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close this bookEliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century - White paper on international development (DFID - The Stationery Office, 1997, 86 p.)
close this folderSECTION 2 - Building Partnerships
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe Complexities of Development
View the documentMultilateral Development Assistance
View the documentThe Bilateral Programme - Partnerships for Development
View the documentThe Bilateral Programme - Partnerships in Britain

The Complexities of Development

2.1 Development is complex, and the challenge faced by the governments of the world’s poorest countries is formidable. For poverty elimination to be achieved, and for development to be sustainable - that is, secured without sacrificing future resources - there must be a dynamic balance between policies and actions which promote sustainable livelihoods, human development and the better management of the natural and physical environment. That means establishing a pattern of economic growth that benefits all sections of society; targeting scarce resources so that poor people have the education, health care and opportunities they need and ensuring that women and men enjoy equal benefits. It also requires proper stewardship of natural resources so that the needs of both present and future generations can be met.

2.2 This challenge is daunting for any society, but particularly for those with limited resources. Some countries will make more rapid progress towards the international development targets than others. Those most likely to succeed will have effective government, enlightened legislation, prudent budgeting and an efficient administration that responds to the needs of poor people. Governments of most poor countries seek help to carry through their development programmes. Effective support for their efforts will require action both through development programmes - the subject of this Section - and through wider policies - the subject of Section 3.

2.3 A wide range of interventions through development assistance programmes will often be needed to support economic growth which makes significant progress towards the elimination of poverty. These interventions include support for the provision of the basic necessities of life, water and food, investment in education, health and family planning services; investment in necessary infrastructure measures to create employment opportunities through the encouragement of small-scale enterprise; support for good governance and the rule of law and firm action against corruption; and action to promote greater equality for women and to end the exploitation of children. Panels 5-13 illustrate some of the fundamental issues in these areas and practical ways in which we can support national development plans and programmes. We will encourage participatory approaches which take into account the views and needs of the poor, and which tackle disparities between women and men throughout society.

2.4 The Prime Minister made a specific commitment at the Denver Summit in mid-1997 to raise by SO per cent our bilateral support for basic health care, basic education and clean water in Africa. In fulfilling this pledge, we shall look throughout at the wider picture so as to reflect the dynamic balance described above. For example, death rates among children and pregnant women - both of which remain high in poorer countries - are unlikely to fall just as a result of the construction of a range of health centres. For women to enjoy better maternal health, they need access to good quality obstetric units, to be able to travel to them quickly, and to be in a position to choose to use them without the approval or authority of others to do so. If they cannot, poor women will continue to be at least a hundred times more likely to die in childbirth than women in the UK or US.

2.5 Equally, the building of schools is not enough: the education provided must ensure that those attending school acquire appropriate knowledge and skills to improve their lives and contribute to the well-being of their communities. The quality of education is a crucial factor in encouraging parents to enrol their children (particularly girls) and in ensuring they attend school throughout the year (see Figure 8). Meeting the agreed international targets will therefore require action to address teaching quality and learning attainment, as well as primary enrolment figures, in order to retain children in school throughout the primary level and beyond. It also requires policies and means to address gender inequalities in primary and secondary education.



The Challenge

Poverty elimination and the well-being and livelihoods of poor people, whether they live in towns or rural areas, are critically dependent on their access at all times to sufficient, safe food and water.

Fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource essential to sustain life, development and the environment. Over 1.3 billion people do not have access to safe water. Eight hundred million people are hungry or malnourished.

Our Response


We are supporting international efforts through the United Nations, other agencies and bilaterally to implement Key Principles for Sustainable Integrated Water Management as set out in Agenda 21 and reiterated at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in June 1997.

We will:

· treat water as both a social and economic good

· increase our support for programmes that bring clean, safe water to poor people

· encourage all those who have an interest in its allocation and use - particularly women -to be involved in decision making and management of water resources

· adopt a comprehensive framework that takes account of impacts of water use on all aspects of social and economic development


The World Food Summit in 1996 set the target of reducing the number of undernourished people in the world by half by 2015. The primary responsibility for achieving food security rests with individual governments but the international community must play an important role. We will continue to advocate coordinated action within the European Community and the United Nations system. We will carry out a review of food aid.

