, are in the pipeline.

Despite skepticism among U.S. labor groups and Congress, those agreements have been an unqualified success for American exporters. For example, U.S. exports to Chile have almost doubled, to $5.2 billion (euro4.19 billion) last year, in the two years since the two countries signed a deal, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said.

But among Latin Americans, the dollar diplomacy has left a bitter taste.

"Nobody who sat across the negotiating table from the United States came out of the talks feeling they got a fair deal," said Peter Hakim, president of the nonpartisan Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington. "And many feel they've been outright cheated."

Part of the failure to impress is attributable to a surge of leftist leaders in Latin America, who've deftly capitalized on the region's traditional protectionism and mistrust of Washington.

But even economists concede that free trade has barely helped the region reduce widespread poverty, which has remained stagnant for decades.

Moreover, the pacts may end up hurting farmers and rural peasants who make up almost half of Latin America's 500 million people. By permanently locking in trade preferences, countries entering trade deals are effectively turning a blind eye to the $17 billion (euro13.68 billion) that U.S. farmers receive annually in government subsidies, making it extremely tough to compete.

Not surprisingly, support for U.S. free trade deals in Latin America may be turning.

In Ecuador, Indian protesters last month paralyzed much of the country for nearly two weeks demanding that President Alfredo Palacio suspend trade talks with the United States that have been ongoing for years.

And even the signing of a deal is no guarantee of its implementation. Legislatures in Costa Rica and Peru have stubbornly refused to rubber stamp recent deals even as calls by opposition politicians for national referendums have grown louder.

Still, despite the push by Argentina and Brazil to create a South American trade zone, for much of the region the price of saying no to Uncle Sam remains too high. Even if that means betraying popular goals of regional solidarity.

The experience of the Andean Community trade bloc _ comprised of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela _ is a case in point.

The recent trade deals by Colombia and Peru with the United States sounded the death knell for the 39-year-old trade bloc, at least in spirit. For example, in providing a quota for American soy products, Colombia effectively shut out Bolivia from what has been until now its top soy market, worth $170 million (euro136.82 million) a year.

Citing Peru and Colombia's defections, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a staunch opponent of U.S. free-trade deals, announced last week that he was pulling out of the trade bloc.

It remains to be seen how strongly the Venezuelan pullout could affect the $8 billion (euro6.44 billion) in annual trade among bloc members, and Venezuela's commerce minister said over the weekend that the withdrawal would be gradual, over five years.

The Andean Community says that trade among member countries has risen on average by 13.5 percent a year since 1990, when it began gradually lifting tariffs and liberalizing trade.

[US] $ 1.25bn to fight malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa

from African News Dimension

By Robert Isaur

Kampala (AND) THE United States under the President George Bush's Malaria Initiative (PMI) has launched a US $ 1.25bn initiative to fight Malaria in three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Uganda, Angola and Tanzania.

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes and causes racking pain, fever and, if left untreated, death. It is the leading cause of death of about one million people and most especially in those in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Deputy Director, Office of Global Affairs, Mr Micheal Hollingdale said the United States will significantly expand resources for malaria in Angola, Tanzania and Uganda beginning in 2006, and will expand to at least four more highly endemic African countries in 2007, and at least five more in 2008.

“By 2010, the U.S. Government will provide an additional $500 million per year for malaria prevention and treatment. The goal of the PMI is to reduce malaria deaths by 50 percent in each of the target countries after three years of full implementation.

This effort will eventually cover more than 175 million people in 15 or more of the most affected African countries,” Hollingdale said during the opening remarks for a stakeholders meeting at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala, April 26. He said: “This new groundbreaking initiative challenges other countries, partners, donors and foundations to also commit to combating this disease significantly in sub-Saharan Africa each year over the next five years.

“Malaria accounts for 25-40 percent of all outpatient visits at healthcare facilities. Up to 20 percent of all hospital admissions and 15 percent of in-patient deaths are due to malaria. Fighting the parasitic disease is, therefore, one of the U.S. Government's highest priorities.” He said the activities include insecticide treated bed net marketing, prevention programs that target children and pregnant women and ensuring appropriate treatment is available and accessible.

