Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Global Poverty Day 2012 in Uganda: Need to green the Post 2015 development framework

By Kimbowa Richard, Regional Coordinator, LVEMPII Civil Society Watch Project (c/o Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development), October 15, 2012 The observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can be traced back to 17 October 1987. On that day, over a hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger. They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected. These convictions are inscribed in a commemorative stone unveiled on this day. Since then, people of all backgrounds, beliefs and social origins have gathered every year on October 17th to renew their commitment and show their solidarity with the poor. Replicas of the commemorative stone have been unveiled around the world and serve as a gathering place to celebrate the Day At the Millennium Summit, world leaders committed themselves to cutting by half by the year 2015 the number of people living in extreme poverty - people whose income is less than one dollar a day. The 2012 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is special in that it comes at a time when discussions on following up the Millennium Development Goals after the varying progress made across the globe, is on. But as these discussions on the Post 2015 development framework gain momentum, contextualization of this process is very important to avoid ‘one-shoe-fits-all’ interventions. One way is to reflect the level of dependence countries like Uganda, have on environment and natural resources. There are many linkages between environmental sustainability and poverty reduction. For example improving the conditions of the fast growing slum dwellers might provide better water supply and other living conditions that contribute to a healthy population, reduce public expenditure on ‘diseases of poverty’ (like cholera and diarrhoea). However, to date, Uganda’s natural resources are under increased threat from the growing population, to the demands on them by private investors and the communities that sometimes do not use them sustainably. For example, given Uganda’s heavy dependence on agriculture as a mainstay of its economy, agricultural expansion from small plots into estate production, conversion of wetlands and deforestation pose a strong threat to Uganda’s biodiversity those communities that directly and indirectly derive a living from it (NEMA, 2007) On this occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty countries like Uganda with a high stake on environmental resources need to secure that the Post 2015 development framework addresses these concerns. On strand is to secure implementation of the global to lower level commitments (from Rio 1992 to date) to ensure a clear place for environmental sustainability as part of poverty eradication (the main focus for development agencies). For example, predictable and long-term financing for sustainable development that ranges from supporting micro level interventions to actions on global common resources like the atmosphere, transboundary waters, forests, wetlands and so on The other strand should be designing interventions under key priority sectors (below) guided by the Rio principles. From these sectors, Uganda and other developing countries will need to develop inclusive indicators: - Increasing land area covered by forests (on both public and private lands) to address land degradation and deforestation. - Addressing the food security - environment interface (action for small holder farming): promoting ecological agricultural practices to ensure sustainable land management - Increase the proportion of population using improved drinking water sources to address insufficient access to safe and clean drinking water, declining total water resources - Scale up access to sanitation - Actions for the fast growing slum dwellers - Addressing access of modern forms of energy for the poor and promoting energy options tom meet the growing industrial growth - Addressing the climate change effects on the poor (adaptation and mitigation actions) - Threatened species in fragile ecosystems like freshwater lakes, forests, wetlands and others to address the declining fisheries and fish stocks; reducing biodiversity and containing alien species like the water hyacinths on Lake Victoria