We will promote policies and programmes that:

· increase access by poor people to a fair share of productive assets such as land

· improve the services and access to knowledge that people need to make the best use of those assets

· promote management of the natural environment in ways that will produce more safe and nutritious food, generate employment and income, and improve living standards without degrading the environment

· recognise women’s role in food production and their need for equal access to productive resources including land



The Challenge

Education is an essential foundation for the process of enabling individuals and countries to realise their potential and make the most of their resources.

But an estimated 150 million primary age children do not go to school, many get an inadequate education, and over 900 million adults, two-thirds of whom are women, are illiterate. The overall proportion of illiterate adults has been falling but the uneducated children of today will be the illiterate adults of tomorrow. Our priority is to assist partner countries to achieve the full participation of all children and adults in quality education at all levels.

Our Response

The Government embraces the vision of the Jomtien World Conference on Education for All in 1990 - universal access and equity, a focus on learning, broadening basic education to include literacy for adults and strengthening partnerships. The international development targets to which we are committed include Universal Primary Education by 2015 and eliminating gender inequalities in primary and secondary education by 2005.

We will adopt a new approach, working together with governments and international donors to develop education sector policy and financial frameworks. The focus of our support will be on the fundamental elements of an effective education system: access, quality, retention and equity:

· Access - for girls as well as boys, rich or poor, rural or urban, and those in socially or ethnically disadvantaged communities

· Quality - to prepare children for the life ahead

· Retention - to enable pupils to benefit from the full cycle of education

· Equity - to remove all barriers to opportunity and achievement

We also intend to strengthen and extend partnerships to support a range of innovative strategies. These will include:

· development of policies and practices to improve schools, educational opportunities and achievement within education systems

· involvement of local communities in developing and managing schools to increase local participation and accountability

· creation of new opportunities for the poor to participate in education at all levels

· reconstruction of education systems in poor countries emerging from acute social upheaval

· promotion of scholarship and research to improve our knowledge and understanding of how education can contribute to the elimination of poverty

We shall elaborate these principles in an education policy document.



The Challenge

The poorest billion people in the world are ten times more likely to die young (under 15 years of age) than the richest billion; they are nine times more likely to die of communicable diseases (diarrhoea, malaria, pneumonia and TB) and twice as likely to die from accidents and injury. Women, who are more at risk in all cases, are also at least ten times more likely to die of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. This massive burden of ill-health affects poor people’s chances of escaping from poverty and taking advantages of opportunities to do better.

Tackling high death and disability rates among poor people poses real challenges. For example, millions of people throughout the world cannot access sufficient water for personal use. As many as half the world’s population lack access to effective means for disposing of excreta. Water, sanitation, shelter, food and education, as well as essential health care, are all vital requirements if efforts to improve poor people’s health are to succeed.

Recent studies have indicated that a spend of just £9 per person per year on essential health care is sufficient to make a real difference to the suffering of poor people. This would allow a basic package of immunisation and nutritional supplements and public education of family planning, prevention of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases and substance abuse, to be provided. Currently, many developing countries spend less than £3 per person per year for all health needs, and these funds are not distributed in a way that ensures equitable service provision.

Our Response

The UK has signed up to a series of relevant international targets to be achieved by 2015 -specifically halving proportions of people in poverty, halving child mortality rates, reducing maternal mortality by three quarters and ensuring accessible reproductive health services. These call for coherent action to improve the livelihoods and well-being of poor people in poor countries.

We are committed to:

· helping ensure that all the world’s people - particularly those in the poorest countries of Africa and Asia - can access and benefit from essential health services

· establishing long-term partnerships for better health with countries, international organisations and UK-based groups

· supporting local (as well as global) initiatives on specific issues - for example, to help young people improve their sexual health and reduce HIV, enable all to lessen dangers for women associated with pregnancy, to reduce poor people’s suffering due to communicable disease - especially malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhoea and the like, to access clean water and sanitation, and promote health environments

· working with governments to develop sector-wide approaches to better health

· increasing our support within the United Nations system to promote international standards for human health and health care

· the better application of scientific knowledge and techniques to the health and well-being of poor people



The Challenge

The second half of the twentieth century has seen unprecedented changes in the size, structure and setting of the world’s population. In 1945, the population of the world, at 2.3 billion, was about the size of just China and India today. Since then, it has more than doubled to 5.8 billion. It could easily reach 9 billion by 2045, representing a quadrupling within 100 years. Ninety-five per cent of the current growth is in developing countries, least well-equipped to cope with the consequences. This presents immense challenges for all concerned with reducing poverty.