The PMI coordinates with the Ministries of Health, the Malaria Control Programs and several local and global partners including the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), the UK International Development Agency (DFID) and the World Bank. The minister of state for primary health care, Dr Alex Kamugisha said the malaria episodes are very terrible and leave patients impoverished. He said emphasis should be put on researching on local herbs that have been used locally for long.

[Morocco] Poverty strikes 14.2% of Moroccans, minister

from Maghreb Arabe Presse

Social Development, Family and Solidarity Minister, Abderrahim Harouchi, said on Tuesday that the poverty rate in Morocco stands presently at 14.2 per cent of the population.

Speaking at a question time at the House of Advisors, the minister said that Morocco is now using an important mechanism to determine the rate of poverty, namely the "collective card for poverty" (la carte collective pour la pauvreté), which also makes it easy to develop poverty-eradication programs, and to determine economic and human development indicators in each rural area.

360 rural communes, he went on, where poverty rate exceeds 30% will benefit from the poverty-eradication program part of the large-scale poverty and exclusion-fighting National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) launched in May 2005.

The official also cited the anti-exclusion program, which will benefit 250 city neighborhoods, the program to fight extreme vulnerability, and the horizontal program to finance poverty-eradication projects.

He recalled that in 2004 the State earmarked over USD 36Mn to fund some 1,815 projects to the benefit of more than 2,000 associations, adding that his department last year funded 1,370 projects for a sum of nearly USD 25Mn.

[Tanzania] New study shows farming expansion key to scrapping rural poverty

from IPP Media

By Beatrice Philemon

High, sustained agricultural growth is needed for the reduction of rural poverty. The reason is farm output growth can be broadly shared, a Poverty and Human Development Report issued by REPOA indicates.

Unfortunately, agricultural production has not improved substantially for both food and cash crops, the report notes.

’’Similarly, productivity has remained low, especially among smallholder farmers who constitute the majority of agricultural producers in Tanzania and the quality of export crops has remained low relative to export crops produced by neighbouring countries,’’ the report laments.

A combination of low production, low productivity, and low quality of agricultural produce has significant limiting effects on rural growth and therefore on poverty reduction.

Furthermore, significant poverty reduction in Tanzania will depend on higher growth rates in the rural economy, particularly in the agricultural sector, is says.

The report suggests that the promotion of integrated production schemes should be considered as a promising strategy and these should involve co-ordinated access to improved inputs, extension services, and transportation, processing and marketing.

’’The promotion of integrated schemes of production involving access to inputs, technology and extension services, transport, processing and marketing should increase rural growth by ensuring the increased output and improved quality of products.’’ The report indicates.

The report proposes that efforts should be directed towards understanding and eliminating the barriers to smallholders that continue to inhibit the growth of productivity.

The objective is to transform the sector into one with high labour productivity and high quality outputs.

Specifically, the major aims should be to increase both the quantity of production through increasing the number of hectares under cultivation and their yields and the quality of production.

The report notes that the major factors contributing to the poor performance of the agricultural sector are the low level of education and literacy amongst smallholder farmers, exposure to variable weather conditions, price variations, limited investments and weak institutional arrangements.

These problems justify the consideration of involving smallholders in co-ordinated and integrated approach to production, including the establishment of out-grower schemes.

Crop production is the main activity for about 50 per cent of the smallholder households.

The majority of crop growing households consume what they produce, yet 70 per cent also sell some portion of their produce.

There are very low levels of processing and storage of crops beyond the household level.

Elaborating on tea, sisal, coffee, and tobacco production, it says that the production of tea, tobacco, sisal, and coffee has fluctuated at around 50 million tons per year, while paddy, beans/ pulses, and millet/sorghum has fluctuated at around half a million tons per year.

Maize and cassava production has been on an upward trend since 2001, at the same time the production of cotton, cashews and sugar cane has recorded significant jumps, with sugar cane production increasing significantly since 2001.

This is due to the privatisation of sugar cane estates and the adoption of the out- grower model of production, which began in early 2000.

The details show that tea yields from smallholders have been also consistently lower than from estates since the mid 1970’s to 2005, with productivity of tea estates increasing during the mid to late 1990’s, while that of smallholders plummeted.

