Meles urges rural development to reduce poverty

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has urged the international community and African governments to back rural development for the continent.

Speaking at the launch of the UN Development Programme’s 2003 Human Development Report in Addis Ababa on Monday, he said rural and agricultural development was the “quickest and most reliable” way to reduce poverty.

“I believe a similar change is required elsewhere in the continent, and the need for such change on the part of African governments and the donor community, constitutes the main challenge to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in Africa,” he said.

The UNDP report revealed that Ethiopia is still failing to make inroads in its fight against widespread poverty in the country.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and head of the Millennium Project, said the goals were "not achievable if we continue the way we are going right now".

He argued that rich nations must provide greater funds – at least doubling their US $50 billion aid a year - if they wanted a stable world order.

“Time is short and we are not playing games,” he told members of the international community and Ethiopian government officials. “We are talking about the fate of tens of millions of people in the coming years, whether literally they will live or die.”

Patrick Asea, chief economist at the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa, told the meeting that cooperation between rich and poor nations was a litany of broken promises.

He said both rich nations and impoverished countries must be held to account on their promises and commitments if “swift progress” towards the MDGs was to be made.