Regional experts address poverty ills

Kathmandu, October 11:

A gathering of about 300 international and national experts at the South Asia Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Forum in the capital Kathmandu, have emphasised the urgent need for eradicating poverty in South Asia by 2015 as per the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Experts are of the view that no country in South Asia is on track to meet all the goals by 2015 and the MDG clock is tickling. MDGs are the world’s time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions — income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion.

Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, finance minister of Nepal, after launching the MDG forum said that poverty is the major cause of conflict and social unrest. Eradication of poverty is a major objective of MDG for which we need to work effectively, opined Dr Mahat.

There is a need to expedite the initiative of creating employment opportunities in the whole of South Asia, Dr Mahat said hoping that MDG targets can be met. He said Nepal has to gear up development initiatives in some areas to meet MDGs for which will need to work in a coordinated manner.

At the same function, Kim Hak Su, under secretary general of the United Nations for Economic

and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said that the number of people living below a dollar a day has been declining steadily since 1990 in South Asia. In India, the incidence of poverty has dropped from 42 per cent in 1990 to 35 per cent in 2001, he informed. Similarly, other countries in South Asia have also progressed in reducing income poverty. He also said that South Asia is making less progress in combating hard-core poverty, which in turn holds back progress in other areas.

According to Su, South Asian countries are self sufficient in food grain production. However, more than 300 million people are racked by chronic hunger and struggle daily for survival, a matter demands urgent attention. He also announced the MDG media awards in the Asia-Pacific region for print and electronic media. Mathew Kahane, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative of Nepal said that as per Jakarta Declaration adopted in 2005, a strong political will and bold, decisive action for achieving MDGs will certainly help in realising productive results.

By 2006, as per Kahane, all countries are required to have a MDG-based national strategy/plan prepared at the country level to achieve the targets. He said that the South Asia

Forum is the first in a series to engage the sub-regions of Asia and the developing

stakeholders in motivating them for implementing the MDG support services and providing the assistance demanded by member countries. Dr Posh Raj Pandey, member of National Planning Commission (NPC), also said that to achieve MDGs, we need to effectively implement the commitments made in the Tenth Plan such as better governance, effective service delivery, technology transfer, participation of stakeholders in development initiatives, among others.

Sultan Hafeez Rahman, deputy director general of Asian Development Bank said that regional cooperation is becoming an imperative for sustained growth in the South Asian region. He opined that there are tremendous opportunities in the region, which can be effectively exploited for larger good of people here. The two-day long forum is being organised by UNESCAP, UNDP and ADB, which is being participated in by South Asian people including experts from Afghanistan. The forum is expected to come out with a roadmap for eradicating poverty in the Asia Pacific.