Moving income into poor households, not increasing GDP (gross domestic product), is the key to solving poverty and related ills as the world seeks a development agenda to succeed the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Malawian President Joyce Banda told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
“The issues that affect population growth, malnutrition, girls’ access to education, maternal health are all rooted in poverty and particularly lack of income at the household level,” she said on the first day of the annual General Debate, adding that those who suggest the best strategy to achieve the MDGs is to realize GDP growth are presupposing a top down approach.
“If we have to overcome these challenges, we need to promote policies and programmes that bring decent incomes into households,” she stressed.
“If we cannot uplift the people that are in our rural areas, as is the case for many developing countries, to earn decent income in the household, the vicious cycle of population growth, malnutrition, maternal risks and poverty will remain with us. If the Post-2015 Development Agenda is to realize its dream, we need to go to the grassroots where the poor are.”
The post-2015 agenda, the theme of the 68th General Assembly, aims to set the stage for sustainable development in the decades after the expiry of the 15-year MDGs cycle, the eight targets that seek to slash extreme hunger and poverty, boost access to health care and education, achieve gender equality and environmental stability, and reduce maternal and child mortality and the incidence of HIV/AIDS, all by the end of 2015.
President Banda said Malawi is on track to achieve four of the eight MDGs – reducing child mortality; combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development.
“However, we are unlikely to meet the goals for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal access to education; ensuring gender equality and empowerment of women; reducing child mortality and improving maternal health,” she added.
But she noted that Malawi is registering a strong economic recovery through the painful but necessary reforms her Government has undertaken to address political and economic governance problems that she inherited.
“I sought to achieve macroeconomic stability, restore the rule of law, and the observance of human rights,” she said, reporting that foreign exchange and fuel are available, the currency has stabilized, inflation is declining, and industrial production is up from 30 per cent in 2012 to 75 per cent in 2013.
Economic growth is forecast at five per cent this year, up from 1.8 per cent last year and Malawians are once again enjoying their freedoms and civil liberties as enshrined in the constitution, she added.