Nov 26, 2008, 5:58 AM
Fifty years ago, one in every three people on the planet lived in poverty. So the world took a huge step towards fighting poverty by forming the United Nations Development Programme, of which I am proud to be Resident Representative here in The Gambia.
Better known today as UNDP, we are now the world’s largest development agency and have played an important role over the past half-century as we work to end poverty and bring dignity to the lives of all.
Since 1966, millions of people have felt our work makes a fundamental and positive difference to their lives. We have worked here in The Gambia since 1976, focusing on promoting Development, Poverty Reduction, Private Sector and Entrepreneurship Development, Employment Promotion (especially for youth), Sustainable Economic and Environmental Management, Women Empowerment, and strengthening Democratic Governance.
As Resident Representative here in The Gambia, I am particularly proud of our EMPRETEC Gambia project, the Songhai Gambia Initiative, the GamJobs project, the Enhancing Resilience of Vulnerable Coastal Areas & Communities to Climate Change in The Gambia, and many other initiatives to support access to justice and women empowerment. These interventions have resulted in significant improvements in the lives and livelihoods of many individuals and communities.
It is this kind of work, undertaken across the globe, which has helped make countries like The Gambia a better place now than it was 50 years ago. But an anniversary, no matter how important, is not the time to rest on our laurels.
Of course the world is a better place now than it was in 1966, but it remains far from perfect. Even today, a billion people live on less than US$1.25 a day. We are not yet rid of poverty and hunger. We are imperfect stewards of our own planet. There remains so much work to do.
Here in The Gambia, we face some important challenges. These include: poverty which is still high at 48.4%, environmental degradation and the impact of climate change are reducing agricultural productivity, food and nutrition security remain elusive and over a third of our youths are unemployed.
UNDP, together with the UN system, is well placed to tackle those challenges, and right now we are working with the Government and development partners to develop the next United Nations Development Assistance Framework and UNDP Country Programme Document for 2017 -2021.
Thanks to our work and partnerships over the past 50 years, we are now able to build upon decades of painstaking work to end poverty, hunger and insecurity once and for all, and to find a way to live on our planet without harming it.
Just as we always have, we look forward to the participation of the people of The Gambia as we work to support them in building better lives and a better nation for themselves and their families. They are at the heart of our work and that is something we are very proud of.
We are looking forward to embarking together upon a new era: the era of the Sustainable Development Goals. These are 17 goals to guide the world for the next decade and a half.
Each and every one of us is beginning a journey that we hope will lead to a world that is prosperous, fair and inclusive, and it is a journey we want the people of The Gambia to join. The journey can take us to a world where poverty and hunger are notions of the past; a world where the inherent dignity and rights of every human being, particularly women and girls, are upheld and respected. A world where our planet is tended with care for every generation that is yet to come.
So how do we make our hopes reality? It will not be easy. But with the people of the world, especially the people of The Gambia, behind us – it is a reality we can all achieve together.