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The Second Session of the Committee on Human and Social Development Opens at ECA

The second session of the Committee on Human and Social Development of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was opened Tuesday 18th October by the deputy-executive secretary of ECA, Ms Jennifer Kargbo. The committee is an intergovernmental body that guides the work of ECA in the area of human and social development. Membership of the committee comprises experts in social policy from government ministries, academia and some civil society organizations.

Ms Kargbo welcomed all participants to ECA on behalf of the executive secretary, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, saying the meeting comes at a critical time for Africa as the continent is being affected by the global financial and economic crisis, adverse effects of climate change, rising cost of food and fuels and the effects of natural disasters and civil strife.

“In light of this, ECA plans to undertake a strategic focusing exercise to better articulate the priority areas of social development that it should be addressing. This exercise will ensure that ECA responds more effectively to issues that member States consider priority and critical to achieving inclusive and equitable development in their countries,” she said.

Ms. Kargbo said although many African countries experienced economic growth in excess of six percent over the last ten years, the quality of life for the majority of people has not improved. “Although we need growth to end poverty, growth alone is not sufficient. The highest pay-offs to poverty reduction will only be attained through the provision of basic social services and creation of broad-based labour-intensive growth,” she said.

The deputy executive secretary concluded by calling on all the experts to deliberate extensively on the numerous challenges facing Africa and to make actionable recommendations that can guide the future work of the Economic Commission for Africa.

The African Union Commission (AUC) was represented at the meeting by Dr. John Strydom from its department of social affairs. He said the AUC has a comprehensive social policy framework that serves as its guiding principle.

He said the four key areas in its policy framework are implementing social protection measures across Africa ; strengthening the family in Africa as the bedrock of many social protection measures in African societies ; facilitating the development of human resources and labour migration ; and supporting gender equality.

“The conference of African ministers for social development that took place in Khartoum, Sudan two years ago deliberated extensively on the policy options. The ministers came up with clear guidelines in these four areas and that is also very relevant with the agenda of this committee,” he said. He said the ministers have also asked for a report on social development measures being implemented in Africa at their next meeting, which is scheduled for 2012.

The meeting was formally opened by the Chairperson of the outgoing bureau, Uganda, who handed over to the new bureau, which is being chaired by Egypt. During the two-day discussion, the committee will advise ECA on its on-going work in the area of social development and make recommendations on new areas of focus.

Issued by the ECA Information and Communication Service

Publié le 19 octobre 2011