UNDP says its number one job is to fight poverty

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 (G-77) -- The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) says its number one job is to fight world poverty. ''We must not accept that the poor will always be with us. The world has the material and natural resources, the know-how and the people to make a poverty-free world a reality,'' UNDP Administrator Gus Speth said addressing the annual session of the Executive Board.

Global trends in poverty and case studies of success stories was the focus of a ''Special Event on Poverty Eradication'' hosted by the UNDP as part of the 1997 annual sessions of its Executive Board.
Speth said the eradication of poverty is no more than just a dream. ''160 years ago the world launched a crusade against slavery. Today, we must all help to lead a similar crusade-- for a world without poverty.''

The World Bank has used the standard of $370 per capita in annual income, or about $1 a day, as the threshold of extreme poverty.
Based on these estimates, there are about 1.3 billion people-- or about 30 percent of the population of the developing world-- living in extreme poverty, and their numbers are increasing.

The number of people with incomes of less than $750 per year, hardly more than $2 a day, is about 3.3 billion, or 60 percent of humanity.

''The greatest strategic potential of the 21st century is not gold, not land, not stocks, not technology, but the under-educated, under-nourished, under-employed three billion people of this world. Sustainable human development is the key to unlocking this richest resource on earth,'' he added.

One major UNDP thrust, he said, is to encourage and assist governments to develop national poverty eradication strategies and plans of action. UNDP is working to make these strategies and plans as comprehensive, participatory and realistic as possible, he added.