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UN expert on extreme poverty in Ghana on fact-finding mission

Professor Philip Alston

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston, is in the country for a 10 day human rights fact-finding visit.

This is to assess government’s efforts to eliminate poverty and improve human rights in line with international human rights law.

During his 10-day visit, the Special Rapporteur will hold engagements with government officials, civil society organizations and some individuals. He would also visit the three regions in the north.

In an exclusive interview with 3FM NEWS, the independent human rights expert explained that having done a lot of background research, he’s aware that Ghana’s situation in terms of the economy has been tough.

The country has however recorded growth rate and demonstrated an impressive commitment to human rights at the international level about his expectations,

Professor Philip Alston who is essentially here to ascertain the extent to which the poor enjoy their human rights said he “hopes to formulate a lot of recommendations for the government. I think the big challenge now is what can be done in terms of social protection. In other words how can government ensure that the slums are cleared and the people get employment and the sort of support they need from government and other agencies.”

He was however quick too indicate that there can only be a positive social change if the citizenry makes demands on duty bearers on any recommendations that will come out of the fact-finding mission.

I’m not able to change anything myself. The hope is that if a report is well targeted and it actually resonates with the people in this country, then they can make certain demands.

“This action can ensure that the solidarity exhibited can push for political change, a change in priorities.”

Ghana was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to reduce poverty by half, to meet the Millennium Development Goal 1.

Nevertheless, deep poverty remains in most rural and peri-urban areas, especially in the three regions in northern Ghana.

In urban areas, where poverty incidence has seen some substantial decline, greater disparities and inequalities are being noticed.

Poverty has many dimensions but its causes include lack of education, low productivity of work, low income, social exclusion, and high vulnerability of certain populations to disasters and diseases.

There’s an established correlation between poverty and human rights. Poverty is more than just individuals lacking in quality employment and material goods.

It also incorporates social and physical goods which are characterized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a right to cultural identity, right to equality, freedom to live with respect and dignity as well as freedom from violence.

By Mercy Catherine Adjabeng | 3news.com

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