Business Day (Johannesburg)

17 May 2010

South Africa: SA's Economic Growth Failed to Lift Poverty Levels - UN Body

Johannesburg — HELEN Clark, the chairwoman of the United Nations Development Group - a body responsible for all UN development agencies - said on Friday that fast economic growth in SA had not had a positive effect on poverty levels.

SA overtook Brazil last year as one of the most unequal societies in the world with a Gini coefficient of 0,68.

Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand, was in SA to launch, in Alexandra township, the 8 Goals for Africa music video, a UN initiative, to be screened across SA during the World Cup.

The music video profiles the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce the levels of poverty and hunger, put in place steps that would make universal primary education a reality, promote gender equality, reduce levels of child mortality, improve maternal health, combat infectious diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, create a sustainable environment and develop a global partnership for development.

Ambassadors of the 8 Goal music initiative are SA's Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Dludlu and the Soweto Gospel Choir, Benin's Angelique Kidjo, Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe, Senegalese Baaba Maal and Eric Wainaina from Kenya.

Clark's visit formed part of a four nations tour to Burkina Faso, Mali, Tanzania and SA to promote awareness of the goals in preparation for a world leaders summit to take place in New York in September.

Clark said that "significant progress had been made on some of the Millennium Development Goals", but she was undertaking the tour to look at what had been achieved and what was not working in preparation for the summit. On a global scale, efforts indicated that some nations were winning the war against poverty, illiteracy and gender inequality.

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