This is also the case for other crops with production of maize by smallholders (2002/03) being 0.73 tonnes/hectare and of sorghum 0.43 tons/hectare which compares poorly with production by large farmers of 4.0 tons/hectare of maize and 2.7 tons/hectare of sorghum.

Currently Tanzania’s agriculture is driven mainly by smallholder producers and there has been low increases in agriculture production and insufficient improvements in quality.

There are 4.8 million smallholders cultivating about 44 million hectares in Tanzania, and 31 per cent of the heads of the households have no education, while 63 percent have some level of primary education, though only 20 per cent have completed Standard Four.

[UK] 'Millions go to waste' in war against city poverty

from The Scotsman


THE head of the agency charged with tackling poverty in Craigmillar said today it had wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

The Craigmillar Partnership has spent around £20 million over the last ten years trying to improve life in the area.

But Paul Nolan, chairman of the partnership, said that around half the money it has been spending for at least the last five years has had no positive effect.

The former city councillor was speaking after a senior council official criticised the lack of control over the money being spent in the Capital on anti-poverty projects in a report to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Nolan, who has led the partnership for five years, said he thought there was a lot of truth in the criticism.

"A lot of money [we receive] is used to employ middle-class professionals who do very little work at tackling deprivation in Craigmillar," he said. "Measures used to evaluate their impact are vague to the extent they are meaningless. A good half of the £1.7m we hand out [annually] has no effect on tackling deprivation."

Mr Nolan said he wanted to see an independent arbitrator brought in to make radical changes to the partnership. One of the projects he criticised was WorkTrack, a scheme aimed at helping the area's unemployed find jobs.

It was founded in Craigmillar in 1999 and now helps jobseekers across the city. It is not known how many of the people the organisation has found employment for have kept their jobs.

Mr Nolan said: "It receives hundreds of thousands of pounds and produces fantastic, pretty picture presentations with graphs.

"Then you ask how many apprentices have they got and it's about three or four."

But Martin Smith, chief executive of WorkTrack, hit back, saying: "We help between 260 and 300 people into work every year. We also work with school leavers and if the number of apprenticeships has dropped it is because more are going on to further education. We see that as a success."

The council spends about £7m a year on special education, health and housing projects aimed at helping the city's poorest residents. A further £7m a year is poured into areas like Broomhouse, Sighthill and Leith by the Scottish Executive and its funding arm, Communities Scotland.

Councillor Ian Perry, deputy leader of the city council and a Craigmillar Partnership member, said questions needed to be asked about the effectiveness of spending, adding: "All the money has been spent on legitimate projects targeting social exclusion.

"However, there is an issue about whether this approach can ever tackle the root causes."

Councillor Iain Whyte, the city's Tory leader, said: "I don't think this will surprise the people of Craigmillar. Huge amounts of money have gone into the area, it's always difficult to see what good it's done for the community."

More than 50,000 people in the Capital are estimated to be living in poverty and relying on handouts to survive.

A report into the effectiveness of public spending on projects to tackle deprivation across the country has just been carried out for the parliament. In the report, a senior city council finance official questioned how effectively the effects of cash being spent in the Capital was being monitored.

He said: "There appears to be a lot going in - but it's not measured effectively."

Councillor Sheila Gilmore, the city's housing leader, said: "Every project that is funded has to put together a report on whether it has met its targets. That information is then passed on to Communities Scotland, so there is a reporting mechanism."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We are ensuring the way funding is allocated is simplified and better co-ordinated."
Who gets what in the great housing estate share-out

Money allocated by Craigmillar Partnership in support of local projects 2005/6:

• Craigmillar Ability Network, creating a network for disabled people - £52,617

• The Capacity Building project, helping people develop skills for community life - £209,595 plus £13,000 for CPB Bingham

• Craigmillar Neighbourhood Alliance - £27,034

• Edinburgh Community Food Initiative - £5250

• Community Voices, which allows residents to have a say - £45,000

• Craigmillar Childcare Services, which runs after-school clubs - £206,356

• Worktrack for employment support and advice - £168,866,

• Cafe K, a youth support group - £56,646

• Haywired, providing computer and internet resources - £100,000

• Womanzone, helping women combat physical and mental health problems - £27,454

• Craigmillar Development Enterprise, a social regeneration group - £170,000

• The Arts and Environmental project - £28,988

• MIME, which oversees the local European Regional Development Fund programme - £60,293

