Saturday, November 1, 2008

No blind eye to the poor people, pls!

Three bigwigs Kofi Annan, Michel Camdessus and Robert Rubin argue that the poor people in the developing countries might end up paying a heavier price than the developed countries because of the consequences of financial crisis on aid and government expenditure. (Well, this argument has now become the opening line for any article written about the imapct of the financial crisis in the developing countries.) They worry that the now off-track MDGs might even furhter veer off the expected goals to be reached by 2015.

A response to the crisis that does not take into account the needs of the world’s poor – or, worse, that results in reduced levels of engagement – would be grossly unfair. We all share responsibility for the persistence of poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy on a vast scale. The sense of injustice they engender is a threat to economic and political security. The sense of responsibility that has galvanised western politicians into action to restore confidence in the financial system should, in a globalised world, also result in actions to accelerate achievement of the millennium development goals.

At mid-point to 2015, it is clear that the MDGs are off track, but also that they need not be so. The many individual success stories provide a good basis for scaling up and achieving a real breakthrough in human development, not in the next 50 years, but the next decade. More accountable and effective governance in African countries is essential. A combination of political commitment by leaders in the developing world and of increased levels of investment, and technical and financial assistance from richer countries can make it happen. And in relative terms, this is not a costly proposition.