Opinions Sun, 22 Jul 2007

Launch a global war on poverty now

Can the government report progress in its Poverty Reduction Program?

After the war on terrorism, is the war on poverty next? It is a paradox that in this era of massive improvements in human livelihoods the U.N. goal of peace and prosperity remains an illusion for many people on Earth. A recent U.N. study estimates that about one-half of the world's population (about 3 billion people) live on less than $ 2 a day. Of those, about 1.3 billion people survive on less than $ 1 a day. These figures give cause for alarm. If eradicating poverty is not as important as eliminating terrorism, then we probably need to reorder our priorities. Poverty continues to wreak havoc in Africa, Central Asia and other parts of the world.

In Ghana over 50% of the people live below the poverty line. Recent reports of Ghana being used as a transit point for cocaine smuggling from South America to Europe have made matters worse contrary to what some believe. Fueled by the new spending power of the cocaine dealers, the cost of living also goes up. The cocaine money is in the hands of a few individuals, and there is no evidence of their newly acquired wealth trickling down to the general population through productive investment, wealth creation, and job opening.so their ill gotten wealth is not being shared and the higher prices that their new spending power has generated means real poverty actually rises. That's one reason why we should be ruthless in the fight against the cocaine barons because they are causing more harm that you can ever imagine to the economy, and also to the image of the country abroad.

Africa has been called the greatest development challenge facing mankind. African development is an achievable goal; what is needed, though, is the political will to carry it through. I believe that those who inflicted on Africa the twin evils of slavery and colonialism have a moral responsibility to help Africa develop. This has practical as well as moral value: Where economic prosperity prevails, so do peace and security. Most of today's internal conflicts with regional ramifications in Africa would become a thing of the past if Africa were to develop. Africa does not expect outside powers to resolve every development crisis on the continent. What Africa demands is the same political will that saw the United States help rebuild the Japanese economy and the Marshall Plan help Europe recover following World War II.

This coupled with good governance,prudent and transparent management and utilisation of national resources in the fight against poverty and corruption will bring about real progress and improve the standards of living of Africans. Like Ghana led in the fight for political emancipation in Africa, can it lead in the struggle for bettering the lives of Ghanaians and Africans in general? We have to for the sake of our children, we cannot afford to fail. .

Ben Ofosu-Appiah,
The author is a social and political analyst and also policy strategy advisor based in Tokyo, Japan. He welcomes your comments.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Ofosu-Appiah, Ben