• The Craigmillar Chronicle, a community newspaper - £37,859

• Phonelink, which runs a morning alarm call for families where attendance at school is a problem - £67,859

• The Venchie breakfast club programme for youngsters - £88,240

• The Bingham 50+ Project - £5000

• Lismore Parent Action Group - £12,000

• Bingham Community Planning group - £25,000

• Sexual health support group HOT - £103,922

• The Richmond Cafe, run by Richmond Church in Craigmillar - £8367

• Adult Student Link - £44,597

Tackling Drugs Misuse fund - £50,000
Should organisations given public money be more accountable?

Douglas Smart, 63, retired solicitor, Bellfield Avenue, Musselburgh: "The spending of all public money must be accountable. Having said that, I suspect politicians waste more money than public sector organisations."

Evelyn Robertson, 65, retired, Orchard Bank: "Absolutely, I feel there is a lot of money pouring into Craigmillar and there is very little to show for it."

Darran Quigley, 29, taxi driver, Forrester Park Avenue: "Everyone is entitled to have a shot but you've still got to be accountable for your actions."

David Poole, 73 , retired engineer, Mayfield Road: "They should definitely be more accountable. There's no point having good ideas if they are not put into practice."

Natasha Lobely, 28, PR account manager, Dalmeny Street: "The man in charge of the Craigmillar Partnership should be able to take more responsibility and do more research into whether these projects are going to work."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

[New Zealand] The march to end poverty

from The Times Online

COMMITTED charity-minded Manukau folk put their bodies on the line in a physical contest first designed to train Nepal’s famous Gurkha soldiers.

Rosina Walker (Dannemora), Gary Chamberlin (Manukau), Jason Litherland (Papatoetoe) and Alison McKinnon (Whitford) formed team Advanced Dynamics setting off on a quest to walk 100km in 36 hours, in the Oxfam Trailwalker known as the world’s greatest team challenge.

The team’s time of 29 hours, 31 minutes helped raise $500,000 for the world’s poorest people, says Oxfam, at this year’s event in Taupo earlier this month. Celebrating its 25th anniversary trek, Oxfam says the Trailwalker is its main fundraising challenge in Australia, Britain and China and is based on a military training exercise for the Gurkhas, intended to test teamwork and stamina.

“We had a great time. Knowing we’ve not only crossed the finish line, but have also helped people trapped in poverty is what makes finishing so good,” says Ms Walker.

The Advanced Dynamics people trained for three months and were four of 756 participants in 187 teams at Taupo, with more than 700 support crew and 200 race volunteers cheering them on.

Oxfam says participants came from all walks of Kiwi life, including 10 mums, two hairdressers, 27 engineers, 23 teachers, 13 managers, 10 firemen and four postmen.

“In the 36 hours it takes to complete the Trailwalker challenge, 43,200 children will have died because of poverty,” says Oxfam NZ executive director Barry Coates. “That’s the equivalent of every New Zealand child under three suddenly dying from a preventable disease in a single weekend.”

The Trailwalker has raised more than $45 million over 25 years and funds generated this year will go towards Oxfams NZ’s response to international humanitarian emergencies such as the catastrophic earthquake in Pakistan.

[Swaziland] Well-connected loansharks swim in a sea of poverty

from Reuters Alert Net

The Swazi media has launched an attack on the country's exploitative moneylenders, often the only source of finance for the poor, and in doing so has exposed the extent of the practice.

Zelda Shongwe turned to a moneylender at a time of crisis - like many poor Swazis with no access to formal financial institutions - and was saddled with interest rates that threatened her family's security.

"My niece died, and I was faced with the funeral expenses," said Shongwe, a 59-year-old widowed grandmother. "Her parents died, and what they left barely covered their own funerals. I had to get R2,000 [US $300] from a moneylender."

The loanshark demanded a 30 percent interest rate and because Shongwe drew out her repayments, she ended up forking over R3,000 [US $500] - a 50 percent interest fee.

