By Paul Ndiho, Washington D.C.
September 22, 2010
World leaders attending the U.N general assembly at the United Nations in New York kicked of the Millennium Development Goals Summit by discussing methods to keep their promise to cut world poverty in half by 2015.
World leaders are meeting this week in New York, to assess the status of the eight millennium development goals they committed to in 2000. Analysts say Africa has made progress in reducing poverty, despite the global economic downturn that has affected many donor programs. Annika Soder, Assistant Director General, U.N Food and Agriculture Organization says, world hunger must be tackled now.
“More than 900 million, almost one billion people suffer from undernourishment. It’s possible to do something about it and we want to support the voices of those hungry people to make governments take action in order for them to be able to grow their own food or buy their own food.”
In most parts of Africa, food prices continue to soar. Prices of major food commodities in the markets across Africa have increased sharply and many households have poor access to basic food needs. Friday Abechi, a petty trader in Lagos, Nigeria says things are tight and she no longer can afford the luxury of three meals a day.
“Common ‘garri’ (cassava flour) if you don’t have money you can’t buy it, when I was growing people would take beans, it was the cheapest thing any poor man could eat, but now, the poor cannot afford it.”
Experts say that rising oil prices and increased production are expected to drive Nigerian economic growth higher this year although headline inflation is seen remaining in double digits. Sub-Saharan Africa’s second-biggest economy, grew by over 6 percent in 2009, is expected to grow 7.0 percent this year. Grain trader Abudulmalki Jibril says that the price of maize has continued to increase, and there are fewer buyers.
“In January a big of maize cost 5,500 naira (36 US dollars), in March 6,000 (naira) (40 US dollars), March to April to May 6,500 (naira) (43 US dollars), May till now, yellow maize costs 7,500 (naira) (50 US dollars) till now.”
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remains a major challenge for Togo, like most countries in sub Saharan Africa.
Northern Togo is one of the poorest areas of the country, with a poverty level of 90 percent and little access to education and health care. Two years ago, MDG aid projects launched in several villages in northern Togo. But Seidou Kouanta says the project has not helped poor farmers like himself.
“Given that we don’t have the means to have good harvests, it is difficult. If you do not have the means to purchase fertilizer, farming becomes difficult. So we suffer a lot here.”
In the village of Timbou, Doctor Michel Kodom says the healthcare projects allowed nurses and doctors to access patients who cannot reach the hospital.
“Patients who live in the villages are unable to come to our healthcare facilities, maybe because of lack of roads, villages are landlocked and inaccessible, so patients stay home, and also because they are no healthcare practitioners in the villages.”
Analysts say so far, only one Millennium Development Goals – halving global poverty – is on track to be met by the 2015 deadline. The global financial and economic recession has complicated the MDGs, forcing rich nations to cut aid budgets and slowing growth in poor countries.