- Heads of state and governments of the 14-member Southern African Development Community [SADC] have resolved their commitment to eradicate poverty "in all its manifestations and dimensions."
The SADC leaders outlined their commitment in the Mauritius Declaration adopted in Port-Louis at the end of the regional summit on poverty and development.
“High levels of poverty are unacceptable for the countries in our region, which has abundant resources,” declared Zambian President and Chairman of the regional grouping. President Levy Mwanawasa described as unfortunate that an estimated 40% of the population lives below the poverty line.
He blamed slow economic growth, few labour opportunities, decaying social services and diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS as the common causes of poverty.
In the Mauritius Declaration, regional leaders recognised that poverty is a problem of the highest urgency.
They expressed commitment to combat the negative effects of climate changes, increasing energy production capacity using renewable sources, improving access to education, sanitation as well as reduce the digital divide between North and South.
They recommended the urgent need to promote micro-finance and the development of small and medium enterprises to arrest the rising poverty levels in the region. The SADC leaders also endorsed the creation of a "regional observatory on poverty" tasked with monitoring progress.
The regional governments announced their full confidence in the mediation efforts of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in Zimbabwe, contrary to the call of the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC leader accused Mr Mbeki of being too soft in addressing the country's current political stalemate.
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