The Swazi media has been on a month-long campaign to end usury lending. The Swazi Observer has roped in commitments from the Ministry of Enterprise and Employment and the Ministry of Finance to enforce lending laws, which stipulate a 10 percent cap on interest rates.

Lenders - who openly advertise their services on signboards in downtown Mbabane - have struck back at the spate of negative publicity by threatening to cut off loans to Swazi Observer staff, many of whom they said are regular borrowers. Editor in Chief Musa Ndlangamandla said he would stand firm against the threats.

Amos, a moneylender in the commercial hub of Manzini, south of the capital Mbabane, said he provides a valuable service that Swazis have come to rely on.

"My clients cannot get personal loans from banks. They don't have bank accounts. They don't have credit. They don't own anything, even the land the live on [80 percent of Swazis reside on communal land]. Where can they go for money to pay school fees or funerals?"

Like other moneylenders, Amos said high interest rates are necessary to compensate for the risk involved in lending money to people who are often unable to repay. "The default rate is very high. We deal with poor people. We are not like banks that can repossess cars and homes if borrowers default," he said.

Drawn to comment in an Observer interview, King Mswati said he wished Swazis would draw up household budgets and stick to them.

With two-thirds of Swazis living below the poverty line and formal sector employment at 45 percent, the livelihoods of the majority of Swazis depends on the informal sector - where moneylenders play a prominent role.

As the anti-usury media campaign continues, the pervasiveness of loansharks in all strata of society is being revealed. Enterprise and Employment Minister Lutfo Dlamini vowed to crack down on exploitative lenders - just as the local press alleged that Dlamini's wife was herself one.

The press also suggested that Swaziland's top traditional authority, Jim Gama, the Governor of Ludzidzini Royal Village and arbiter of Swazi custom, is a moneylender.

Gama defended his business as a form of assistance for people in need. He said he charges 20 percent interest, a rate one third less than what is customarily charged, but double the legal interest rate limit.

Thab'sile Maziya, who runs a fruit stand at a bus stop at a Manzini residential township, feels she has had a raw deal at the hands of moneylenders.

"When I opened, I borrowed money to buy stock. I ended up working for the first months with nothing to put in my pocket. All the profits went to the moneylender. Poor people who are forced to borrow money always slip deeper into poverty," Maziya said.

She called for government to set up a small lending scheme with reasonable interest rates to advance money to people who do not qualify for bank loans.

John Fakudze, an assistant bank manager, said economic upliftment would reduce people's dependency on loansharks. "People need to put a little away every month in a bank account for future emergencies. People complain about bank charges, but these are much smaller than moneylender interest rates," Fakudze said.

Government efforts to assist people in the informal economy through self-help schemes have hit a snag with a corruption scandal swirling around a R50 million [US $8.2 million] small business empowerment programme.

The money, intended for training and long-term development of the small- and medium-sized business sector, was exhausted months after the programme was launched at an extensively-publicised Job Creation Summit last year. MPs are considering a parliamentary probe to determine what happened to the money.

[Mozambique] Guebuza Urges Veterans to Combat Poverty

from All Africa


Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Monday urged members of the Association of Veterans of the National Liberation Struggle (ACLLN) to seek answers to the country's main challenges, particularly the fight against poverty.

Addressing the opening session of a meeting of the association's National Committee, Guebuza mentioned, among other issues, the capacity to involve more young people, children of the veterans, in the various ACLLN activities.

"Starting in the family environment, they have lived the epic of our liberation, and have a valuable contribution to make that can give vitality to our association", he said.

He also insisted on the need for greater participation by women veterans in the organization's activities, and urged all members of the ACLLN to contribute to the fight against poverty, and to remove obstacles to the country's development.

"These and other challenges are perfectly within the reach of the association's members", he added.

Guebuza noted that since its establishment, the ACLLN has created a number of expectations among its members and among Mozambican society at large, and it is important to assess "to what extent we are meeting those expectations".

The ACLLN is one of the "social organisations" affiliated to the ruling Frelimo Party. The meeting of its National Committee follows immediately after the weekend Conference of Frelimo Cadres, and before a meeting of the Frelimo Central Committee, scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

[Bob Geldof] takes aim at corruption in Africa

from The Mail and Guardian Online

Billions of dollars in aid will achieve "zero" in Africa unless governments on the continent are serious about fighting corruption and poverty, Irish rocker and humanitarian Bob Geldof said on Tuesday.

