Monday, April 30, 2007

College degree may not be enough to protect against poverty

from The Northwest Florida Daily News

A rise in college attendance coupled with downsizing, outsourcing and a shortage of high-paying jobs is bolstering the ranks of the educated poor, people with college degrees who don't earn above the national poverty line, economists said.

"It's rough. It's actually embarrassing," said Michelle Donaldson-McIntyre, a college-educated single mother who earns about $15,000 a year as a teaching assistant in South Florida. "I struggled to get a higher education. I did it with my kids; I did it working two jobs. I have higher expectations of myself, I want more."

She said she will have to sell her home and move closer to relatives who can help take care of her two children while she pursues a bachelor's degree that will allow her to teach.

According to recent U.S. Census estimates, the number of college graduates earning below the poverty line has more than doubled in the past 15 years to almost 6 million people.

Florida's average of educated poor is slightly higher than the national average. In Palm Beach and Broward counties, college-educated poor outnumber poor high school dropouts.

Jared Bernstein, a senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute, said about 16 percent of U.S. college graduates are working jobs that don't require a degree.

"That's squandering a resource," he said.

The problem is more acute in Florida where the state economy is powered primarily by tourism and retiree industries with an abundance of service jobs and not high-paying jobs, said Dave Denslow, a University of Florida economist.

Employment experts said that forces graduates to lower their expectations.

"What I'm finding is more and more people who are underemployed," said Mike McLaren, a career consultant for Workforce Alliance in West Palm Beach. "Someone might have a master's degree but they're working as a retail salesperson."

Companies urged to address poverty

from The New Zealand Herald

Poverty in the Asia-Pacific region will directly threaten companies in Australia, according to a report by the Allen Consulting Group.

The report said global poverty was a direct threat to the prosperity of a range of Australian businesses through the loss of potential markets, damage to foreign affiliates and a greater risk of regional instability.

It urged Australian companies to do more to fight poverty in the Asia-Pacific and deepen their understanding of how they source materials and services.
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The report was commissioned by ANZ Bank, Grey Global Group, IAG, Pfizer and Visy Industries, who have formed the Business for Poverty Relief Alliance which is being facilitated by World Vision.

The alliance aims to have Australian companies put the issues of development, aid and poverty relief on their agenda.

The report found that corporate Australia was generally supportive of social investment, but few companies were tackling poverty in their closest export markets.

If poverty levels were not reduced, markets in the region would not develop as quickly, constraining the growth of companies in Australia.

The report said businesses could develop safe, affordable products for the poor and adhere strictly to human and labour rights policies along their supply chain.

Businesses should also provide "best practice" working conditions for workers in overseas operations and invest in research and development, infrastructure and technology in those countries.

The report said corporate Australia was largely ignorant of the UN Millennium Development Goals, a blueprint for governments, corporates and individuals to halve world poverty by 2015.

In Britain, Blacks and Asians are twice likely to live in poverty compared to Whites: Research

from New Kerala

A new research has revealed that the ratio of people among the Blacks and the Asians living in poverty in the UK was almost double than that among the Whites. And, this continues despite improvement in their academic performance and qualifications.

The Blacks and the Asians still faced prejudice in job interviews and were paid lower wages than their white counterparts, found the research, and concluded that people from ethnic-minority groups did not receive the same rewards as white British people with equivalent academic qualifications such as degrees.

Julia Unwin, the director of the Foundation that carried out the research, said: "We need an urgent rethink from government and employers, so that minority ethnic groups don't miss out on opportunities in the workplace."

Around four in 10 Black and Asian people in Britain live in poverty, which is twice the rate among white people, research has revealed, The Independent quoted the research findings as saying.

As many as 30 per cent of Indians and Black Caribbeans, 65 per cent of Bangladeshis, 55 per cent of Pakistanis, and 45 per cent of Black Africans were living in poverty in the UK, even as the overall poverty rate for ethnic minorities is 40 per cent, compared with 20 per cent for white Britons, said academic think-tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), which carried out the research.

Almost half of all Black and Asian children were growing up poor, including a staggering 70 per cent of Bangladeshi youngsters, it added.

The JRF reports showed that only 20 per cent of Bangladeshis, 30 per cent of Pakistanis and 40 per cent of Black Africans of working age are in full-time employment, compared with more than 50 per cent of white British people of working age.

Disproportionate numbers of ethnic minority workers were in low-paid jobs. Half of Bangladeshi workers, one-third of Pakistanis and one-quarter of black Africans are earning less than 6.50 pounds an hour, the JRF discovered. As a result, 60 per cent of Bangladeshi and 40 per cent of Pakistani families in which at least one adult is working face poverty, compared with only 10 to 15 per cent of white Britons.

Friday, April 27, 2007

"Idol" gives back $60 million, inspires thousands

from TV Guide

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The "American Idol" charity shows raised more than $60 million and inspired tens of thousands of Americans to join global anti-poverty campaigns, organizers said on Thursday.

Although some fans said the two-hour special failed to live up to its star-studded promise, the show of inspirational songs, skits and video clips of child poverty in Africa and the United States drew a 26.4 million television audience on Wednesday, the Fox network said.

Fox said the event had already raised $60 million in corporate and viewer donations, and more money was coming in. An updated total will be announced when "American Idol" returns to its regular format next week.

The "Idol Gives Back" two-night special was the first venture by a U.S. reality show into mass fund-raising. It cemented the credentials of what has grown from cheesy summer talent competition into a cultural phenomenon and the nation's most watched TV show.

The ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History, a coalition of dozens of nonprofits like Oxfam and Save the Children, said more than 70,000 Americans joined the campaign after the show, which included an appeal by Irish rock star and spokesman Bono.

Save the Children said traffic had increased significantly on its Web site.

"They took a risk by using their show to raise issues of poverty and asking people to contribute, and that is a huge accomplishment," Mark Shriver, vice president of U.S. programs for Save the Children, told Reuters.

"The 'American Idol' format is hugely successful and they introduced starving, dying children in Africa and children struggling with poverty in the United States, and brought that to prime time television," Shriver said.

Fox donated $5 million and presenter Ellen DeGeneres said she would contribute $100,000. A spokesman for normally acerbic British "Idol" judge Simon Cowell said he had made a "significant six figure donation."

But some viewers expressed concern about silence over early pledges that the show's main corporate sponsors would match each vote cast by viewers with donations. A record 70 million votes were cast by text or telephone.

"The details we've gotten have been vague and sketchy, " wrote a blogger on

Sponsors Coca-Cola and Ford declined on Thursday to say how much they had donated, citing business confidentiality. Ford said its contribution was tied to Internet downloads of its "Idol" music videos. AT&T could not be reached for comment.

Others complained that too many stars appeared only in brief video segments and some failed to turn up at all.

"Speaking of missing celebrities, wasn't Gwen Stefani, Pink and Michael Buble supposed to be there? Why did they promise so much, yet deliver so little?" asked Damien666, a blogger on the official Web site.

Fox said on Thursday some of the talent had to pull out and prerecorded pieces by others had been cut for reasons of time and would be shown later in the season.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How to Tackle Poverty, Unemployment in Africa, By ILO

from All Africa

Vanguard (Lagos)

By Funmi Komolafe
Addis Ababa

THE number of Africans on the poverty level will rise by 10,000 per day unless African governments involve all stakeholders in their societies in efforts to reduce unemployment and poverty.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director-General, Mr. Juan Somavia, speaking at the 11th African Regional meeting of the ILO in Addis Abba, yesterday, said what Africa required from multinational organisations was "partnerships rather than conditionalities" to help reduce poverty and create decent jobs.

The regional meeting featured the launch of the Decent Work Agenda for Africa 2007 to 2015 which was immediately supported by three African Heads of State including the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campaore, who with President Olusegun Obasanjo initiated the African Summit on Job Creation in Ougadougou in 2005.

President Campaore who launched the Decent Work Agenda 2007-2015 said it should make it possible for Africa to find solution to poverty and unemployment on the continent.

"The implementation of the Full Employment and Decent Work must be global for all our countries if we want to guarantee political stability and collective balance. Africa has great potentials and capacity to attain this goal if we improve education, knowledge and skills, if we create jobs and enterprises as well as better social economic security for our people. The Decent Work Agenda should make it possible for us to find the solution to poverty and unemployment in Africa," he said.

Speaking for stakeholders, Executive Secretary of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), Alhaji Hassan Sunmonu, said African countries had recorded five per cent growth but this is not yet "commensurate with the expected drop in poverty and unemployment."

He said the social partners had planned a summit on Governance and Social Dialogue for Decent Work in Africa for 2008 and that "this forum will be a good opportunity for workers, employers to make input into the Decent Work Agenda."

Sunmonu shared the views of the ILO Director -General that social dialogue was crucial to the attainment of Decent Work Agenda.

The ILO Director-General said: "Growth with few good jobs is not politically sustainable," emphasizing that the ILO has "multilateral system as a common interest," and has developed "toolkit" with other agencies to help others "self-assess their policies in terms of employment and decent work outcomes."

He said the ILO had 19 Decent Work Country Programmes at the operational stage on the continent while 25 more are under discussion.

