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G20 Miust Prioritise People Living in Poverty to Prepare for the Storm Ahead

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) alliance is appealing to leaders to prioritise the needs of people living in poverty and maintain commitments despite the tough economic climate. The alliance calls on Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and India in particular to bring the needs of the less developed countries to the table and act in the interests of families and communities suffering most from the aftershocks of the crisis. The 117 million people who took action against poverty last month as part of Stand Up, called for inclusive democracies with fair and equitable economies, not systems that increase poverty.

The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) is a civil society alliance of social movements, international NGOs, trade unions, community groups, women’s organizations, faith and youth groups, local associations and campaigners working together across more than 100 national coalitions/platforms.

“We need to see some moral courage from our leaders now. There is a storm ahead for millions of people already living in abject poverty. Servicing debts in the current climate is crippling fragile economies, leading to increased hunger, child labour as well as more domestic and community violence. We need to see the same urgency now that leaders demonstrated when it came to rescuing the banks just weeks ago,” said Kumi Naidoo, Co-Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty in Washington.

GCAP is calling on the rich countries, the G7 and EU in particular, to step up work to;
  • honour their aid commitments and guarantee the $140billion needed annually to meet the target of 0.7percent of GNI
  • provide a stabilisation package including a two year moratorium on debt repayments, worth $219million
  • deliver the additional funding pledged at June’s food crisis summit in Rome and allocate more to agriculture and food security programmes

The food and fuel price spikes over the past year have devastated already vulnerable families with food costing 51 percent more now than two years ago. For people who were already spending most of their income on food that means more children starving to death and still little or no international support has been received. Add to this, global market insecurity, currency instability, decreased investment and the drop in remittances to developing countries as a result of the financial crisis, and we are seeing a very bleak picture emerge in 2009 that requires urgent action from the G20.

“We in Africa are starting to see this financial crisis hit us but the worst is to come. We want to see positive and practical measures come out of this and subsequent Summits that consider our fate and not just the fate of the banks,” said Adelaide Sosseh, GCAP Co-Chair, The Gambia.

GCAP is also supporting calls for this series of summits to address faults in the IMF and World Bank. Their practice of imposing privatization and trade liberalization on poor countries and harmful economic conditions attached to development finance systems has forced governments to cut back on spending on education, health and social security systems and worsened poverty. Lack of investment in the capacities of its people has lead to dependency on food aid instead of improving local agriculture, small enterprise and trade.

“Women pay the highest price for the failure of the current financial system and its institutional weaknesses. They are working day and night to struggle to feed their families whilst increased economic tension leads to even more domestic and community violence. The need for change is obvious and women leaders around the world are ready to take their place at the negotiation table,” said Sylvia Borren, Co- Chair of GCAP.

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