The United Nations is marking World Poverty day today. And in Africa, as part of activities lined up to eradicate poverty across the continent, the UN is planning to break a Guinness Book of World Records mark set last year, in which more than 23.5 million people reportedly stood up against poverty in more than 80 countries during a 24 hour period. Sources say Guinness record keepers said they were taken aback by the overwhelming show of support in solidarity with the poor.
From Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, UN campaign deputy director for Africa, Tajudeen Abdulraheem, tells reporter Peter Clottey that there should be a paradigm shift in the way African leaders tackle poverty in their various countries.
“The day is marked internationally for the eradication of poverty in the world because there is enough resource, human and material, for every human being to lead a decent life. And unfortunately, when it comes to poverty, Africa runs as one of the poorest. Africans are some of the poorest people in the world, even though Africa as a continent is one of the richest. So the day has particular significance for Africa,” Abdulraheem noted.
He said the UN in conjunction with local partners intends to break the world record to bring about more awareness of poverty in the world.
“Last year, we tried a challenge. The Guinness Book of Records along with the UN millennium campaign and the global call to action against poverty set a record of 10 thousand people ever to have stood up for a particular cause in a 24 hour period. Now, Guinness set a target of 10 thousand, and we got to work October 18th when the results were announced, over 23.5 million people in all continents of the world in more than 80 countries have stood up against poverty in support of the millennium goals,” he said.
Abdulraheem explains how they would go about beating the world record today.
“Today we are trying to beat the record that was set last year. And that is beginning from 9pm GMT last night up to 9pm GMT today, in various African countries. The National Coalition for MDG’s (millennium challenge account) are organizing a series of activities committing themselves to eradicate poverty in the world by taking a stand against poverty and supporting the millennium development goal,” Abdulraheem pointed out.
He said African leaders must strive to resolve the problems of poverty in their countries.
“Our responsibilities in the UN millennium campaign is to actually hold our governments to account to the commitments that they have made under the MDG’s. But more importantly for us, we demand accountability from our government because I don not believe that there is any African country that cannot eradicate poverty. What is missing is political will and political commitment of our leaders to prioritize the needs of their people. Some African countries can go to war without borrowing money. It is when it is only when it comes to school, hospitals, and roads for our people that they don’t have money. Now, we need to change that priority,” he noted.