In his address, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Ato Meles Zenawi , said: "The Decent Work Agenda in Africa 2007-2015 is so timely and relevant in terms of the major challenges we all face in our attempts to reduce poverty, including in line with the first Millennium Development Goal.

"There is no better forum for a practically oriented deliberation on decent jobs in Africa than a meeting at which the major participants are government representatives and representatives of employers' and workers' organisations."

Also speaking in support of the Decent Work for Africa Agenda, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania said his country had ratified all the eight core Conventions of the ILO and had made a commitment to create one million jobs in five years.

He, however, said Africa needed to pay more attention to the informal sector, extend social protection to the masses of the people in the informal sector and youth employment.

"The problem of youth unemployment is exacerbated by the global demographic trend which has seen the size of youth increasing at faster rate than our economies can absorb. It is, therefore, critical that partnership is forged in tackling the specific needs of young people in this era of globalisation, including human capacity building. Harnessing the energies and potentials of young people represents an invaluable opportunity to nurture agents of socio-economic development," he said.

The ILO's Regional Director for Africa, Nigeria's Regina Amadi-Njoku, presented the Director-General's Report on "ILO Activities in Africa" for 2004-2006. Discussion on that report and the Director-General's thematic report, "The Decent Work Agenda in Africa" which delegates deliberated upon yesterday.

The regional meeting continues in Addis Ababa.

Looking for tips to reduce poverty in NYC with visit to Mexico

from Newsday


MEXICO CITY -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pilot program to help New Yorkers break the cycle of poverty is modeled after a well-regarded Mexican initiative.

Bloomberg was in Mexico on Tuesday studying the program for tips he might adopt back home. The mayor, who reiterated that he is not planning to run for president, visited towns, spoke with his counterpart in Mexico City and met with workers and independent evaluators of the anti-poverty program.

The government's Oportunidades program provides medical care and gives cash grants to families for keeping children in school. It has been lauded by the World Bank and other countries as a model because it focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in long-term development.

"New Yorkers recognize the power of a good idea, and we're here in Toluca today to see firsthand how one good idea _ the Oportunidades program _ works," Bloomberg told reporters in the city west of the Mexican capital.

"The bottom line about Mexico's conditional cash transfer program is that it works, and during this trip we want to study the details of what they're doing right, so our program in New York can also succeed."

Bloomberg already has started a similar pilot program, Opportunity NYC, designed to help New Yorkers break the cycle of poverty.

Bloomberg, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, met in Toluca with federal Social Development Secretary Beatriz Zavala, who oversees Oportunidades.

Asked about a possible run for the U.S. presidency, the mayor said he was not a candidate. Questioned again following a meeting in Mexico City with Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, he said, "I do not anticipate being a candidate this time or any other time."

Ebrard said he and Bloomberg discussed several issues during their hourlong meeting, including the environment and public safety. Bloomberg later met privately with President Felipe Calderon. The details of that meeting were not disclosed.

It was not the first time Mexico City and the Big Apple have collaborated. As police chief in 2005, Ebrard hired the consulting firm of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani _ another possible presidential candidate _ for advice on how to reduce crime in Mexico's capital.

Ebrard said many of the consulting firm's recommendations have been implemented and already are yielding results.

But while he acknowledged that a program like Oportunidades could help New York City, Ebrard said he had more confidence in city government-sponsored efforts for Mexico City's more than 8 million people.

The federal program currently only helps 17,000 people in the capital, he said, while a city government pension program covers 420,000 senior citizens. A second program now in the works hopes to guarantee middle and high school education to 100,000 youth.

Bloomberg said Opportunity NYC will start with 2,500 families, "then potentially they could be scaled up."

"We have to see what works and what doesn't. But it does not replace any of the government-sponsored programs we have today" in New York, he said.

Oportunidades, Mexico's principal anti-poverty program, began operating in poor rural regions in 1997 under the name of Progresa. It later expanded to cities.

The program gives families cash grants to help pay for their children's schooling and to compensate for what the children would have earned if they were taken out of school and put to work, the traditional option in poor regions of Mexico.

Oportunidades also provides basic health care, including preventive services, for entire families as well as cash grants to buy food for the household.

World Bank officials have praised the program, saying that independent evaluations showed that poor Mexican children and their families who received the help were eating better and receiving better medical attention.

It currently serves about 25 million people in Mexico, Bloomberg's office said in a news release. Government officials could not be reached immediately to confirm those figures.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Rural Women Caught in Poverty Trap

from All Africa

Business Day (Johannesburg)

By Amy Musgrave

DEPUTY President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has called for practical interventions to ease the plight of rural women. She said that negative conditions have a greater effect on them than on other people.

"Women are more affected by unrewarding seasonal wage work. As unskilled casual workers on large farms, their overall value is not recognised. And, coupled with the demands of the household, they suffer from double exploitation and patriarchy," she said yesterday.

Mlambo-Ngcuka addressed the 4th World Congress on Rural Women held in Durban. Items for the agenda included a range of issues affecting rural women, such as globalisation, the rural economy, health, social issues and access to resources.

She said the factors that perpetuated poverty and reproduced it for large masses needed to be dealt with and eradicated.

These included a lack of access to affordable basic infrastructure, poor health, not owning assets, poor or no skills, exposure to labour market risks, and no social security.

She said rural women remained in a poverty trap and it was not only up to civil society to help break that poverty cycle.

"The challenges associated with these poverty trap factors make it a macro challenge and it cannot be left only to civil society and isolated interventions.

"Dealing with women's poverty is the biggest and most urgent business of developing states. It has to be mainstreamed. It needs massive macro and micro targeted socioeconomic interventions," she said.

She said initiatives such as micro-credit, co-operatives, adult education and youth development could help turn the tide for poor rural women.

Countries need to make critical choices at policy level on how to respond to women's needs.

[Comment] "Idol" not tone deaf to poverty

from The Seattle Times

E.J. Dionne / Syndicated columnist

WASHINGTON — Do you find it obnoxious when super-rich people in the music industry come forward to preen about their exquisitely sensitive social consciences?

Is there something worse than a multimillion-dollar televised entertainment operation patting itself on the back for weeks on end in celebration of its brilliantly inventive and groundbreaking approach to philanthropy?

Actually there is something worse: a total indifference to human suffering. If pampered stars and their corporate patrons have a hankering for public approval or — could it be? — a sense of authentic obligation, perhaps that behavior should be encouraged.

Those among the 30 million or so regular watchers of Fox's "American Idol" (yes, I confess I'm one) will know I'm referring to the "Idol Gives Back" spectacular that airs tonight and Wednesday to raise money for poor children in the U.S. and Africa.

Television has been used to raise money for good causes before. Jerry Lewis began his telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association way back in 1966. The "Idol" folks are keen on distinguishing their dazzling collection of stars from Lewis' ancient exertions, but old Jerry deserves some credit.

What marks a genuine cultural change is "Idol's" interest in poverty itself. The extravaganza is not just about collecting money for some good causes (America's Second Harvest, Save the Children, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNICEF, among others). The program will, in effect, be a sustained, two-night argument to "Idol's" viewers that they might have an obligation to do something about injustice and the pain of others. This is subversive.

Everyone involved in the "Idol" effort bristles at the idea that there is anything controversial about their project, and far be it from me to get in the way of their fundraising.

Randy Jackson, the "Idol" judge who hails from Baton Rouge and will appear on videos about American poverty, waxed eloquent about how important it is for "Idol" to shine "its huge spotlight on what's happening, especially in New Orleans." But he politely pushed back when I mentioned the P-word. The show is "not political at all" and "people think too much about what the issues are as opposed to going out and helping people."

Richard Curtis, the screenwriter for "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Love Actually" and in many ways the inspiration behind this week's broadcast, also walks away from anything that smacks of politics. Curtis pioneered "Red Nose Day" in Britain in the 1980s, which has raised nearly a billion dollars — and awareness of poverty.

Yet it's revealing that Curtis, who worked up the idea for "Idol Gives Back" with the show's creator, Simon Fuller, had his views on poverty shaped by the work of Bono, Bob Geldof and the success of the Live Aid concerts in 1985.

Red Nose Day has been successful, Curtis says, because it is seen as nonpartisan. But the power of the movement stems from the idea that help for the poor, which flows easily after disasters such as a famine or a tsunami, should not be on-again, off-again. Instead, he said, it should focus on "the day-to-day urgency of poverty," the "concept of long-term development" and on how the most basic things — "clean water, food, medicines" — are out of the reach of millions around the globe. That has implications.

Note also that this idea, like "American Idol" itself, is a British import. It reflects the culture that shaped Prime Minister Tony Blair. He in turn has transformed British conservatism at least as much as he's changed his own side. Support for an assault on poverty both at home and abroad is thus much further advanced across Britain's political spectrum. Imagine: Simon Cowell, "Idol's" know-it-all judge, has been complicit in this new British invasion of social consciousness.

I'd actually prefer to be completely caustic in writing about "American Idol." But Mark Shriver, vice president of Save the Children's U. S. programs that will benefit from the show, may be right in seeing "Idol" as taking "a huge risk" in focusing on poverty. One of the show's producers, Nigel Lythgoe, said of the honchos at Fox: "They weren't as positive as I think we were and slightly nervous. Anything that saves your network every year, you don't want to play around with."

