- Despite offering more aid to Africa and promise to boost its rice production, Japan's overall commitment to the continent is still believed to have fallen short of expectations, a network of non-governmental organisations warned.
As the IV Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD IV) draws to a close, the civil society demands for urgent action and accountability to the commitments geared towards addressing poverty in Africa. As such, Japan has been called not to sigh away from leading the rest of the G8 countries to deliver on their unrealized promises in Tokyo in July.
Japan's TICAD IV NGO Network (TNnet) said the looming food catastrophe for Africa demands urgent actions and long-term measures. The group stressed that the measures should, among others, relieve pressures on poor people, meet commitments to aid and trade reform. In the absence of these actions, the group warned of conflict, loss of life and rolling back the development gains that the Japan-Africa conference builds on.
"The focus on economic growth must be driven by a poverty-reduction agenda, underpinned by concrete actions that deliver the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015" said Toko Tomita of TNnet.
The network feared growth without social justice and unsustainable equity, especially in an environment where too many people, particularly women and girls, remain poor, vulnerable and excluded.
TICAD IV has been exhorted to commit to engage not only the technical issues but also on the importance of delivering for the poor, ensuring political will and being open to accountability.
TNnet said democracy and human security are central to building on the fragile peace in the African continent so as to deliver both poverty reduction and growth thus moving the continent from "charity and aid" to "trade and development" one. But this requires new partnership model that is founded on a commitment to end absolute poverty and build accountability through equitable, participatory and democratic governance systems at national and international levels, the network said.
The civil society is disappointed with Japan's contribution to adaptation in Africa because it "falls well short of what is required." It said since loans simply punish poor people twice, it must not be used for adaptations, and therefore call for support to the United Nations Adaptation Fund to ensure full participation of affected countries.
Although the network noted significant progress on poverty and growth, it however asked African governments to deliver on their commitments at TICAD IV with a common vision of an Africa that is free from absolute poverty and achieving the MDGs.
"Japan and African governments must make true their commitment for civil society participation through a clear and institutionalized role in the TICAD VI follow-up mechanism. Embracing civil society participation is at the core of strengthening accountability of the TICAD IV process," pressed Gustave Assah of Civic Commission for Africa.
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