International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2012
17 October, 2012
A farmer prepares his field for the planting season near Nathenje on the outskirts of Lilongwe, Malawi. Australia is using its expertise and experience to help improve food security in African countries. Photo: Stephen Morrison
Today is the 20th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and a good time to reflect on the Australian aid program’s progress towards this important Millennium Development Goal.
The theme for this year’s day—‘Working together out of poverty’—highlights the need for a truly global anti-poverty alliance, one in which both developed and developing countries participate actively.
In 2000, Australia and all other member states of the UN committed to the Millennium Declaration and the eight associated Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Australia has played an important role in global efforts towards the first MDG, cutting by half the number of people living in extreme poverty.
Australia is addressing poverty by working closely with its international partners to deliver access to finance, improve health, education and infrastructure in developing countries, and provide practical ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty.
Australia’s aid program is underpinned by research, with more $133 million worth carried out in 2011–12 in the name of achieving the MDGs, including the reduction of poverty.
Research on climate change, gender equality and health issues has made a real difference in practical terms to lives. For example, researchers are helping to overcome the problem of naturally occurring cyanide poisoning in Mozambique’s cassava crops. Cassava is a staple food that provides sustenance and income for local communities, including 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rural development assistance
A recent review of Australia’s rural development assistance found that Australian aid has improved the lives of large numbers of poor rural people in developing countries. It has helped both men and women access more value from new markets and make more effective use of scarce natural resources.
Australian aid has also helped them accumulate assets so that they can afford to send children to school, pay for health care and gain access to other essential services.
Farmers in West Timor have been helped by training in better growing practices and the distribution of high quality maize seed to improve cultivation. The program has helped farmers on average to double their yield of maize per hectare and feed more than 90,000 people.
Australia is contributing $180 million in aid funding to Bangladesh over the next five years, part of which will be used to support 680,000 children—more than half of them girls—through five years of primary education, and to lift 340,000 women and their families out of extreme poverty.
In Nepal, where 55 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line of US$1.25 a day, Australia is supporting people in rural communities to move out of extreme poverty through sustainable micro enterprises which increase household incomes and provide food security and social benefits.
Australia is also supporting a system to make sure that poor people can access health services for free in Cambodia, by providing incentives for hospitals and clinics that treat the poor and a card for poor people to access free healthcare.
Australia, in partnership with the UK and other international donors, funded the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) to assist recovery efforts in Myanmar following the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
LIFT assistance has benefited an estimated 172,000 households or 860,000 people by enabling farmers to cultivate greater areas and yield better harvests, resulting in increased income for many households and villages.
Education and transport
Rotan on his way to classes at a primary school run by the NGO BRAC. Australia is supporting provision of basic education to children from poor and vulnerable communities in Bangladesh through BRAC’s education programs. Photo: Conor Ashleigh / AusAID
Australia recognises the importance of education in eradicating poverty. For example, in Indonesia funding has been provided for new schools, English language programs and study opportunities in Australia.
Transport is also vitally important if poor people are to access health, education and employment opportunities, so Australia is supporting the building of roads, including an 80 km transport link on Sumbawa Island, Indonesia, which will facilitate economic and social development on the island, and the development of a sustainable road transportation system in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Assistance to PNG has been instrumental in growing the coffee industry, improving the quality of produce and increasing profit margins for poor farmers. Over 50 per cent of rural households in PNG now obtain the majority of their cash income from coffee exports.
In the Solomon Islands, Australian aid has had significant success in boosting rural incomes through enhanced cocoa exports. Training in simple pruning techniques has helped cocoa smallholders improve yields three to five-fold.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed every year since 1993, when the General Assembly designated this day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in developing countries—a need that has become a development priority.
AusAID is supporting the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and Anti-Poverty Week, which runs until Saturday, 20 October.
Last Reviewed: 17 October, 2012