17 October 2007
The UN Day for eradication of poverty is observed annually on 17 October to raise public awareness about the urgent need to reduce the proportion of people living in extreme poverty.
1.2 billion people around the globe still live on less than a dollar
a day and nearly 850 million people go hungry every night according
The Secretary-General, at the 4th meeting of UNDEF’s Advisory Board, April 10th this year, underscored that “today, the UN’s efforts to promote democracy are inseparable from our broader work for security, development and human rights.”
Poverty is multidimensional, involving not only a lack of income but also a lack of access to basic social services and a lack of opportunity to participate in the public processes that influence people’s lives.
UNDEF believes that people from all countries should have the opportunity to actively contribute to political processes. Therefore, in the first round of grants, the majority went to projects in low income countries and almost half the grants went to groups in least developed countries.
In Mongolia, UNDEF in partnership with UNDP brings its support to a two-year project aimed at assisting the Government of Mongolia to realize its commitment to foster democratic governance and strengthen human rights. Despite the progress of democracy over the past fifteen years, there remain significant areas of concern such as poverty. 36% of the population live below the poverty line. This initiative will contribute to enhance governance reforms and tackle corrupt practices.
In Sao Tome e Principe, where 54% of the population is living in absolute poverty, UNDEF in partnership with UNDP, funds a project which will contribute to secure improved standards of living for the population through the socially responsible management of future oil revenues. The specific objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of local actors and institutions in Sao Tome e Principe to both influence and scrutinize national, regional and international policies to promote good governance. In order to promote the visibility and voices of marginalized groups and to facilitate stakeholder dialogues between communities, government, oil companies and the private sector, an advocacy center will be established and support will be provided to enhance and diversify the role of media in particular through the introduction of two community radio stations.
In Niger, UNDEF and UNDP are carrying out an anti-corruption initiative.
The project is implemented by a coalition of partners including the
Ministry of Justice, the National Commission for the Elaboration of
Strategies Against Corruption, the network of journalists for integrity
and transparency, the parliamentary network for the fight against corruption
and the Nigerian branch of Transparency International.
Processes of political reforms need to be complemented by socio-economic reforms, especially in the frame of a comprehensive democratization reform process. In the Arab region UNDEF is supporting an initiative which focuses on enhancing and promoting civil society participation in developing perspectives and agenda frameworks for socio-economic reforms. The two-year project has been implementing in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Bahrein, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan by the members of an Arab NGO network for promoting development. Arab civil society groups are increasingly being involved in debates on reforms and democratization and Arab civil society organizations have complemented the work on political reforms with a focus on socio-economic realities. The project will enhance capacity building of these groups enabling them to promote their right full role in developing a future-oriented vision of socio-economic reforms across the Arab region.
In transition processes, gains achieved through political reforms will remain fragile and reversible without any accompanying socio-economic reforms. In Rwanda, UNDEF supports an initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Ombudsman Office. Created in 2004, by the new constitution, the Ombudsman Office has already completed progresses in redressing socio-economic injustices particularly among vulnerable groups. Its mission is to increase democratic dialogue and to enhance interaction between poor, marginalized and voiceless groups and their national leaders.
Gender related poverty and political disadvantages are rooted in policies, practices and beliefs relating to the position of women and girls in society and perpetuate deprivation by constraining women’s ability to influence poverty reduction efforts. The first round of UNDEF’s projects reflects a strong commitment to gender equality and gender mainstreaming. 37.7% of the overall funded portfolio is oriented on addressing women’s political participation and another 30% of the proposals integrate specific gender issues considerations into projects activities.
In Sierra Leone, UNDEF contributes to the government’s poverty
reduction efforts through addressing the structural and attitudinal
barriers to women’s active and equal participation in policy formulation,
implementation and monitoring within local and national government with
a view to ensuring gender-equitable and pro-poor development planning
In Thailand, UNDEF is backing continued efforts carried out by a local NGO promoting human rights and protecting highland ethnic minorities and other indigenous peoples living in Thailand. The project aims at improving the access of ethnic minorities from Northern provinces to natural resources and land ownership through capacity building training sessions, networking activities and other protection mechanisms.
On this UN Day for eradication of poverty, the UN Democracy Fund wishes
to emphasize the interdependent nature of democracy and development
and to confirm its commitment to assist governments, public institutions,
civil society and the UN system in facilitating the participation of
poor and vulnerable people in democratization processes.