REMARKS BY LT. GEN. (RTD) JOHN KOECH, CHAIRMAN POVERTY ERADICATION COMMISSION DURING THE MARKING OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY
CITY STADIUM, NAIROBI ON 17TH SEPTEMBER, 2010
Honorable minister for cooperative development;
Acting resident rep, UNDP
Other UN agencies representatives;
Civil society organizations,
Government departments present,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be with you here to mark the international day for the eradication of poverty. This day normally marked on 17th October, gives the government and other poverty stakeholders the opportunity to show their solidarity with the poor members of the society and to renew commitment to continue the fight against poverty.
As you are aware, commitment to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty is one of the eight millennium development goals that our government subscribed to achieve by 2015 during the united nations assembly in September 2000.
The MDGs represent human needs and basic rights that every individual around the world should be able to enjoyâ€” freedom from extreme poverty and hunger, quality education, productive and decent employment, good health and shelter, the right of women to give birth without risking their lives; and a world where environmental sustainability is a priority and women and men live in equality.
The MDGs are an eight-point road map with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the worldâ€™s poorest people. In September 2000 at the UN millennium summit 189 world leaders including Kenya made a historic promise by signing up to the millennium declaration and agreed to meet the millennium development goals by 2015.
Ladies and gentlemen
This month marks ten years since the commitments were made and the world leaders are holding a high level summit in new york between 20th â€“ 23rd of this month to review the progress, assess obstacles and gaps, and re-affirm their commitment to the achievement of the goals by 2015.
This is why we the poverty stakeholders are marking this day today, earlier than usual, so that our concerns, voices, and recommendations are stated and the world leaders to the summit including our government urged to keep the promise made in 2000.
The fight against poverty in Kenya started at independence. To-date this vice is still elusive with nearly 46% of the population still falling under the poverty line, meaning they cannot afford dignified life.
At the national level, poverty levels reduced from 56% in 2000 to the present 46%. The target set is to reduce poverty levels by half the year 2000 mark by 2015.
The percentage of population still below the poverty line is still unacceptably high given that only five years remaining to 2015. The national average also conceals poverty levels in many districts that are as high as 70%.
Ladies and gentlemen
The government is committed to reduce these high levels of poverty by putting in place policies, strategies and various development programmess to combat the problem.
Among the interventions the government and its development partners have put in place include the CDF, women & youth enterprise funds, IFAD programme, economic stimulus package, special programmes that are donor funded, and the poverty eradication commission which is mainly meant to play the coordination role of poverty stakeholders. NGOs and civil society are also implementing programmes that immensely contribute to the reduction of poverty
With concerted and coordinated efforts, poverty can be reduced. I am happy to note that Vietnam, a third world country has managed to achieve the MDG targets for eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, univerlising primary education, improving gender equity and controlling epidemics. The recent report on Vietnamâ€™s progress in reaching its MDGs, shows that poverty rate dropped from 58.1% in 1993 to 28.9% in 2002 and now 14.5% in 2008. The gdp reached an annual growth rate of 7.2% in the 2000-2010 period. Gdp per capita in 2010 is estimated at us dollars 1,200, a threefold increase compared to 2001 while life expectancy rose from 71 in 2002 to 74.3 in 2007.
Ladies and gentlemen
Currently most of the poverty programmes both by government and by other stakeholders including devolved funds are being implemented as separate and parallel programmes with weak mechanism for synergy building.
For kenya to reach where vietnam is in terms of poverty reduction, my commission is calling for urgent coordination and harmonization of various poverty stakeholders to ensure efficiency in the utilization of resources as well as sharing information on activities/programmes aimed at fighting poverty and taking stock of progress in various parts of the country.
In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to assure you that the government is committed to achieving most of the MDGs by 2015. In a recent heads of state and government consultative forum on millennium Development Goals in Rwanda, our president affirmed his governmentâ€™s commitment to allocate more resources to fund programmes that directly uplift the living standards of the people and accelerate achievement of MDGs. I would like to urge poverty stakeholders to intensify their