Then again, as Curtis notes, "American Idol" is a show that encourages families to talk things over, so why shouldn't it "deal with issues that people should talk about?" Anyway, how much longer did we want to keep talking about Sanjaya?

E.J. Dionne's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is

Friday, April 20, 2007

Amartya Sen disputes poverty link to crime

from SABC

Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Laureate in economics, says it is not always the case that poverty causes violence, and that violence can also be caused by factors such as deprivation where people may seek revenge later.

The Harvard professor was speaking at the annual Nadine Gordimer lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand last night. He says political violence is the result of instigation and that emphasizing one political identity over the other is a problem.

Sen has helped shape thinking on global welfare and development economics, poverty, famine and democracy.

Tomorrow Sen will join a discussion at Wits with Gordimer, Trevor Manuel, the finance minister, and Edwin Cameron, a judge.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

U.S: Iraqi Immigrant's NGO Reaches Women Who Suffer War's Toll

from Radio Free Europe

By Heather Maher

Bosnia - Bosnian women in a Women For Women International writing workshop, undated
Bosnian women participating in a Women for Women International program

WASHINGTON, (RFE/RL) -- Zainab Salbi grew up in Iraq afraid of her own thoughts.

Salbi is the daughter of one of Saddam Hussein's private pilots, and her family lived in a fearful, silent environment where she was taught that the "wrong kind of thought" could lead to death or prison.

When she arrived in the United States at 23, it was through an arranged marriage that quickly turned abusive, but it was the first time she was able to read a newspaper and find out what was going on in the rest of the world.

It was 1993, and the news out of Bosnia-Herzegovina told of concentration camps and mass rapes of women prisoners. The accounts of atrocities triggered deep memories of her own wartime experience during the Iran-Iraq war.

"We really believe that there is no way that we can talk about building strong economies, strong democracies, strong societies without the full inclusion of strong women. And I really believe that strong women lead to strong nations," Women For Women International founder Salbi says.

A New Life

It was then that Salbi decided to start her life again. She divorced her abusive husband and began searching for a group to support her desire to help Balkan women affected by war.

Her search took her to a Washington D.C. church, where she worked in the basement with a stack of envelopes and a few donations. She began by sending a group of 32 women in Bosnia and Croatia a letter and $27 each month. She says she simply wanted them to know they were not alone.

Fourteen years later, her nonprofit group, Women For Women International, has distributed $30 million in aid and microcredit loans and has taught 93,000 women their rights and how to earn a living wage.

Through the group's sponsorship program, Salbi has connected thousands of women around the world with each other and, as she says, has enabled "them to take control of their resources and their voices and reach out to each other in this era of war."

Today, sitting in her sunny Washington office, surrounded by photos of joyful-looking women who have graduated from Women For Women trainings in eight war-ravaged countries in Africa and Europe, Salbi refuses to take credit and speaks of the need to address "the other side of war" -- the side that doesn't receive nearly as much attention as the bullets and bombs do.

"It ended up not being about one person, but about hundreds of thousands of people literally from all over the world who are joining in this effort and saying: 'Enough is enough. I'm going to reach out and help one woman stabilize her life,'" Salbi says. "Because if war is about two sides of the same coin, we only discuss one side of the coin, and that is the frontline discussion. And that's what men lead in the discussion -- the fighting and the troops and the bullets and all of that. And what we don't discuss in war is the 'backline' discussion, and that is what women [experience in] war, which is the impact on education and on health and on food and on all of these realities of life."

Zainab Salbi That's what Salbi says Women for Women International does: build peace by stabilizing women's lives. Her work is guided by the belief that strong women make strong societies.

"We teach them about women's rights and their role in the economy, and society, politics, and health, and we teach them vocational-skills training so they can actually get jobs, and they can earn a living and stand on their feet" she says. "And that's how we believe we can help women move from victims to survivors to active citizens."

Local Emphasis

All of the training staff is hired locally, because Salbi says she believes in the value of local knowledge. In Afghanistan, Women For Women has hired 60 local employees; in Kosovo and Iraq, about 50.

Before they decide to establish a training program, staff members introduce themselves to the leaders of a community -- the chief, mayor, or cleric -- to tell them what they're planning, explain the logic behind it, and obtain their cooperation.

Then they assess the needs of the community -- what are the biggest concerns. Clean water? Safe schools? Domestic violence? And what services are needed? Beauty salons? Shoemakers? Tailors?

House-to-house visits follow to choose 20 women at a time who will receive a year of sponsorship and training. Each woman is matched with a "sister" in the West -- usually Britain or the United States -- who makes a monthly financial contribution toward a stipend for the woman -- usually around $15. The women also exchange letters and photos, and Salbi says that the emotional support is as important as the training course.

At the end of the year, the women graduate and can receive microcredit loans to start their own business or, alternatively, receive help finding employment or selling their products internationally -- whatever it takes to help them improve their lives.

"We're saying this is not only for women's sake," Salbi says. "Usually, women are the majority of the population in post-conflict [areas]. So it's also for societal sake. Because we really believe that there is no way that we can talk about building strong economies, strong democracies, strong societies without the full inclusion of strong women. And I really believe that strong women lead to strong nations. So the reason we're investing in women is for pragmatic reasons, as well as ideological reasons."

No End In Sight

Salbi points out that there have been 250 major wars since the end of World War II, producing 23 million casualties, 90 percent of whom are civilians. Three-quarters of those are women and children and the elderly. Peace, she believes, is as much about clean water, electricity, and medical clinics as it is about cease-fires and treaties.

"When we talk about peace, it can't be limited only to the frontline discussion," Salbi says. "Peace is not only the signing of a peace agreement. It needs also to mean the stabilization of people's lives and the improvement of people's lives."

Salbi makes frequent visits to the countries where Women For Women operates programs. She remembers a woman in Rwanda whose seven children were massacred and left to die on top of her -- she herself survived after being left for dead. When Salbi met her, the woman had adopted five orphans, given birth to a baby conceived from a rape, and was successfully farming a plot of land that enabled her to send her adopted children to school.

Another woman Salbi says she can't forget was an internally displaced person in Bosnia whose husband was handicapped from years of torture in a concentration camp. When Women For Women found her, she was sleeping on a piece cardboard. After going through a training course, she started a small dairy and had earned enough to buy a home, send her son to school, and care for her husband.

"I really believe war is like a flashlight on humanity," Salbi says. "It shows us the worst of it, and it shows us the best of it. And part of the success for me comes from the best of humanity. Because every time I go and visit women in Bosnia or in Iraq or in Afghanistan or the Congo or other countries, I am in awe of the strength of these women, and the strength of humanity, and the beauty of humanity -- as much as I am in awe of its ugliness."

As much as Salbi loves her work, she says she would love to see a day when there is no more work for her to do.

"I always say the day we run out of "business" would be a very good day," she says. "We only work with women survivors of wars. There are 39 wars going on at the moment, and I can't wait to live in a world that doesn't have wars."

Bidvest helps to fight poverty

from I Africa Business

In an initiative designed to dovetail government's strategy of combating poverty through economic growth, a unique partnership between Bidvest and ORT, the SA Public Benefit Organisation, was launched on Thursday.

Bidvest chief executive, Brian Joffe, announced a R3.7-million commitment over four years to the educational and community support work of the non-profit organisation.

Starting in the township

The primary beneficiaries will be all the primary schools in Alexandra Township, where all foundation phase educators will receive training and classroom-based support in Foundation phase maths, science and technology. The Educator Empowerment programme aims to improve the quality of MST in a community whose schools have been chronically under-resourced.

Shortcomings in MST tuition have been identified as a key constraint to skills development and sustained economic growth.

Bidvest, the listed services, trading and distribution group, recently received one of the 11 inaugural Unity Awards for combining the growth of shareholder value with social progress in categories such as job creation and training.

Growth to drive employment

Cyril Ramaphosa said that, "Bidvest is living proof that growth creates wealth, jobs and opportunity. We are therefore committed supporters of government's drive for six percent GDP growth as a means of creating employment and combating poverty."

"Our corporate social investments already focus on community support and educational needs, but we decided even more had to be done to spotlight the vital importance of the private sector partnering with government to tackle structural constraints such as limited MST capacity,” added Brian Joffe.

Providing the tools

"It is a core Bidvest belief that companies report growth; people create it. But our youth cannot realise their full potential unless we give them the right tools — starting with a firm educational base in MST.

"We also believe in the need for consistency and long-term commitment rather than stop-start planning and implementation, which is why we are announcing a four-year involvement with our experienced, results-focused partners at ORT SA."

The programme is endorsed by the Department of Education.

Internationally, ORT has been involved in community upliftment, educational assistance and vocational training for more than 70 years. Its work in South Africa is chiefly focused on support for previously disadvantaged families and communities.

The ORT SA effort in Alexandra targets 12 local primary schools. Each will benefit from training in maths, science and technology. This classroom-based support will be provided in the academic years from 2007 to 2010.

In year one, ORT SA teams in collaboration with local educators will assess literacy and numeracy levels and set goals for improvement.

In August 2007, training and planning for integration of new resources for 2008 for grade one will begin.