Alternative Futures: Population Projections to 2150

Source: UNFPA

It is clear that more and more people want to plan their families, have fewer children and give them a better start in life. At least 150 million couples worldwide are not able to access the contraceptives they want when they want them. When they are available, couples are often unaware how to use the contraceptives safely. The services for millions more are inadequate. If countries could respond to their people’s demands for smaller families, the world’s population could stabilise at 10 billion - or less.

The world is also both younger and older than ever before. Today, half the population in developing countries is under 23 years old. By 2000, an estimated 800 million people - 15 per cent of the world’s population - will be teenagers, the largest generation ever. Life expectancy in 1945 was 45 years; it is now 65, the highest ever, and by 2045, it is estimated it will be 76. By 2020, two thirds of the world’s elderly people will be in developing countries. A further dimension has been the increasing urbanisation of the world’s population. Eighty-four per cent of urban growth since 1970 has been in the developing countries, a proportion which continues to increase.

Our Response

Britain supports countries implementing the Programme of Action agreed at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. Through multilateral and bilateral action Britain will do what it can to enable more people, particularly the poor, to have choices about the number and timing of their children. We will help women to go through pregnancy and childbirth more safely, and help women and men, whether adolescent or older, avoid sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence.

This means improving the quality and accessibility of reproductive health information, services and commodities. Our goal is to contribute to meeting by 2015 internationally agreed targets of reproductive health for all and a three-quarters reduction in maternal mortality.



The Challenge

Many women and children in developing countries spend hours every day fetching water or collecting fire wood for cooking. In rural areas, development is often limited by the lack of even basic access to enable children to attend school; for people to visit health centres; for farmers to be able to market their produce; or for the unemployed to seek work. Schools and health centres are often totally inadequate for needs.

In urban areas, many poor people live in temporary shelter on marginal land on unserviced plots. Safe water supplies are often not readily available and poor (or non-existent) sanitation and waste-disposal systems give rise to health problems. Inadequate power supplies restrict the development of small enterprises to offer employment nearer home and can force people to use alternative, more expensive forms of energy (e.g. paraffin for lighting).

Our Response

In order to improve the availability of, and access to, essential basic infrastructure for poorer people in our partner countries we will:

· Increase our support to integrated Water Supply and Sanitation Projects which involve communities in the planning and managing of new facilities and includes hygiene education to maximise health benefits

· Promote the use of alternatives (such as photovoltive and mini hydro) systems to provide a cost effective means to supply electricity to a range of remote users including schools, hospitals, homes and water pumping for agriculture

· Seek ways to help reduce the burden placed on women and children to collect essential fuel for cooking

· Work with partners to develop rural feeder roads projects which train small local contractors and provides both employment for villagers and access to markets and other social services

· Seek appropriate ways to increase community participation in road maintenance and develop guidelines to improve the effectiveness of the involvement of communities in the maintenance and improvement of their local roads and tracks in order to protect community assets

· Build on current work aimed at forming partnerships with local artisans to help develop low-cost energy efficient designs for schools, health centres and houses that can be constructed from locally available materials

· Work with local community groups to assist low-income households to improve their own housing in a cost effective way, based on a self-help approach

· Work with urban slum dwellers to help meet basic infrastructure needs in partnership with city authorities

· Promote and encourage private sector investment in basic infrastructure and services in our partner countries to help meet the needs of the poor



The Challenge

Economic growth is the prime means of creating income and employment opportunities. Where markets for products are expanding, poor people are able to establish sustainable livelihoods for themselves either by increasing their existing production and finding new products to market, or by finding employment opportunities with new or growing enterprises. Without growth - with stagnant or even declining incomes - the poor will only be able to make insignificant improvements in their livelihoods at the expense of other poor people.

