|The Courier N° 143 - Jan - Feb 1994 Dossier: Fighting Poverty - Country Report : Niger (EC Courier, 1994, 96 p.)|
'The worst betrayal of intelligence is finding justification for the world as it is' Jean Guéhenno contemporary French philosopher
The unpalatable facts are these: One sixth of the world population (5 billion people) has three quarters of world income ($20 000 billion) and three quarters have only one sixth; one fifth of the world population - in particular 180 million people in Africa, 420 million in India, 210 million in China, 75 million in Latin America and the Caribbean - gets only 2% of world income. And 500 million of these poor, representing 10% of the world population, are living in abject poverty. More than a billion people - one fifth of mankind - are trying to survive with less than $370 per capita p.a., which (at 1985 prices ) is not even a dollar a day.
In Europe, 50 million of the 340 million inhabitants, or 15 % of the total population, are below the bread line.
This dossier investigates that situation, in the light of the following facts.
- It was long thought that poverty was a residual phenomenon which would disappear with progress and growth, but we now know that conventional economic growth is not synonymous with decrease in poverty. Traditional ideas have changed as new forms of poverty and marginality have followed economic crisis and economic, technological and social change.
What is new in our time is that people are not born poor. They become poor.
- Analysing the situation properly means moving from isolated cases to a collective, global phenomenon. Combating poverty and exclusion means not only taking stock of their magnitude in order then to take action, but also understanding the machinery which produces structural situations in order to head them off.
Poverty and exclusion lead to an undermining of conventional values and traditional forms of solidarity, to social break down, to a fear of the fulure and, therefore, to the emergence of people who are inward-looking and susceptible to extremism in all its forms.
- When it comes to effective action, the only real question is whether the poor are the object of concern or the 'subject' of their own future.
We now have proof that the poorest members of our societies can be reached by global action if that global action involves them and preserves their dignity. This current experimental approach must now be converted into a political project.
- In a crisis, the big issue is how to solve problems of this sort without unleashing conflict between the marginalised and the dominant elite - a task for the governments, of course, and for the poor themselves, for individuals, for groups and for communities, especially the international community.
It is with all this in mind that The Courier attempts to define the characteristics of poverty and exclusion, analyse the manifestations of both and describe the policies used to remedy them.
It outlines trends in the concepts of poverty and exclusion and analyses the main patterns and features of poverty in the developing countries. Simon Homer looks at the links between human development and poverty. In a very instructive interview, Gerry Rodgers gives the overall views of the International Labour Organisation on the problem,especially on poverty-employment relations. And Lucien Pagni investigates poverty and human rights.
Part two of the dossier attempts to outline the manifestations of poverty, with a report from ENDA-Dakar and a discussion of child labour from ILO sources.
This is followed by a look at poverty control policies, with an analysis of official development assistance, policies applied in the developing world, coordinated European action and, inevitably, the relation between structural adjustment and poverty. Catherine Dom examines the role of NGOs in a European scheme to combat the exclusion of women in Mali and the editor interviews Jean Tonglet, who sets out the point of view of the ATD Fourth World Movement.
Exclusion is dealt with by Paola Antolini, an anthropologist, who highlights the European situation, and Sophia Mappa, a historian and the head of the Delphi Forum, who considers the phenomenon as a North-South problem.
A report on the European Commission's anti-exclusion programmes in Europe and the UN's work in preparation for the world social development summit in Copenhagen in March 1995 complete the dossier.
Dominique DAVID, editor