Vienna, 17 October 2013 – The number of people living in extreme poverty dropped by 700 million between 1990 and 2010. And yet, despite this significant progress, more than 1 billion people are still living on less than 1.25 US dollar per day: "The situation has been aggravated by the financial and economic crisis that cost many people their jobs and thus their basis of existence. For this reason, we must continue to make every effort to bring about sustainable improvement of the living conditions of the people affected", Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Poverty is not only unevenly distributed in terms of regions, but disadvantaged groups, such as women, children or persons with disabilities, are usually more severely affected.
Even though the first of the Millennium Goals specified on an international level in the year 2000 will be impossible to reach, namely to bring about a fifty percent reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty by the year 2015, the fight against poverty must be kept a priority for the future. "With this in mind, the international community is already working on a Post-2015 Development Agenda that will also take account of issues that are important to Austria: peace and security, democratic governance, rule of law, gender equality and human rights", Spindelegger continued.
Development funds in Burkina Faso
Austrian Development Cooperation supports a regional development fund in the region of Boucle de Mouhon, one of the poorest regions of Burkina Faso. Communities are called on to submit their project proposals. The real needs of the population are then used as the basis for a regional council to decide on the projects to be financed.
The activities involved are varied: Wells are drilled, market and storage halls are being built, while micro-credits make it possible to set up small-scale enterprises or to invest in more resistant vegetable and fruit varieties. "The regional development fund has proven to be a useful tool to ensure food security, create income and push local economic development. Local cereal production has increased by seven percent within three years, and all the small-scale operations that received support are now able to cover at least 90 percent of the operating costs", Spindelegger said. The communities and associations now have the know-how they need to carry out projects and make investments independently. "Women play a central role in local development. They look after their families and homes, they work in the fields and are responsible for feeding their families. Women need to be supported, promoted and strengthened further if we want to reduce poverty and starvation on a lasting basis", Spindelegger concluded.
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