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UN Chief Says Action Needed to Meet Africa Poverty Goals


The U.N. secretary-general says new programs are required and urgent action is necessary in order to help Africa cut poverty and hunger by 2015, a pledge agreed to by world leaders in the Millennium Development Goals. From United Nations headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says some African nations have made progress toward the goals of cutting poverty, hunger, and maternal and infant mortality. But he says larger gains are only possible if the international community delivers on its commitments.

He cited successes in Malawi's lowering of child mortality rates, Senegal's improved water and sanitation and Tanzania's achievements in primary education.

"These successes show what is possible," said Ban Ki-moon. "The challenge now is to replicate these successes in more countries."

Mr. Ban spoke after the second meeting of a special steering group created to help get Africa on track to meet the so-called Millennium Development Goals. The panel, which includes leaders from the African Union, European Commission, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, will review recommendations and initiatives designed to improve development efforts in Africa. The secretary-general establish the steering group in September after figures showed Africa was not on track to meet the target date of 2015.

"Unfortunately, we have not seen any single country in sub-Saharan [Africa] region who is on track, including all the major goals of the MDG," he said. "That is exactly why I initiated this MDG African group. We need to focus the international community's overall efforts and cooperation to help and encourage African countries, including sub-Saharan countries, to get on-board."

The secretary-general and the steering group propose that African governments, with help from the international community, implement a number of programs that would enhance economic development, combat hunger, improve education, control infectious disease and ensure access to emergency obstetric care for all women. Mr. Ban said the recent rise in world food prices underscores the pressing need to raise agricultural productivity across Africa and highlights the need for additional funds to fight malnutrition and hunger.