The Bidvest initiative builds on successes achieved by ORT SA and the Department of Education in 2004/05 when 75 Foundation Phase educators were trained in science and technology in Alexandra. The knock-on effect was an improvement in the education of 10 440 township pupils.

Free-trade agreement gets year-end deadline

from The Boston Globe

By Associated Press

GENEVA -- The final "window of opportunity" for a global free trade deal might have just slammed shut, according to analysts closely watching the World Trade Organization negotiations.

Having already missed countless deadlines in six years, top trading powers have now set themselves a year-end date for completing the Doha round of talks aimed at adding billions of dollars to the global economy and lifting millions of people worldwide out of poverty.

But for analysts, the most significant result of last week's meeting of the WTO's six most powerful members in New Delhi was how little attention was paid to a much more serious deadline only weeks away -- the expiration of President Bush's authority to send trade deals to Congress for a simple yes-or-note vote without amendments.

"Whatever sense of urgency that might have been perceived by negotiators has now been dispensed with," said Sandra Polaski of the Carnegie Endowment in Washington.

"It seems like they just breezed by that June 30 deadline. There is no evidence that there is any political will to get this done."

Madonna Aims to be 'Female Bono' in Campaign Against Poverty

from Christian today

Pop star Madonna will boost her image as a serious campaigner against child poverty, as she plans to make a film out of the documentary footage she’s been shooting in Malawi.

by Gretta Curtis

Pop star Madonna will boost her image as a serious campaigner against child poverty, as she plans to make a film out of the documentary footage she’s been shooting in Malawi.

Titled Raising Malawi after the charity she founded in the country, the film will include footage of the orphanage from where she adopted her son David and interviews with key political figures in the fight against poverty, such as Nelson Mandela.

A source told the Sun: “She has poured her heart and soul into this movie and believes it will have the same effect on the world as the Live Aid concerts.”

“Madonna wants to dedicate the rest of her life to helping children. She desperately wants to become the female Bono and be taken as seriously as him. Her days of being the Material Girl are gone.”

Bono is not the only role model for the pop queen. In February, Madonna encouraged everyone to ‘be like Jesus.’

“Jesus' message was to love your neighbour as yourself, and there are people in need. I hope that people got that message," Madonna said.

She further stated that she wants "to be like Gandhi and Martin Luther King and John Lennon.”

Madonna is currently in Malawi to oversee the work being carried out by the Raising Malawi group but she is rumoured to also be looking into adopting another child, according to her spokesperson.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to address poverty in South Africa talk

from Earth Times

Johannesburg - Nobel Economics laureate Amartya Sen is to address issues of poverty, social justice, ethics and morality in the Nadime Gordimer lecture which he is set to deliver later Wednesday in Johannesburg. The Indian-born Harvard University professor was invited by Nobel-winning novelist Gordimer to deliver the lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Gordimer described Sen as one of her "great heroes" at a meeting at her Johannesburg home Tuesday.

Sen won the Nobel Prize in 1998 for his contribution to development economics. His main focus, he says, is "how people can earn a decent income."

The importance of basic education and healthcare as the basis for prosperity is a key theme in the 73-year-old academic's work, which is often quoted by South African President Thabo Mbeki and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, according to the Sunday Times newspaper.

Sen told the paper in a weekend interview he thought Manuel was doing an "excellent job."

South Africa had had its "ups and downs," he said, but the government's "analysis of the problem" of poverty could not be faulted.

The Nadine Gordimer lecture was founded in 2004 to honour the contribution of the 1991 Nobel literature prize winner and author of such novels as The Conservationist and July's People to South African intellectual life and letters.

The first lecture in 2004 was delivered by American author and activist Susan Sontag and the second in 2006 by Mexican literary historian and essayist Carlos Fuentes.

Martin Narey attacks government’s “dishonest” child poverty pledge

from Community Care

The government’s pledge to eradicate child poverty in the UK by 2020 is “dishonest” and not backed by any strategy, Martin Narey, chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s warned last night.

The former head of the prison service hit out at political parties’ “meaningless” commitment to the target and accused the government of complacency.

“There is no escaping an impression that the government believe they have done enough. Or at least that doing any more is too difficult and too expensive,” Narey, who chairs the campaign group End Child Poverty said. “The reality is that progress has faltered. The number of children living in poverty has stopped falling and has now begun to rise again.”

In the speech to the Public Policy and Management Association in London, Narey also said the numbers of children in prison was “shameful” and attacked the “corrosive short termism” of political decision-making in the Home Office.

He also called for better support for asylum-seeking children and children in care.

Students speak about poverty in Dallas

from The SMU Daily Campus

By: Gillian McWhirt, Contributing Writer,

Students for a Better Society (SBS) and Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility, and Citizenship (SPARC) united Wednesday at to promote poverty awareness. The organization provided information to students with a booth at the Flagpole.

The SBS Social Issues committee sponsored the event.

"Most people at SMU are not aware of the poverty rates in Dallas," Social Issues chair Vivian Constandy said. "Having a booth like this is important because this is not information that people seek out on their own, but everyone should be aware and know the realities of poverty surrounding SMU."

SBS was formed in the spring of 2005 by senior Michelle Wigianto. This organization allows students to come together and address many issues such as human rights and the environment.

Members of SBS and SPARC came together and passed out fliers, speaking about poverty in Dallas and Texas. They also had a map pointing out the percentage of people in the Dallas area living below the poverty line.

The map showed that 30 percent of the people in Oakcliff, 50 percent in West Dallas, 40 percent in East Dallas, 6 percent in University Park and 3 percent in Highland Park live below the poverty line. SBS and SPARC want to make people aware of these figures and to encourage them to get involved and help make a difference in their community.

"SMU and its students have a unique opportunity to address issues such as poverty that are surrounding our community," Michelle Wigianto said. "People should be educated on these issues and then able to act on them."

The members of SBS and SPARC want to make people aware of problems that are happening in the Dallas community.

These two groups want people to know it doesn't take a lot of time or work to make a difference in the community. Members of the organizations say that making people aware is the first step, and acting out to fix the problem is the second.

Students who wish to become involved in Students for a Better Society or Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility, and Citizenship can go online at or for more information.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Interfaith group criticizes Ont.'s poverty record

from CTV

Ontario's government is facing criticism for its treatment of poor residents in a report being released by an interfaith group on Wednesday.

The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) is releasing a report entitled, "Lives Still in the Balance." In their report, the coalition says the government's record "could only be described as disappointing," The Globe and Mail said.

The report says Ontario's government "has not fulfilled expectations" that it would help the province's poorest citizens.

The ISARC was formed in 1986 when Ontario's former Liberal government started a review of social assistance. To help, the government went looking for input from religious groups.

On their website, the ISARC says it sees "a vast gulf between the values which motivate it and the attitudes and policies regarding low-income people in Ontario during the past few years."

Wednesday's report says welfare rates were raised by five per cent, but that is not enough to make up for a decade when rates were frozen, The Globe said.

The report also notes that the recent minimum wage hike to $8 an hour is not enough to end poverty for tens of thousands of workers, especially considering that the rate was also frozen for a decade.

The coalition also claims that government has built - or is building - only 6,724 of the 20,000 affordable housing units it pledged to build.

Immigration has hurt anti-poverty strategy, says minister

from The Earth Times

LONDON - UK immigration minister Liam Byrne has admitted that record immigration into the country has "deeply unsettled" society. In a pamphlet designed for the Policy Network think tank, Mr Byrne said migrants had undermined efforts of the Labour government to eradicate child poverty.

"The political risk for any government is that if you fail to solve this paradox you could lose your job," he wrote, adding that migration has to be in the national interest. Mr Byrne is due to release a new points-based system that intends to restrict immigration of those people whose skills are in demand in the UK. This system may start from the new year.

Writing that child poverty and inequality were rife because of record number of migrants, Mr Byrne said schools were suffering because it was hard to increase the standard where majority of students had English as a second language.

"It is true that a small number of schools have struggled to cope, that some local authorities have reported problems of overcrowding in private housing and that there have been cost pressures on English language training, but the answer is in action that is simultaneously firm and fair," he pointed out.

Mr Byrne also disputes claims that the immigration debate is all media driven. ''During the 1990s, the UK did change from being a country of net emigration to being one of net immigration - 2.4 million people left Britain and 3.4 million came in," he wrote.

His claims will be substantiated by Office for National Statistics data, which is due to show that the number of migrants increased to 200,000 in 2005, at least four times more than when Labour assumed power in 1997.

39% of Bulgarians Below the Poverty Threshold

from International News Bulgaria

388 BGN (190 EUR) is the support money per person in a 4 member family in the first 3 months of 2007. 1552 BGN (760 BGN) is the necessary monthly sum for a family with two kids for their major needs.

Unfortunately just 1/4 of the Bulgarian households dispose of this earnings, which includes the hidden incomes.

Bulgarians spend mostly for food and maintenance of their homes.

In the first 3 months of this year is notices increase of prices of main food products like: bread, milk, rice, flour, cheese.

The calculated support money for a kid is round 150 BGN (75 EUR). The allowance for children between 14 and 18 years-old goes to 360 BGN (180 EUR).