While economic growth is critical for sustainable development, it must be accompanied by policies and programmes to facilitate income and employment generation for poor people. Relying on the fruits of strong growth at a national level automatically trickling down to the more marginalised poor is not a solution. Systematic policies and programmes that not only distribute the fruits of economic development but more importantly integrate the poor themselves in the revitalisation of production are essential.

Individuals, households, enterprises and communities need the capacity to take advantage of opportunities to initiate and participate in new economic activity, to be provided with the appropriate incentives to stimulate their efforts to pursue and sustain income-generating activities, and to be encouraged through targeted instruments that promote economic activity.

Our Response

We will support policies and projects for which poor people are the immediate and direct beneficiaries, such as through:

· the promotion of finance for private business - through providing lines of credit and expertise to institutions, including co-operatives, that offer loans to poor farmers, poor people in towns and to small businesses

· investing in ways of freeing women’s time for income earning activities, such as improvements in rural infrastructure

· providing training in technical, business and financial skills

We will support policies and projects that have a broader set of beneficiaries and which impact upon the poor in a less direct sense, but which are nonetheless critical to the environment in which they seek to establish their livelihoods, such as:

· the fundamental programmes that establish macro-economic stability

· the elimination of unproductive expenditures to free up scarce resources for poverty focused objectives

· the development of economic infrastructure that meets the water, transportation, communications and energy needs of those pursuing a wide range of activities - both formal and informal, large-scale and small-scale

· the mobilisation of private sector financing

· assisting with asset re-distribution, for example legislative reform which gives women farmers equal access to land



The Challenge

The World Bank’s 1997 World Development Report states unequivocally that “good government is not a luxury - it is a vital necessity for development”. Raising standards of governance is central to the elimination of poverty. Making government more responsive to the needs and wishes of poor people can improve the quality of their lives. Accessible systems of justice help address family and personal insecurity. Poor people, and especially poor women, are likely to be the last to enjoy these rights unless they receive support.

Improving governance can thus improve the lives of poor people directly. It is also essential for creating the environment for faster economic growth. Both aspects can be compromised by corruption, which all governments must address. In developing countries it is the poor who bear proportionately the heaviest cost. The consequences include:

· the immediate impact on poor people of higher prices and fewer employment opportunities due to the distortions that corruption can cause, while corrupt officials may demand payment for public services which are supposed to be free

· the diversion of scarce budgetary resources away from poverty elimination into unproductive expenditure or into the repayment of debts accumulated because of corrupt activities, as well as the loss of tax and customs revenues

· the indirect economic impact that constrains economic growth by increasing the uncertainty and unpredictability of costs to prospective investors

· the indirect political impact that reduces poor people’s representation as elites cling to power in order to exploit opportunities for corruption

Our Response

We will support measures to build sound and accountable government which is the foundation of economic growth and poverty elimination allowing poor and disadvantaged people to achieve their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. This will include:

· support for decentralisation, new approaches to criminal justice, better service delivery, women’s political participation, and involving civil society

· support to make the machinery of government work smoothly and the Civil Service more efficient

· support to raise and allocate revenue equitably, to strengthen legal systems so that they can enforce laws of property and rights swiftly and justly

· encouraging democratic structures which can hold government accountable and give the poor a voice

As part of our commitment to combat corruption, we support OECD initiatives to criminalise the bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and to cease the tax deductibility of such bribes. We support the IMF and World Bank in their efforts to promote economic policies and institutional change to tackle corruption, within the scope of their mandates. In partner countries we will support direct instruments - such as anti-corruption commissions - and changes which reduce the motivation and opportunity for corruption - such as raising pay to a living wage and reducing administrative regulation where it is safe to do so.



The Challenge

The Government’s policy on equality between women and men reflects UK commitments made at recent international meetings - at Vienna, at Cairo and importantly at Beijing. It builds on the OECD DAC Statement on Gender Equality and the EU’s Gender Resolution and represents our contribution to taking forward the Beijing Platform for Action. The policy is an integral and essential part of our approach to development.

