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New report calls for greater effort to eradicate extreme poverty in the Caribbean

Published:Sunday | October 26, 2014 | 12:11 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 26, CMC - A new United Nations report has found that while some of the world’s most vulnerable nations continue to make in-roads into poverty reduction, far greater effort is still needed if these countries, including many in the Caribbean, are to eradicate extreme poverty by 2020.

The study conducted by the UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) noted that since the adoption of the 2011 Instandbul Programme of Action on sustainable development, least developed countries (LDCs) have seen incremental economic and social gains.

The study says this is mainly because of an increase in public spending and stronger investment and activity in mining, construction, manufacturing and service sectors.

But the report cautions that, despite the uptick, the LDCs continue to be among the most vulnerable to external shocks, such as economic crises, climate-related events, natural disasters and health-related threats.

The recent outbreak of Ebola, which is concentrated in three least developed countries - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - and is impacting the rest of the world, “highlights the importance of comprehensively addressing structural vulnerability, requiring joint efforts by such vulnerable countries and their development partners,” the report notes.

It also underscores that “deepening inequality threatens to exacerbate existing poverty with implications for political and social stability in these countries”.

The study identifies four main determinants of the reduction of extreme poverty in the LDCs: gender inequality, institutional frameworks, infrastructure development and service delivery, and external factors.

The authors encourage leadership at the national level to implement policies that improve service delivery, address gender inequality and enable the poor to acquire investment assets that can improve their future income.

The report notes that women and girls are especially in need of better access to economic opportunities through vocational and managerial skills training.

In launching the report, Gyan Chandra Acharya, High Representative and head of UN-OHRLLS, said the survey notes that since the 2011 Istanbul conference, progress of LDC?s on many of the goals and targets has been “mixed”.

He said that while some countries have seen improvements in human and social development, in particular in education, health and youth development, others remain “mired in extreme poverty”.

During the same period, Acharya said official development assistance (ODA) from partner countries has been “volatile”.

Given extreme vulnerability and high-levels of poverty within these countries, the UN said their needs remain of particular concern.

“There is still a long way for these countries to go, even to catch up with other developing countries, not to mention [developed nations],” Acharya said.

Among its other highlights, the report argues, greater access to land, technology and finance are integral to boost growth in the LDCs and reduce inequality.

“The effectiveness of all policies, in their formulation and implementation, critically depends on sound national institutions,” the report notes.

The study further recommends that governments ensure that efforts to increase domestic revenue are designed in ways that curb inequality.

In order to increase public resource mobilization, fiscal policies need to promote public investment that is sustainable, it says.

While governments are encouraged to take the lead on national development, the report highlights the importance of development partners in supporting the LDCs.

“Actions by LDC development partners on trade, official development assistance, and other forms of external finance, including foreign direct investment, and technology transfer and acquisition will determine progress in ending poverty to a large degree,” the report noted.

It adds that the UN Secretary-General’s proposal for a technology bank and an international investment support centre for the LDCs could play an important role in upgrading productive capacity, and leveraging the growth and poverty eradication effects of technology transfer and foreign direct investment inflows.

The report calls for greater attention to be paid to eradicating extreme poverty in the LDCs within the on-going post-2015 development agenda, “especially since most of these countries will miss most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”.


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