The Way Forward to Defeat World Poverty

The Journal (Newcastle, England), September 5, 2006 | Go to article overview
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The Way Forward to Defeat World Poverty


Classrooms with teachers, clinics with nurses, running taps and working toilets: these basic public services are of concern to all of us.

But according to research published by Oxfam today, they are also the key to ending global poverty. And only governments are in a position to deliver them on the scale needed to transform the lives of millions living in poverty.

What greater investment could there be than paying for the training and salaries of teachers and health workers, or developing national water and sanitation systems? Universal public services are the platform on which today's prosperity in rich countries is built.

A hundred years ago, life expectancies in Europe weren't so very different from modern-day Africa. It was only through strong government-led programmes that we tackled disease and created an educated workforce, laying the foundations for the level of wealth we enjoy today.

In order to tackle poverty, developing country governments must devote a greater proportion of their budgets to building these vital services for their citizens and for rich countries to support their plans with increased, long-term aid commitment.

Rich countries and the World Bank must stop undermining governments' ability to deliver public services by pushing inappropriate private sector projects in water provision and health. The private sector may have a role to play, along with charities and faith groups, but they cannot provide services on the necessary scale, geared to the needs of all citizens, including women and girls, minorities and the very poorest.

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