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‘Human Development paradigm puts people at the centre of development’

Dec 30, 2011, 2:11 PM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

The United Nations Development Programme has raised concern at a recent forum on Human Development paradigm with more emphasis on “putting people at the centre of development”.

The forum, held recently at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, brought dignitaries from all walks of life to debate and influence policies, as well as enhance peoples’ capacities on development issues.

The three main speakers on the occasion were Dr Babatunde Omilola of the UNDP Regional Bureau in Johannesburg, Mrs Janice James, Economic Advisor of the UNDP The Gambia, and Mr Abdou Touray, Programme Specialist on Poverty and MDGs Unit, UNDP The Gambia.

Speaking on the occasion, Janice James, Economic Advisor at the UNDP in The Gambia, dilated on issues of human development.

Human development is not only a question of infrastructural development and environment or investment but also an issue of providing people with choices to enable them live a better life.

Putting people at the centre of development is about what people can do to enhance their capabilities as well as the freedom they have to exercise in making real choices in their lives, Mrs James said, adding that the first human development report 1990 mentioned both critical issues on human development, such as living a long and healthy life, education, and access to resources.

The UNDP economic advisor said further that success to human development is unlimited, adding that its approach increases political, social and economic freedom.

However, she noted, its basic purpose is to enlarge peoples’ choices.

“It is important to recognise that some key components have been articulated in writings not only on human lives but also on how that changes and further enhances others,” she added.

Among the objectives, she further noted, was to influence and advocate policy that would ensure that deprivation is eliminated.

She added that the UNDP and partners for the past twenty years have been using statistical data evidences based on analysis.

She also mentioned that The Gambia has issued different reports and “2012 will put emphasis on youth and development” among others.

In his presentation, Dr Babatunde Omilola, UNDP Regional Bureau, spoke more on inclusive growth and poverty reduction saying that challenges facing the globe, particularly in the developing world, are unprecedented. “Therefore there is need to deal with them and come up with a solution,” he added.

He also called on the need for African countries to put more emphasis on inclusive growth.

Although Africa has recognised economic growth over the year, it was not translated to inclusive growth, Dr Omilola said, adding that the key elements in looking at inclusive growth include the growth made on human beings across economic sectors, creating employment for the majority of the population, poverty reduction, and efficient natural resources management.

He, however, emphasised the need to note that inclusive growth also focuses on economic growth long-term perspective.

“The right to food, education, health, equity, political participation among others when combined together gives us what we mean by human development,” said the UNDP Regional Bureau chief.

He noted that Africa has made marginal improvement in poverty reduction using the international yardstick to measure poverty compared to other parts of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, which is experienced by the high population growth.

This has resulted in making three million people considered to be poor in Africa, he says, while emphasizing the need for all and sundry to earnestly work to reduce poverty through also inclusive growth in the continent.

The Gambia “is not doing badly” but the growth needs to be inclusive, said the UNDP Regional Bureau chief.

The country is still classified has low-income country, he noted, saying it is not rich in mineral but the agricultural resources among others when tapped can meet the poverty reduction target of the nation.

“A vigorous statistical analysis is at the heart of all the index calculations for all countries through the use of national data as well as data from satellite UN agencies,” he noted.

Abdou Touray, Programme Specialist at the Poverty and MDGs Unit of UNDP The Gambia, also spoke on human development index and related issues.

The forum ended with a question-and-answer session that gave various participants the opportunity to air their views and make salient comments.