The 54-year-old political activist, who will be performing in Johannesburg and Cape Town this week, said he saw "many, many optimistic signs and just as many crap signs" that African governments were cleaning up their act.

"The rich world can pour endless billions into the continent of Africa but none of this will work unless African governments are serious," Geldof told a news conference in Johannesburg.

"Corruption is a byproduct of poverty. We have corruption in France, Germany and Ireland. ... We are rich enough so that it doesn't kill us. In sub-Saharan Africa, it kills people. And it must stop," he said.

Nominated five times for a Nobel peace prize, Geldof singled out Benin, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa as countries that have earned "plus points" for their good governments.

A member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa, Geldof singled out as progress the Group of Eight's decision to cancel the debt owed by some of the poorest countries and double assistance by 2010.

But he added: "None of this works, none, zero, unless the governments of Africa are equally serious about trying to pull their people out of poverty."

The creator of Live 8, a series of concerts held worldwide last year that raised awareness about Africa's plight, will be performing for the first time in South Africa.

[UK] Young 'face risk of poverty trap'

from The BBC

Poverty in teenage years has had an increasing effect in keeping people poor when they get to middle age, research has suggested.

The study found that a teenager in a poor family in the 1970s was twice as likely to be poor later on in life.

But poor teenagers in the 1980s were four times more likely than their counterparts to still be poor when they became adults.

The findings come from research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Two lecturers from the London School of Economics looked at two official surveys of all people born during one week in March 1958 and one week in April 1970.

Their research examined questionnaire responses from 5,000 people in each of the two groups, or cohorts, of people.

Doubled chance of poverty

They found that there was a significant persistence of poverty between teenage years and early middle age, and that this link had got stronger for the people born in 1970 compared with those born in 1958.

Although poverty at 16 was not the sole factor in deciding poverty later in life, its effect had doubled between the generations.

One of the researchers, Jo Blanden, said: "Poverty at 16 has become more important in influencing poverty in middle age, but it's not the only thing that makes people disadvantaged."

She pointed out that poverty is just part of a package of other influences, such as poorly educated parents, unemployment and living in a poor neighbourhood, which can cause poverty to persist through life.

Blanden also stressed that her study did not reveal if teenage poverty is still having an increased effect in later generations or whether the effect has tailed off.

[WTO Doha Round] abandons plans to hold trade meeting

from Business Week

The WTO has abandoned plans to hold a major ministerial meeting here this week because differences between major players on how to liberalize world trade remain too wide, the head of the commerce body said Monday.

The decision means the World Trade Organization's 149 members will miss an end-of-April deadline to agree on precise formulas for cutting farm and industrial tariffs, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said after a meeting of senior negotiators.

"It is not good news but we have to face reality," Lamy said. "We have a missed deadline but we have no deadlock. Negotiations have been moving forward in the recent past."

The deadline was a key step toward concluding the WTO's Doha round -- named for the Qatari capital where it was launched in 2001 -- by the end of the year. Negotiators will now try to agree on the formulas as soon as possible in the hope of setting up a conclusion to the talks by the end of the year.

Time is particularly tight for the entire Doha round because of the July 2007 expiration of the U.S. "fast-track" authority, which requires the U.S. Congress to either accept or reject international deals as a whole, without being able to pick them apart line by line.

"I don't think it's good news for the round, but I don't think either that we should cry over the missed deadline," Lamy said.

No new deadline was being set but that work needs to be stepped up if members are to conclude the negotiations in time, he added.

"It is absolutely imperative to organize this in an intensive, continuous and effective way if we are to make up for lost time and fulfill our ultimate deadline of concluding the round this year," he said.

The Doha round aims to boost the global economy and lift millions out of poverty worldwide by lowering trade barriers across all sectors, with particular emphasis on developing countries.

But the complex talks have stalled as poorer countries seek greater concessions on farm aid from the European Union and United States, who in turn want major developing countries like Brazil and India to liberalize their industrial and services sectors. Sniping between the EU and United States has further stalled progress.

