ECOWAS launches Regional Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper

The 15 member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ranked among the poorest countries in the world has launched a Regional Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (RPRSP) in Accra.

This bold initiative is designed to provide all the states with strategic guidelines to better prioritise individual regional programmes and combine them with national ones to maximise the effects of growth and poverty reduction.

It also offers the member states better visibility of all the regional programmes to enable the states to take them into account in the preparation of their national strategies.

Launching the RPRSP on behalf of Vice President John D. Mahama, Ms Hanny Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, described the paper as a “bankable, realistic and achievable concerted response to the debilitating effects of poverty which remains the worst plaque in the region”.

To this end, Ms Ayittey implored all stakeholders to lend their support and co-operation to the programme designed to reduce the poverty level in West Africa.

The minister tasked ECOWAS and the West Africa Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU) which jointly prepared the paper with technical assistance from the World Bank and African Development Bank (ADB) to make climate change an important component of their deliberations.

She explained that the issue of climate change would likely affect anything that they do in reducing poverty.

Poverty reduction is linked to education and gender, she noted, and urged member-countries to effectively operate the relevant ECOWAS protocols and conventions.

Mr Jean De Dieu Somda, vice-president of the ECOWAS Commission, said that the first major challenge that faces West Africa in this millennium is poverty because it affects more than 50 per cent of the people who live on less than one dollar a day.

He said the people need decent housing, food, transportation to make life meaningful.

Dr Patrick Agboma, a representative of the ADB, said the bank’s vision is to reduce poverty in Africa for rapid economic development 01 its people and has therefore set up seven offices in the region to coordinate and work on integration programmes.

On his part, El Hadj Abdou Sakho of the WAEMU, said that the West African Region faces cross-border wars, HIV/AIDS and malaria despite efforts to fight these challenges.

He acknowledged that the RPRT is an innovation to reduce poverty and the criticisms and suggestions to achieve the objectives are welcomed.

Source: The Ghanaian Times