Is the target of halving extreme poverty by 2015 achievable? Challenges to German policy

Is the target of halving extreme poverty by 2015 achievable? Challenges to German policy

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Gsänger, Hans
Briefing Paper 3/2001

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

At the United Nations' Millennium Summit (September 2000) 150 heads of state and government reaffirmed the target of halving, by the year 2015, the proportion of the world’s people living in extreme poverty and the number suffering from hunger. This is an ambitious goal, which can be achieved only if both the countries affected and the donor countries and international development agencies make considerable efforts. The German government explicitly endorses the target of halving poverty, launching its Programme of Action 2015 (Poverty Reduction – a Global Responsibility) by cabinet decision in April 2000.What conditions must be satisfied if the target of halving poverty is to be achieved, and what contribution can Germany make?

  • The international target of halving extreme poverty and the number of people suffering from hunger will be achievable by 2015 only if poverty can be reduced more quickly than in the 1990s.

  • The experience of the 1990s has shown that, although market economy reforms favour economic growth, economic growth does not automatically lead to a reduction in poverty. As economic and social inequality are not only major causes of poverty but also determine how results are distributed, the question of access to productive resources should be given a high priority and the issue of agricultural reform is again on the agenda.
  • The pace of poverty reduction depends primarily not on the level of economic growth, but on the distribution of resources and the quality of growth, i.e. on the growth process being made to benefit the poor.
  • As the overwhelming majority of the extremely poor live in rural areas sustained by agriculture, the scale and pace of poverty reduction are determined particularly by the growth of rural incomes and productivity.
  • The Programme of Action 2015 defines Germany's contribution. The German government sees poverty reduction as an important component of its entire policy. Government action and development cooperation are meant to act in this context as an effective catalyst that changes structures, makes new alliances against poverty possible and enables innovative sources of finance to be tapped.
  • If the Programme of Action 2015 is to be implemented effectively, the priorities as regards sectors, regions and instruments need to be defined more accurately in an implementation plan. The promotion of African and Asian LDCs and of their agricultural and rural development should take precedence. Project aid should be reduced in favour of multilaterally coordinated programmes (PRSPs, SwAPs).

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