Poverty limit is 153 BGN (75 EUR) and round 39% of the Bulgarians stand below the poverty threshold.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More than 3M Filipinos out of extreme poverty by end of 2007: commission

from The Sun Star

THE National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) on Tuesday called as “misleading and outdated” a newspaper report that cited a World Bank (WB) study which said that 15 million Filipinos live on one dollar a day.

The NAPC, in a statement, said “last year, in fact, the World Bank, in a publication entitled East Asia Update: Managing Through a Global Downturn estimated that 13.5 percent of or 10.5 million Filipinos had incomes lower than US$1 dollar a day in 2000 and estimated that extreme poverty in the country will fall below 10 percent for the first time in 2006, down by half from the 1990 level. It is forecasted to fall further to 8.4 percent by the end of 2007, a decline of more than 3 million people lifted out of extreme poverty in the Arroyo administration.”

“Thus, the figures referred to by Philippine Daily Inquirer might be those of 1990 figures since the same publication reports such estimate (19.1 percent) for the same period. What is grossly misleading about this article is that to the lay person, this may seem to imply that 19 percent of Filipinos in 2000 had incomes less than around 50 pesos,” the NAPC also said.

Moreover, in terms of two-dollar-a-day (PPP) poverty rates, the NAPC said the newspaper mentioned that 47.2 percent of or 36million Filipinos were poor in 2000 and forecasts a level of 39.3 percent (33.4 million Filipinos) by the end of 2006.

Aside from providing outdated data, the NAPC said the article may further mislead the public into thinking that the poverty thresholds used by the (WB) are in US dollar terms. International organizations such as the WB and the UN use the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) dollar as their value and not the US dollar.

The NAPC said as the WB defines it, "PPP conversion factors take into account differences in the relative prices of goods and services” and is measured in current international dollars which, in principal, have the same purchasing power as a dollar spent in the US economy. Because PPPs provide a better measure of the standard of living of residents of an economy, they are the basis for the World Bank's calculations of poverty rates at US$1 and US$2 a day."

Living on the Edge: How Christians Against Poverty Pulled One Man Back from the Brink

from Christian Today

Father of two, with a lovely wife. So how did a few debts drive Clayton Pring to the edge of life? Words: Sarah Chapman of Christians Against Poverty; Photos: Claire Kempster

“I just couldn’t see any way out of it,” says Clayton Pring, staring at the murky water swirling below him.

“If nobody could help me, what else could I do?” he asks, thinking back to the day he nearly drove his car off Loughour Bridge, just outside his home town of Llanelli, South Wales.

“I thought it would be better for my family if I wasn’t there. There’d be no arguments. They wouldn’t have all the worries anymore.”

Like many people facing mounting debts, Clayton, 31, was desperate. For him, the only escape was suicide.

Give him some credit

The slide into debt had started gently enough. “I was working in Walkers Crisps’ factory in Swansea,” says Clayton. “I was on the minimum wage: £4.25 an hour. But because I was working through an agency, the work wasn’t very regular. Sometimes I’d only bring home £70 a week, which wasn’t really enough to make ends meet for the family.”

Help was at hand with instant credit. “I had cards from my bank and my wife Sally’s bank and they offered quite a lot of money,” he remembers. “I was desperate to pay our bills, but on my wages I just couldn’t do it.”

In the end, he stacked everything on credit – rent, gas, electricity, clothes from catalogues for his two daughters, Lydia, 6, and Lucy, 2.

Spiralling down

There was a brief ray of hope when Clayton got a new job with a mobile phone company.

“I was earning twice or three times as much as I was with Walkers, and I started to pay a bit off my debts.” He smiles ruefully: “I thought I could handle it, you know.”

But suddenly the business went bankrupt. “I found myself without any money for two or three weeks and it all just went back to square one.”

A dark cloud of depression descended.

“I felt angry, frustrated, annoyed with myself. I’d failed my family,” explains Clayton. “I was still working hard, trying to get out of the situation. But because of the interest rates and charges – and because I was using one credit card to pay another – I couldn’t see any way out at all.”

Family tensions

He started dreading the post and the calls from companies he owed money to.

“The phone rang all day,” says Clayton. “And to have it ringing all evening as well – when we were trying to relax or put the kids to bed – caused arguments between Sally and me.”

“We were shouting at the kids, shouting at each other,” agrees Sally. “We were just getting at each other all the time. We couldn’t find a way out.

“Then an argument would start,” he continues. “And when you start arguing, you can’t stop. Things get out of hand and you feel that the marriage isn’t working. To be honest, it’s hard to love someone when you’re in that much debt. It affects everything.”

“When you’re using all your money to pay off your debts and you haven’t got any food on the table, or the fridge is always empty…,” Clayton looks away, takes a deep breath: “Because you want the best for your children and you see that they’re not getting the best, it does affect you. It hurts.”

“Being in debt is like being buried in concrete. Everything is on top of you. You can’t climb out.”

On the edge

And so he found himself on Loughour Bridge.

“I suddenly thought, ‘How am I going to pay this? How am I going to pay that?’” remembers Clayton. “You just think how easy it would be to end it all. You wouldn’t have all the worries.

“The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had children to think about and a family. It was love that was holding me back.”

Helping hand

Clayton’s face lights up when he talks about bumping into an old friend, Byron, soon afterwards. Byron mentioned he was working for his local church as a Christians Against Poverty debt counsellor.

“He said that CAP helped people for free and it didn’t matter how much debt they’re in,” Clayton grins. “I remember saying, ‘Perhaps you could help us – I’ve got one or two debts.’

“Byron didn’t know the extent of our problem until he came to our house to go through things. That’s when I told him the full story and the effect it was having on us as a family.”

Byron sat down with Clayton and Sally and together they went through everything that the couple owed.

“When you’ve got a lot of problems and you actually talk to someone about it, it’s a huge weight off your shoulders,” Clayton smiles. “You get it all out. You cry a lot.

“Byron was really helpful,” he adds. “He was sympathetic, and very, very knowledgeable. He knew what he was talking about.

“I’d tried to get help from debt management companies, but you can’t go to them and cry on their shoulder. You just tell them how much debt you’re in. And they couldn’t help us with that either.

“That’s why I like CAP. They’re there for emotional help as well as financial help. They counsel you through the bad times.”

Rescue plan

A week later, Byron came back with a financial statement, giving the couple a reasonable monthly budget and an affordable repayment plan.

“He’d taken all of our bills, rent, council tax, gas, electricity, everything into consideration,” explains Clayton. “We would pay one monthly payment to CAP, including the money that would pay off our debts, and they’d send it to the right people.

“With our financial plan, everything is laid out in sections,” says Clayton. “You get a section for your debts and one for family and living. You get an allowance for clothing, food and emergencies – even a little bit for leisure.

“You can see how much you’ve got to spend every week. We’ve even started saving a little bit as well.

“It is tight,” Clayton says. “But if you stick to the budget, you haven’t got anything to worry about. And if you’re finding things hard, you can speak to your debt counsellor. They’re always looking out for you.”

Transforming love

Beginning the journey to being debt-free has had a profound effect on family life, says Clayton.

“After being under so much pressure with our marriage, after putting all our cards on the table and saying, ‘Yes, we’re going to get through this,’ we could concentrate more on our relationship,” he explains.

“We can concentrate on loving the children, loving each other. I spend more time thinking about my wife’s needs rather than the needs of the people I owe money to. Home has become a much happier place.

“We didn’t have to worry about the phone calls any more,” he adds. “If creditors did ring, I knew I could say, ‘You have to deal with my debt counsellor, speak to him.’ And the calls slowly stopped coming.”

Sally comes in from the kitchen, where Lucy has been enjoying her lunch of pasta and sausages.

“I was relieved that finally help was here,” she smiles. “Now we’ve got food in the cupboard and we can eat a bit more healthily. Before CAP, we were just living on sandwiches.”

Discovering God

But there was one big change still to come for the Pring family.

“I’ve always believed there was a God,” says Clayton. “I’ve kept my little red Gideon Bible from school, never thrown it away. God has been at the back of my mind but I’ve chosen to ignore Him I think.

“Me and my wife wanted to know more about being a Christian,” he continues. “When we had a chat with Byron, it sort of hit home.

“I could focus on it because I didn’t have all those debt worries to worry about. I was trying to reach God and Byron was the catalyst that made everything happen.”

Hope for the future

Clayton grins when he remembers the day he became a Christian: “It felt like when you’re a child, when you come down Christmas morning and you see all the presents.

“Now I look forward to going to church every Sunday because I know it will have a profound effect on my week.

“We haven’t got the best of everything, but being a Christian makes me feel that I don’t care really. We’ve got clothes, a roof over our head, the children have got a few toys – that’s the main thing.”

Sally smiles at Clayton. “We gave God our life,” she says, “because we thought there was no way out, then God showed us one – through CAP and the church.

“Once we get out of debt, we won’t get into it again, because we’ve got God to show us the way.”

Article and images kindly supplied by Christians Against Poverty, a UK debt counselling charity. For more information on the work of Christians Against Poverty please visit or phone 01274 760 720.

Speaker confronts poverty

from The Daily Tar Heel

By: Melissa Brown, Staff Writer

People who gathered in the Hanes Art Center Auditorium on Monday night sat in silence.

"We spend over $100 million a year on beer in the United States," said human rights activist and speaker Kimmie Weeks, "But we can't pay the $12 million it would take to feed people around the world."

