News24

West must help Africa - Graca

2009-10-02 21:28

Somerset West - It is in Western states' interest to help reduce poverty in Africa, Nelson Mandela's wife Graca Machel said on Friday, urging European MPs to do more to help Africa meet development targets.

The world's poorest continent, where millions survive on $1 a day, has been hard hit by a global economic crisis experts fear will undermine recent progress in lessening poverty.

The crisis has also raised concerns that developed nations may not honour their aid commitments to Africa.

Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) drawn up by the United Nations.

Mozambican-born Machel told delegates at the 25th anniversary conference of the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (Awepa) that it was in the developed world's interest to help Africa reduce poverty.

The developed world needs to feel "that these huge levels of poverty (are) a threat to their own security. When their interests are at risk, money can be found", she said.

Saving lives

"The message which our colleagues from Europe have to take to parliaments, to governments has to be reshaped so that it will touch the consciousness... to say we have an obligation to keep our brothers and sisters alive," Machel said.

Around 1 500 parliamentarians in Europe are members of Awepa, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands and nine African offices.

Machel acknowledged the problems facing developed nations because of the global economic crisis but said aid for better education and health cost less than bailing out the West's distressed banks.

"We need to make the message much clearer - that aid means saving lives, it's not a luxury."

Africa must also honour its own commitments to help meet the millennium development goals, Machel told the two-day gathering.

"We promised ourselves that we would spend 10% of the (national) budget for agriculture... how many African countries are allocating 10%?" Machel asked.