| The Courier- N°143 - Jan-Feb 1994 Dossier: Fighting poverty Country Report : Niger |
AFRICA - CARIBBEAN - PACIFIC - EUROPEAN UNION
Face to face with the poor
In an issue which focus" on poverty, it seemed appropriate that we should feature the views of those most directly affected - the poor themselves. And so, in a new departure for the new-look Courier, we give over our Meeting Point to poor people in four different continents. They give a moving, and sometimes heartrending testimony, which can only serve to underline the importance of the struggle against poverty.
Meetings of Councils of Ministers
The European Union's Council of Development Ministers and the ACP Council of Ministers held their traditional end-of-year meetings last December in Brussels. Poverty alleviation, better aid coordination and the LomÃ© Convention were among items discussed at the Development Council. Here, the Commission's proposals for the mid-term review of LomÃ© IV received the support of national delegations in several areas, and in particular on the question of democracy. The latter was also hotly debated at the ACP Council of Ministers, which was marked by a certain fear for the future - fear of the erosion of ACP preferences in the European market under the newly concluded GATT accord and fear for the survival of the LomÃ© Convention itself.
From the emergency regime to the estabilishment of democracy and the Third Republic in 1992, Niger's transition to a pluralist political system was exemplary. And despite an acute economic crisis, which makes the task of the new government particulary difficult, hopes remain high that the country's economy will move forward - thanks to a big effort to redress the public finances and the relaunch of the agricultural and rural sector which the Government is setting in train.
One sixth of the world's people spend three quarters of its income. Three quarters of the global population have to make do with one-sixth of the wealth that is generated. More than a billion people survive on a per capita income of less than $370 a year!
What these figures tell us, as we approach the end of the second milenium, is that some people are very wealthy... and a lot of people are very poor. But what exactly is meant by 'poverty'? Is it true that 'poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere'? And what, if anything, can be done about it ?
These are just some of the questions discussed in our Dossier on Poverty and Exclusion.