Weeks, who was the keynote speaker for the Campus Y's Human Rights Week, spoke Monday night about ending global poverty to a crowd of about 100 students and community members.

He left many audience members shocked with descriptions of his life as a refugee and with his knowledge of poverty.

Though he graduated from Amherst College, the 25-year-old once lived in Liberia in a refugee camp.

Weeks said he never knew hunger or pain until he was 10 years old when Liberia was struck with war. He was kicked out of his home and forced to walk to the camp where he lived for six months.

"I've seen stuff. I know what it feels like to be hungry and sick and feel like the world turned its back on you," he said. "I know what it's like to be left to die."

The 10-year-old Weeks nearly died of starvation and illness at the camp.

He spoke passionately Monday about this period in his life, his voice often choking up, and the audience remained captivated by his words throughout the speech.

"I put on my television and hope that someone will be talking about some of these things," Weeks said. "I turn on CNN and they're talking about Paris Hilton losing her chihuahua."

But even though Weeks barely made it out of the camp alive, he said he can't imagine the horrors of what children today live through every day.

"I went on a trip to Uganda and saw children younger than two years old begging on the streets," he said. "And some young girls see prostitution as their way out."

Weeks came to UNC through funding by Campus Y, student government and the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, among others.

Junior Lindsey Witmer, who was in the audience, said she is starting a microfinance nonprofit organization next year.

"I like to hear people doing things to see that it's possible, rather than being discouraged by failure," she said.

Weeks spoke frequently of failure as well.

He said that so many people come up with ideas that could change the world and don't try to implement them because they're afraid of failure or time constraints.

He challenged every member of the audience to find a way to donate a dollar to poorer countries and to become aware of policies being made about poverty.

"Let's not walk out the door and go do something usual - find a way to become a part of a global movement," Weeks said.

"Let's not be the generation of video games, but the generation that truly makes a change."

U.N., world financial officials say disorganization, disagreement hinder relief of global poverty

from The International Herald Tribune

UNITED NATIONS: Disagreement and disorganization among the world's richest nations are hampering efforts to relieve poverty and desperation in the poorest countries, U.N. and international financial officials said Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon told officials from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization that rich nations were coming up short in promises of increased aid to developing countries, which fell more than five percent last year.

And, he said, the process of distributing assistance is "unnecessarily complicated, fragmented and poorly coordinated."

"All too often, aid is driven more by politics than by need, undermining its effectiveness," Ban told the U.N. Economic and Social Council's annual meeting with the international financial organizations and the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development.

Ban and other speakers offered progress reports on the Monterrey Consensus — a 2002 international agreement on alleviating poverty and related problems — and the U.N.'s Millenium Development Goals, which call on governments to cut extreme poverty by half, stop the spread of AIDS, ensure universal primary education, and expand access for the poor to clean water, all by 2015.

Alejandro M. Werner, deputy chairman of the IMF and World Bank's Development Committee, which advises the two bodies on international aid issues, said a strong global economy was helping reduce poverty, the first of the millenium goals.

But he cited "mixed results" in other goals, such as getting more children to school and reducing child mortality, malnutrition and deaths in childbirth.

Werner said the committee felt that increasing gender equality and giving women greater control of their lives around the world were key to achieving all aspects of the millenium goals.

Valentine Rugwabiza, deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization, urged progress on the Doha round of negotiations to liberalize global commerce, which she called key to improving life in poorer nations.

The talks at the WTO, named after the capital of Qatar where negotiations began in 2001, have been stalled since last July over rich nations' refusal to significantly cut farm subsidies, and by the reluctance of developing nations to grant greater access to their markets.

Top trade representatives from the United States, European Union, Brazil, India Australia and Japan have proposed a new year-end deadline to complete negotiations.

Failure of the negotiations, "would mean that developing countries lose a once-in-a-generation opportunity to open world markets for their exports," she said. "Time is running out."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Gambila raps Upper Easterners WE ARE NOT POOR!

from The Ghanaian Chronicle

… Implores media to redirect the poverty-stricken thinking of the people

From Clement Boateng, Bolgatanga.

THE UPPER East Regional Minister, Boniface Gambila, who fervidly disagrees with both intellectual and non-academic declarations that his region is the poorest, has asked the people to stop taking pride in singing the forlorn song that “we are poor.”

The Minister, who said this at the first ever Easter dinner buffet organized by the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) for the members of the Regional Security Council Committee (REGSEC) and the media, believed that the poverty-stricken mindset of the people configured years ago ought to be reconfigured, but this time, with positive thinking and declarations.

He therefore implored the media to stop reinforcing the message of “we are poor” being chanted by some people in the region and help to redirect the poverty-stricken thinking of the people in the region through their reportage and programmes.

Though the minister admitted that the region was deprived, he did not believe that deprivation constituted poverty and asked the people of the region to identify the source of their deprivation so that together they could find a solution to it.

“I understand that we are deprived but we are not poor; don’t use academic definitions to say that we are poor”, he said, “so let the people understand that they are not poor but they are rather refusing to transform”, he tasked the media.

Mr. Gambila indicated that the region was endowed with both human and other resources but the people had failed to harness the resources to transform the region for their own good, noting that others were perceived as rich because they had been able to exploit and harness their resources to develop their Regions.

In the area of media coverage, he commended the media personnel in the region for their cooperation since his assumption of office but complained of lateness to functions on the part of some of the media houses.

He also observed that much had not been done with rural reporting which could serve as a strong ladder between the rural folks and the government as well as other development partners.

This, he explained, could be realized as the media continually highlights the plight of the rural folks to the government and other development partners and in turn educates them on available opportunities and government policies.

Mr. Gambila urged the media, REGSEC and the RCC to work collectively as a team while they employ their various unique expertise to advance the development course of the region, bearing in mind the national goal of alleviating poverty.

In his remarks, the Upper East Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr. Mohammed Nurudeen Issahaq, who is also the Regional Manager of Ghana News Agency (GNA), noted that government-media relations had seen much improvement in the country, which could be seen in the goodwill and rapport between the executive and the media.

Expressing concern about the mushrooming of media organizations in the country, Mr. Issahaq observed that the phenomenal improvement of the media landscape was both an advantage and a challenge.

He said it could be seen as an advantage especially in advancing the country’s democratic culture but a challenge in the sense that multiplicity of media organizations comes with variety of media personnel, some of whom might not have the requisite training.

He reminded the media personnel that they have a responsibility to the society, and appealed to them not to dwell on trivialities but rather focus on the development course of the region by highlighting the plight of the people and the development inequalities so that the powers that be, could come to their aid.

The GJA chairman expressed gratitude to the RCC for supporting the media in discharging their duties over the years.

Mr. Samuel N’laari, the Chief Director of the Regional Coordinating Council, called on the GJA to organize seminars that could bring together both the senior and young members of the association to exchange experiences to prevent the unethical conduct of some up and coming journalists that drags the name of the profession in the mud.

Poverty fight could be part of business plan

from The Guernsey Press

by Nick Mann

CENTRAL funding could be used to rejuvenate the fight against poverty.

Progress on the Corporate Anti-Poverty Programme has been disappointing recently, according to social policy steering group chairman Peter Roffey.

It has discussed the idea of changing the way it is funded with Treasury and Resources.

‘I think what’s needed is a degree of funding for the Capp which isn’t given to the department, but given centrally for this overarching desire to reduce poverty,’ said Deputy Roffey.

‘That model already exists, the drug and alcohol strategy has some central funding. The advantage is it only gets spent on that.’

The group he chairs acts only as a coordinating body for the battle against poverty. ‘There’s nothing we can do to force departments to implement the various parts of the plan.’

‘With budgets being constrained, they are having to juggle it with other priorities and it doesn’t necessarily come out on top.’

A report is being compiled with an update on progress on the programme for States members and the public. It should be published soon.

Deputy Roffey admitted that progress was less than he would have liked to have seen.
He expects that Capp will eventually be subsumed into the Government Business Plan.
‘The advantage of the plan is there are significant proposals relating to the redistribution of wealth,’ he said.

‘If passed, that’s a specific instruction of the States that they want things done. The onus would be on department to achieve that or explain to the States why not.’

Habitat Week raises awareness of Athens' poverty

from The Red and the Black


This weekend temperatures dropped again, and many didn't go out because of the thunderstorms. While students enjoyed warmth inside, there were many in Athens who do not have that luxury.

Habitat for Humanity is having their annual Act! Speak! Build! Week until Saturday with various events aimed at making students aware of their mission to build houses and increase awareness of poverty and homelessness.


Monday - Discussion Panel
When: 6 tonight
Where: SLC 248
Price: Free
Wednesday - Habifest Night
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Memorial Hall room 407 and Tate Plaza
Price: $15 (includes dinner, breakfast, T-shirt)
Thursday - Letter Writing Campaign
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Tate Plaza
Price: Free
"[It] is a worldwide, student-initiated advocacy event for affordable housing," said Ashley Doliber, Vice President of Public Relations for UGA Habitat for Humanity and a sophomore from Savannah.

The week of events came from a realization that Habitat's mission was not clearly expressed to students, said Doliber. The activities aim to help students understand what Habitat does and why.