"We have made progress, but not enough," added EU Ambassador Carlo Trojan.

[Africa] countries fight malaria, Burundi ahead of rest

from Reuters Alert Net

By Jack Kimball

BUJUMBURA, April 25 (Reuters) - Four-year old Jonathan Hitamwoniza wails as his index finger is pricked in a local health clinic in Burundi's capital.

A rapid test shows that he has malaria -- for the third time in his short life.

"I didn't see a problem, because he was sleeping under the nets. I don't see why he's sick," his mother Mazoya said.

She adds that even though her children sleep under mosquito nets, all four have had malaria.

More than one million people die from malaria every year, almost 90 percent are in Africa. The disease is most deadly for children under five, killing one child every 30 seconds.

As the continent celebrates Africa Malaria Day on Tuesday, activists say Burundi is one of the few countries making strides in combating the disease thanks to money from the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Out of a population of seven million, Burundi had 1.9 million cases of malaria last year, compared to the 3.1 million cases in 2000, according to the health ministry.

"The impact we're feeling is due to the Global Fund money," Dr Francoise Ndayishimiye, who coordinates Global Fund activity for civil society, told reporters on a trip to Burundi, seen as a model of success in the fight against Malaria.

The Global Fund, launched in 2002, makes up about two thirds of worldwide financing to prevent and treat malaria, and is the main financier of developing countries' scale-up of artemisinin-based combination drugs -- known as ACTs.

Its executive board meets this week to decide on whether to launch a sixth round of grants in what observers say is a key juncture for the young development financier as it decides its future size and ambition.


Green nets encircle mother and child in the paediatric ward of Cibitoke hospital, 60 km from the capital.

Thin, clear intravenous lines (IVs) run along the nets entering the arms of emaciated children who have come down with severe cases of malaria.

Head nurse Alice Ndayishimiye says of the two hundred patients who come in with malaria per month, ten percent die, but ACTs are having an impact.

"We've seen a regression of malaria cases since more people started taking ACT drugs," she said.

In an effort to combat drug-resistant malaria, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya have recently switched to ACTs and have begun training local health workers on how to use them.

Burundi was one of the first countries to switch to ACTs as the first line of defence after finding that traditional malaria drugs were showing 70 percent resistance.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says a drug regime should be changed at 15 to 20 percent resistance.

The non-profit medical organisation Medicins Sans Frontieres said the change over to ACTs was a main reason for the decrease in deaths and cases in Burundi.

Fabio Pompetti, head of mission for MSF in Burundi, said during peak malaria months in Karuzi province, which has a population of 350,000, MSF deals with around 15,000 cases per month, down dramatically from 170,000 cases in 2001.

"Malaria is the first cause of death in Burundi, but now we can see the figures are going down. ACTs are not only treating you, but reducing the number of human reservoirs," he said.

Human reservoirs refer to a mosquito's potential to pick up the disease from an infected human and transfer it to others.

[Africa] hits higher economic growth rate -World Bank

from the Tide

Sub-Saharan African economies grew by 4.8 per cent in 2004, for the first time exceeding the annual global growth rate, which was 4.1 per cent during the year, a World Bank report has shown.

The “World Development Indicators 2006”, released in Washington, DC, at the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), shows that 20 out of the 48 Sub-Saharan African countries grew at a rate of more than five per cent in 2004.

Growth in the oil producing countries of Nigeria, Angola, Chad and Sudan was pushed up by the recent rise in oil exports and the oil price boom, the report explained.

But 15 non-oil producing countries have shown median growth rates of 5.3 per cent since 1995, which the report says points to their potential for long-term growth.

“After many years, the continent is showing growth that could deliver much more poverty reduction than in the recent past,” remarked World Bank Chief Economist Francois Bourguignon in a press statement announcing the release of the report.

The World Development Indicators report, however, shows that Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest poverty rate in the world.

In 2002, the report said, the continent had 300 million people, about 44 per cent of its population, living on less than one dollar a day, that was more than a 100 per cent increase from 139 million people in 1981, the report notes.

On the contrary, the report pointed out that the population of people living in extreme poverty in East Asia fell by 580 million people to 12 per cent of the population during the period.