The goal of achieving equality between women and men is based on principles of human rights and social justice. Empowerment of women is moreover a prerequisite for achieving effective and people-centred development. We aim to tackle disparities between women and men throughout society.

The majority - perhaps 70 per cent - of the world’s poorest people are women. Their poverty is associated with unequal access to productive resources and control of assets, together with poor health, lack of education, personal insecurity and limited participation in public life. The abolition of poverty cannot be achieved until men and women have equal access to the resources and services necessary to achieve their individual potential and fulfill their obligations to household, community and, more broadly, society.

Poor women are frequently doubly disadvantaged (because of their poverty and because of their gender) in access to services, in access to and control over economic resources and in participation in public life. This perpetuates gender inequality. Moreover, poor women are more likely than poor men to suffer from the non-material aspects of poverty: isolation, lack of information, inability to have their voices heard and vulnerability to personal and social forms of violence.

Effective poverty reduction requires policies which recognise women’s multiple roles and we encourage and support macro-economic policies and development strategies that respond to the needs and efforts of women in poverty. We recognise the importance of women’s informal and unpaid social as well as economic work, when improving their livelihoods.

Gender analysis can help effective poverty reduction strategies by contributing to the design of economic reform and sector investment programmes and the growth of a socially responsible private sector. It can help with the reform of trade and investment policies and the design of appropriate participatory monitoring and support mechanisms.

Our Response

We implement our policy using a twin-track approach:

· assessing and addressing inequalities between women and men, boys and girls, in relation to all strategic areas of concern and as an integral part of all our development activities;

· supporting specific and focused initiatives to enhance women’s empowerment both in our own programmes and in our support to relevant national and multilateral organisations



The Challenge

Very many millions of the world’s children are suffering from violent civil or domestic conflict, or are exploited and abused in plantations and sweat shops. According to the ILO there are 250 million child workers. An estimated quarter of a million children under 18 - some as young as seven - are presently serving as soldiers, while the number of children displaced from their homes as a result of violent civil conflict is about 30 million. Some estimates suggest that about 1 million children every year fall victim to some form of sexual exploitation and some 8 million children are living on the streets. In those parts of Africa with high HIV/AIDS prevalence many children are orphans; these children are more likely to have their rights denied or violated and their property taken away from them.

Even where children are not suffering from these extreme forms of abuse, the specific needs of children within households and communities are often not understood or explicitly acknowledged; their needs and interests are often overlooked and subsumed by the needs of other household members, who have more power to express themselves. In many societies girl children tend to do the hardest work, have less to eat and are denied the opportunity of an education.

Our Response

We shall support international efforts to enhance children’s well-being through implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, promoting children’s protection and participation, alongside the provision of effective and sustainable services.

Children have a right to basic standards in health care, education, food, shelter and welfare; governments have a duty to support, and if necessary assist, parents in meeting these rights. Provision of services will therefore continue to be an essential part of our contribution to promoting children’s rights. At the same time, we shall place a stronger emphasis on combining provision with children’s protection and participation. For example, we shall support the development of education systems where children are educated about their rights - and are shielded from violation of these rights.

We shall encourage and support stand-alone programmes which can enable development partner countries to protect children from a violation of their rights. We will also promote strategies and programmes which enhance children’s and young people’s participation in the decisions that affect their lives.

2.6 Similarly, the provision of the physical means to bring clean water to rural villages is not enough by itself to ensure access to clean water for all. The question of who controls the pumps and pipes, and how access is determined, need also to be addressed. This can raise difficult social and cultural issues. The urban poor in developing countries can spend up to 40 per cent of their income on water, and pay water vendors up to 10 times the cost of water from a piped supply in the same city.

2.7 The international community as a whole has a major role to play in supporting developing countries in their efforts to eliminate poverty. Last year, the development assistance provided by bilateral and multilateral donors totalled some $55 billion. These resources, and the transfer of know-how and expertise that goes with them, can have far greater impact on levels of world poverty than has been evident to date. They will only be effective if there is also a consensus on priorities linked to the international development targets, and if the whole international community works together to meet them. We in the UK must rise to the challenge.