"The whole Act! Speak! Build! Week experience is amazing because it gives you a new perspective about poverty and its impact," said Seychelle Vos, a sophomore from Clemson, S.C., who helped organize Habifest.

There is a divide between life as a student in Athens and residents who are impoverished. Athens-Clarke County consistently ranks high in studies on poverty levels. The poverty rate is 28.3 percent, which means over 26,000 residents living in poverty, according to data compiled by Partners for a Prosperous Athens.

"Athens is a poor city and we often don't realize it while we are stuck in our little University world," said Vos.

Today, Habitat will host a discussion panel about the University's impact on poverty in Athens. Panelists will discuss the impact, both positive and negative, the University has on poverty in Athens, Doliber said.

Tuesday, the group will distribute ribbons on campus for students to show their support for the cause.

One of the biggest events is Habifest Night on Wednesday.

The night starts with a poverty banquet. Then, participants make their own cardboard houses and create a shanty town on Tate Plaza. There will be a scavenger hunt and a luminary vigil ceremony. Improv comedy troupe Ice Cream Socialists will provide entertainment.

Participants will experience what it is like to sleep outdoors in a makeshift home. Unlike actual homeless people, they will be entertained and fed and have the option of going home if it gets to be too much.

"The money is not the main concern in this event," said Vos. "The event was always an advocacy event. We hope to give people a first hand experience with what poverty feels like and possibly encourage them to find ways to help out in the community."

Thursday, UGA Habitat will set up tables in Tate Plaza for students to help with their letter writing campaign. These are to advocate affordable housing to legislators.

Poverty Awareness Week starts today with comedy

from The Wildcat Online

By: Andrea Lerch

Despite a lackluster response from state legislators, Campaign Against Poverty organizers hope to generate awareness of world poverty among Arizonans.

The campaign is kicking off its first Poverty Awareness Week today to raise money for the people of Darfur, according to event officials.

The first big event will be a comedy show in Gallagher Theater tonight at 8. The week ends Thursday night with a benefit dinner and guest speakers, said Deema Tabbara, a political science senior and founder and president of the campaign.

But of the 90 legislators Tabbara contacted in her quest to find a speaker for the benefit dinner, only one responded.

Arizona Rep. David Bradley, D-Tucson, will be speaking at the benefit dinner Thursday from 7-9 p.m. in the North Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center. Some of Bradley's main platforms concern poverty and violence.

Tabbara said she will not let the tepid response from state representatives deter her.

"I was told trying to raise money without a big-name celebrity would not work," Tabbara said. "We are trying to prove that we can raise money because people actually care about the cause."

The campaign members will be on the UA Mall today preselling tickets to the "Laugh for a Cause" comedy show, which costs $5. Tickets can also be purchased at the door, and all of the proceeds will be donated to helping the people of Darfur, a region in Sudan currently wracked by genocide.

"Poverty Awareness Week will focus on global poverty in general, but we chose to donate all the money we make to Darfur because they are the most in need right now," Tabbara said.

Brian Neufang and Johnny Svarzbein, both UA graduates, and Dan Goff will perform comedy tonight, along with The Charles Darwin Experience, a UA comedy club that performs in The Cellar in the SUMC every Tuesday at 10:15 p.m.

"They are all doing this for free," Tabbara said. "It was really nice of them."

The campaign will also have global poverty awareness information and the One Campaign Declaration for people to sign on the UA Mall today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The One Campaign is a global campaign to fight poverty and global AIDS.

"Some of the Lost Boys of Sudan are also coming to give some perspective of what it is like to be a refugee," Tabbara said.

The dinner is $30 for students with a CatCard and $50 for general admission. Proceeds will also go to

Tabbara said club members have been planning this week since February.

"I wanted to do this because the UA has never had a poverty week before, and a lot of other campuses around the country have done it," Tabbara said. "I really hope it's something that continues in the future years."

Starting next week, Campaign Against Poverty will also be starting a book drive for the organization Books for Africa. Bins will be placed around campus, and anyone can donate new or used books that will be sent directly to Sudan.

Dinner seats are still available. For more information on purchasing tickets, visit

Global poverty rates continue to fall: Report

from Zee News

Washington, April 16: Global poverty rates have continued to fall in the first four years of the 21st century according to new estimates published in the World Development Indicators 2007 with the proportion of people living on less than USD 1 a day falling to 18.4 per cent in 2004, leaving an estimated 985 million people living in extreme poverty.

India's share of poorest quintile in national consumption is placed at 8.9 per cent between 1993 and 2005 with underweight percentage of children under the age of five placed at 53 per cent between 1990 and 1995 with statistics unavailable for 2005.

The total number of extreme poor across the globe was 1.25 billion in 1990. Two-dollar-a-day poverty rates are falling too, but an estimated 2.6 billion people, almost half the population of the developing world, were still living below that level in 2004.

The development indicators for 2007 have sought to highlight the progress that has been made - or lack thereof - in such areas as poverty and hunger, primary education, infant mortality, gender equality and maternal health. The comparisons have been drawn between 1990 and 1995 to between 2000 and 2005.

But in the real of achieving universal primary education, India has jumped from 68 per cent in 1991 in primary completion rate to 89 per cent in 2005 and in the promotion of gender equality from 69 per cent in 1991 to 87 per cent in 2005. Gender equality is measured in the ratio of male to female enrollments in primary and secondary schools.

Activists follow MP in 'live more simply' poverty pledge

from Ekklesia

Hndreds of people have already followed the example of Leeds West MP John Battle, a committed Catholic who has been the prime minister's 'faith tsar' and is a former director of Church Action on Poverty (CAP), in agreeing to give 1 per cent their income through CAFOD to fight global poverty.

The Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) is an agency of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. It is one of the major UK relief, development and advocacy agencies.

Mr Battle, who is also a member of the International Development Select Committee and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Friends of CAFOD Group, recently signed up to the group's "99 per cent Challenge", a year-long fundraising initiative which help's people move in the direction of a simpler lifestyle promise. [See Ekklesia, 11 April 2007]

The pledge calls on people to alter something in their lifestyle and to get others to do the same. It describes itself as "prophetic" in its aims and intentions.

"Livesimply is a welcome reminder to us as politicians that in our constituencies we need to continue to make connections between global issues and our local ones,"
declared Mr Battle last week.

John Battle, a Labour MP who has also served as an energy minister, was inspired to take up the challenge after inviting Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos in Nigeria, to talk to a group of MPs at Portcullis House in Westminster.

Archbishop Kaigama came to the UK as a guest of CAFOD to express solidarity with the many people who have taken up the livesimply challenge so far. It is hoped that they will become several thousand in due course.

The Nigerian church leader urged people to reflect on their lifestyles, and how they can live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with those in poverty in developing countries. 50 pence) and life expectancy is just 43 years."

John Battle MP responded: "People’s lifestyle choices here in the UK really do have an effect on people in developing countries - we are lucky to be able to make choices."

He added: "Also with [the] Livesimply [campaign] in mind, I would like to find ways to work more in solidarity with local politicians from the developing world, sharing experiences so as to better understand the obstacles they face in serving their communities."

Education: The way to climb out from the poverty bracket

from The Brunei Times

Zulkiple Ibrahim


LAST March 20, tens of cars were seen entering the compound of the Mara Junior College (MRSM) in Merbok, located some 15km from here.

Parents and students were seen alighting from the vehicles, braving the scorching heat from the morning sun and taking shelter under tents put up by the college's authorities.

It is registration time for students at the newly completed Merbok MRSM.

The college is among the newest of the 40 MRSMs in the country, of which several are in the midst of being constructed.

What are the parents' comments?

"This college is located too far away from my village in Pasir Penambang, Kuala Selangor," said 53-year-old coastal fisherman Rahmat Sutero.

Rahmat said as his son, 16-year-old Rahman, who scored seven A's in last year's Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination, is offered a place in the MRSM, he decided not to stand in the boy's way for a chance to get quality education.

The fisherman, who earns about RM500 a month catching prawns and crabs for seafood restaurants, said he would not let poverty stop his son from getting better education.

At a function last year, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak reminded Malaysians that they should not use the excuse of being poor if they failed to obtain education.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the government has and ready to assist those from the lower income group to obtain better education and this was proven when Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi abolished all public school examination fees last year. Najib said education is the best way to "climb out" from the poverty bracket and in Malaysia, the government always places priority on education.

"If I use poverty as an excuse to compromise on my son's education, then I might as well as ask him to continue schooling in Kuala Selangor," said Rahmat. Parent Mat Saad Saidin from Sungai Buloh in Selangor said the government, through Mara, has done a lot to assist Bumiputera students.

"They (Mara authorities) have done a lot to uplift the Bumiputeras' standard of living, especially through education by the setting up of MRSMs natiowide. The last time, there were only a few of these colleges, now there are almost 40," said the 46-year-old teacher who said that studying at the MRSM is not that expensive as most of the hostel and study fees are subsidised.

Meanwhile nurse Fatimah Ahmad of Petaling Jaya, Selangor said being offered a place in a Mara Junior Science college is a path to better education. "The MRSMs teach students to be very independent and with the 'homegroom' concept, the students learn how to take care of themselves and their colleagues in terms of discipline and academic studies."