It is currently projected that Africa’s poverty rate will remain above 38 per cent by 2015, far above the target of 22.3 per cent set in the Millennium Development Goals.

African countries suffering from conflict and political instability, such as Cote D’Ivoire and Eritrea or those left out of the commodity boom, such as Niger and Central African Republic, grew at less than two per cent rate.

Such low growth rates combined with the regional population growth rate of 2.5 per cent have limited the growth of the continent’s per capita income to 1.6 per cent since 2000, the World Bank report stated.

The report, however, pointed out that Africa’s income growth rate over the past four years has been equal to or exceeded that of the high income countries and has exceeded growth in Latin America.

The Bank report also pointed out that Sub-Saharan Africa remains a high-cost, high-risk place for business, with the result being less investment, less employment, lower incomes and less competitiveness.

Doing business in Africa, the report said, cost about 20 to 40 per cent more than in other regions of the-developing world.

[WTO Doha Round] Bold global trade action needed to cut world poverty: Annan

from Ireland On Line

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged wealthy nations to take bold action this year to liberalise global trade and help developing countries escape poverty, calling the lack of progress “perilous”.

Annan’s appeal for a successful conclusion to negotiations on lowering trade barriers was backed by top officials from the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank at a meeting focusing on efforts to meet UN goals to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015.

Alongside progress on debt relief and boosting aid to poor nations, Annan said yesterday that “the lack of significant progress on trade is conspicuous, and even perilous”.

He told international finance and trade officials who came to the UN following their spring meeting in Washington over the weekend that completing the so-called Doha Round of trade talks is essential to enable millions of poor and marginalised people to lift themselves out of poverty.

The World Trade Organisation, which sets the rules for global commerce, launched the talks in 2001 in the Qatari capital, Doha, with the aim of slashing subsidies, tariffs and other barriers to global commerce, and using trade to help poor nations.

Negotiators have been at an impasse for months, with developing countries demanding that rich nations do more to open up their farm markets.

The European Union and United States, in turn, want major developing countries like Brazil and India to liberalise their industrial and services sectors. Sniping between the EU and US has further stalled progress.

“In the last 12 months, the international community has taken major steps toward debt relief and increasing aid,” said WTO Deputy Director-General Valentine Rugwabiza, “but there is a missing piece of the development puzzle - an essential third pillar – and that is trade opening.”

She warned that if negotiations aren’t successfully concluded this year, the chances of a global trade deal on the scale envisioned by Doha “will be impossible in the foreseeable future” and “developing countries will lose a once-in-a-generation opportunity to open world markets for their exports and redress imbalances in global trade relations.”

Annan expressed fear that the difficulties in negotiations will lead some participants to consider settling “for something less than a true development round” that helps the world’s poor.

“That must not be allowed to happen,” he said. “We must maintain our ambition, sustain the drive, and demonstrate the political courage needed to conclude the talks by the end of the year.”

IMF Deputy Managing Director Agustin Carstens said the strong broad-based expansion of the global economy is likely to continue but he warned against complacency because of the risks posed by high and volatile oil prices, ”a broad tightening of global financial conditions, a rise in protectionism and the possible avian flu pandemic”.

In addition, he said, “a substantive outcome to the Doha round by the end of 2006 is crucial for growth and poverty reduction”.

To sustain growth, Carstens also said the US should increase national savings, European countries using the euro currency should boost domestic demand, Japan should institute further structural reforms, and Asian countries with large surpluses should allow greater exchange rate flexibility.

Colombia’s Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, who chairs the joint World Bank-IMF policy-making Development Committee, said “developing country growth is at historically high levels”.

“It is striking that all developing regions have grown more rapidly than high-income countries over the last several years,” including sub-Saharan Africa which is growing at its fastest pace in the last 30 years, he said.

Carrasquilla urged all WTO members to step up efforts to conclude the Doha round, calling it “a critical complement to other efforts to increase growth and reduce global poverty”.

Providing affordable energy for developing countries is also essential, he said, noting that two-thirds of the increase in energy demand over the next 25 years will come from developing countries “where 1.6 billion people, mostly living in Africa and South Asia, still have no access to electricity.”

This will require investments of around $300bn (€242bn) a year, Carrasquilla said.