Disasters set back efforts to fight poverty

NPPA/ PNS — With six years to go before the deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Philippines continues to lag behind on its targets to reduce poverty by year 2015, and the series of natural disasters further threatens development efforts.

The MDGs are eight time-bound goals aimed at significantly reducing, if not completely eradicating, extreme poverty by 2015. Of these goals, the Philippines lags behind its targets on eliminating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, reducing maternal deaths, and combating HIV and AIDS.

“More than one-third of the population are still living on less that one dollar a day, over five million children are not in school, 93 newborn babies and 11 mothers are dying everyday, HIV and AIDS cases are growing, with the youth increasingly becoming more vulnerable, and environmental resources are depleting,” said United Nations Population Fund Representative and UN Advocacy Group Chair Suneeta Mukherjee in today’s press conference for the 2009 Stand Up Against Poverty Campaign, which adopted the local theme “Stand United, Fight Poverty.”

UN Millennium Campaign Deputy Director Minar Pimple also spoke of the necessity of “disaster-proofing” the MDGs, which means integrating disaster risk reduction into sustainable development policies and planning so that it contributes to MDG achievement.

“Efforts to avoid or at least mitigate further losses are a must by all concerned if achievement of the Goals by 2015 is to be a realistic proposition. Disaster proofing the MDGs is a need of the hour,” he said.

Former national treasurer Leonor Briones of Social Watch Philippines, meanwhile, said widespread measures need to be taken to minimize the impacts of recurrent floods, droughts, and other hazards that further exacerbate the poverty situation.

“Life has been a calamity for 3.7 million Filipino families with no food, no education, and no health care. The numbers are steadily increasing with the impacts of extreme weather conditions regularly happening nowadays,” Briones lamented.

At the press conference, Social Watch and UNMC launched the “I Vote for MDG” campaign, which encourages voters to know their candidates in next year’s elections and support those who will have the MDGs as their platform of government.

The Stand Up campaign is a global mobilization of people happening on October 16, 17 and 18 to demand world leaders to deliver on their promise to end poverty by 2015. A series of activities organized by multi-sectoral groups will be held nationwide during the three-day campaign, such as fund-raising marathons, environmental clean-up, community dialogues, and tree planting, among others.