Despite all these talk, another parent Zainoordin Ahmad, had this to say: "I think poverty, to a certain degree, is a factor that prevents some people from getting better education."

The 46-year-old teacher recalled his "poverty-stricken" childhood days."In 1973 I had to decline the offer to study at Pengkalan Chepa MRSM in Kota Baharu as my parents cannot afford to pay for the registration fees and buy the necessary equipment, books and others. But I doubt that such things ever happen nowdays," he said. Bernama

World Bank staff panel scolds Wolfowitz

the Chandler News-Dispatch

By HARRY DUNPHY, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Sunday he will continue to lead bank efforts to reduce global poverty, resisting calls to step down over his involvement in securing a huge pay increase for a close female friend.

"The bank has important work to do and I will continue to do it," he said at a news conference winding up a meeting of the steering committee for the bank and the International Monetary Fund .

"We have to ensure that the bank can effectively carry out its mandate and maintain its credibility and reputation as well as the motivation of its staff," the committee said.

"I believe in the mission of this organization, I intend to carry it out, I have had many expressions of support," he said.

After the news conference, Alison Cave, head of the World Bank Staff Association, which represents 7,000 of the bank‘s Washington employees, said the group believes Wolfowitz should resign.

Eric Guitierrez, a policy coordinator for ActionAid, an advocacy group, also said, "It‘s time for the board to show Wolfowitz the door."

Opening remarks focused on the World Bank‘s efforts to help poor countries meet goals for reducing poverty, broadening access to health care and education and economic development.

"The donors are now unfortunately in a position of not fulfilling their promises," Wolfowitz said.

Last week Wolfowitz told reporters donors would need to provide at least $28 billion if they are to fulfill promises to compensate IDA for income lost because of debt relief granted to poor countries.

In an e-mail to bank staff Saturday night, some of whom have called for his resignation, Wolfowitz said he had remained largely silent as the bank‘s board of directors considered his future.

"I feel, however, that this has left a vacuum, which has largely been filled by misleading information" and conceded the 109 pages of documents about the controversy released by the board are "a lot to wade through for significant facts so I would like to call your attention to a number of them."

He attached excerpts that referred to his offer, when he became president of the bank two years ago, to refrain from dealings with his companion, Shaha Riza, who then worked in the bank‘s Middle East department. But The Washington Post said he did not include his lawyer‘s subsequent clarification that the recusal offer did not include a ban on "professional contact."

Wolfowitz included a link to the package of documents, as did a posting on the bank‘s Web site Saturday. He has been under fire since it emerged that he secured a $193,590 job for Riza at the State Department soon after he joined the World Bank in 2005.

A deputy defense secretary and one of the architects of Bush‘s Iraq war strategy, Wolfowitz has been working behind the scenes at weekend meetings of finance ministers and central bankers to drum up support to stay in his post and presented reports to the bank‘s policy-setting Development Committee Sunday.

The White House has said President Bush has confidence in Wolfowitz.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the United States welcomed and supported an updated version of the bank‘s anti-corruption strategy developed under Wolfowitz‘s leadership. Since taking over, Wolfowitz has made anti-corruption efforts a priority, prompting concern from some of the board‘s European members that he was overemphasizing the issue.

Paulson called Wolfowitz "a very dedicated public servant" and said the review process by the board should be allowed to proceed.

As Wolfowitz entered the meeting room, he received a pat on the back from de Rato, the head of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank‘s sister institution. Wolfowitz put his briefing papers down and, smiling, greeted members of the committee, headed by Mexico‘s Agustin Carstens.

The United States, Britain and France, whose governments have a major role in bank operations, said it was important to await the outcome of the board investigation into Wolfowitz‘s actions.

British development minister Hilary Benn said Saturday, however, that "this whole business has damaged the bank and should not have happened" and was distracting attention away from the bank‘s agenda.

"This weekend ought to be about the bank‘s contribution to fighting poverty and I‘m looking forward to discussing how we can increase aid, tackle climate change and get clean water to 1 billion human beings," said Benn.

Paulson, however, said that waiting for the board review process to be completed should not be read "as any lessening of support" for Wolfowitz by the United States. A planned demonstration by bank employees calling for Wolfowitz to resign didn‘t happen, but several dozen members of advocacy groups marched outside the bank headquarters calling for his ouster.

Some African officials attending the meetings expressed support for Wolfowitz, saying he has made the continent a greater priority at the bank.

"We have seen visionary leadership, steadfast progress under Mr. Wolfowitz," said Liberia‘s finance minister, Antoinette Sayeh. "We can only say that we look forward to that continuing."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Open Markets push fishing communities into poverty

from Reuters Alert Net

Source: ActionAid - UK
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

Hundreds of local fishing communities are being pushed into poverty in Pakistan due to over fishing by international trawlers.

The warning comes in a report - Taking the Fish – claiming that poor fishing communities in developing countries worldwide could be devastated by moves to open up fishing markets as part of the latest WTO trade talks.

Pakistani fisher groups say trawlers from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan encroach on their local waters and use giant fishing nets to scoop up and deplete fish stocks under Pakistan’s policy of opening up its waters to international fleets.

Coastal communities say their right to fish is being violated. They report dramatically reduced catches of local species and now face widespread debt, hunger and deprivation.

"The people are starving," says Tahira Ali, deputy general secretary of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum in Karachi. "They don’t have bread to eat and they weep when they come home without fish at night."

Rogue trawlers are accused of using damaging nets and of indiscriminately catching and dumping huge quantities of young, unwanted, or dead fish at sea – leaving less for locals to catch.

"The trawlers have nets one to three kilometres in length, and the mouth of the net is equal to three American 'Statues of Liberties'," says Mohammad Ali Shah, chair of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum. "They catch all types of fish, and when they sort them 90% is discarded."

Some 90,000 tonnes of fish caught off the coast of Pakistan were exported to China, Japan, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Germany, the US and UK during 2004.

Aftab Alam Khan, head of ActionAid's trade campaign, says: "Pakistan's fisher folk go to bed hungry because of predatory trawlers moving in as a result of Pakistan’s drive for more trade and exports.

"This case highlights the appalling effects on poor people of unfairly opening up fishing markets. The government must urgently protect the rights of coastal communities."

As G33 trade ministers meet in Jakarta today (Wednesday), ActionAid warns there are moves to cut fish tariffs in the WTO talks, resulting in increased exports and further depletion of fish stocks.

"Rich nations must ditch their aggressive plans on fish tariffs at the WTO, otherwise the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of poor fisher folk could be jeopardised," said Alex Wijeratna, ActionAid campaigner and author of the report.

[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of Reuters. ]

'One-fifth' of Irish citizens face poverty

from The Irish Times

Clodagh Mulvey

Almost one-fifth of all Irish citizens are at risk of poverty, and Ireland is not protecting its most vulnerable members, it was claimed today.

Publishing its annual socio-economic review, the Conference of the Religious in Ireland (Cori) Justice group also claimed that nearly one third of those at risk of poverty come from households headed by an employed person.

The statistics were revealed in the social partner's 238-page annual review, Addressing Inequality.

One of the organisations responsible for negotiating and signing the last four social agreements with Government, including Partnership 2000and Towards 2016, Cori Justice said its latest research showed Ireland was now a two-tier society that is sustaining a widening wealth gap.

Calling on all political parties, ahead of the general election, to give equal priority to social as well as economic development, Cori Justice director Fr Seán Healy said: "At a time of growing national prosperity, it is clear that many have missed out on the boom times.

"Despite the huge economic growth of recent years Ireland is a long way from being a society characterised by fairness, equality and wellbeing," he said.

"It is clearer than ever that Ireland is a country of growing socio-economic divides. Any society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable people. By this measurement Ireland is failing."

Fr Healy added: "It is time that Irish policy-makers gave equal priority to social development and economic development. Otherwise our society will not be socially sustainable."

In its report, Cori Justice outlined a number of areas it says require the attention of Government, including income, taxation, housing and accomodation and rural development.

The social partner said that Ireland's per capita income is "far above the EU average", but said infrastructure and social provision fell well below that of its EU neighbours.

Museveni in Anti-Poverty Crusade

from All Africa

New Vision (Kampala)

By Cyprian Musoke

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni told Christian during the Easter prayers in Ntungamo to focus on fighting poverty. Addressing the congregation at Kyamate Church of Uganda, Museveni, who was accompanied by his wife Janet, singled out poverty as an obstacle for Uganda to be transformed.

He said the Government had put in place the necessary infrastructure to fight poverty in the past two decades.

Museveni said the Government had extended the road network, power lines, improved telecommunications, ensured peace and stability and brought macro-economic stability.

But he added that household incomes had not risen correspondingly, especially in the rural areas.

The President appealed to leaders to remain committed to the struggle against household poverty, especially by advising the population on the most profitable economic activities.

Museveni once again cautioned headmasters in Universal Primary and Secondary Education schools not to charge any fees. He said this would work against the Government's intention of ensuring that all children attain primary and secondary education.

The President announced that the Government would soon pass a regulation punishing school heads found levying such fees.

Janet, who is the MP for Ruhaama, asked the residents to use Easter to strengthen their faith.

The First Lady said real life evolved around sowing, waiting and harvesting.