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Thursday, May 29, 2008
NGOs urge greater access, and more than just cash aid at TICAD
Addressing the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development on Wednesday, representatives of nongovernmental organizations stressed the need for more than economic assistance.
Social development, democratization and health care — not to mention more openness to NGO participation in TICAD — were also raised as subjects of note.
Referring to a pledge made by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda that morning, Rotimi Sankore, coordinator of Africa Public Health Rights Alliance, said, "We are all very . . . happy to hear that ODA will be doubled."
But "what exactly can doubling ODA achieve?" asked Sankore during a colloquium hosted by TICAD IV NGO Network at the Yokohama conference site. The network, made up of dozens of NGOs from Japan and Africa, featured among its guests Bono, lead singer of Irish rock band U2, and former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano.
Sankore and other representatives hammered home the point that TICAD's success must be measured not by cash alone but by the level of social development in Africa and the impact on communities.
Although significant in their own right, many pointed out that health issues overshadowed democracy and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
"It is not possible to have a vibrant Africa (the theme of TICAD IV) as long as people are dying of HIV, TB and malaria" said Louis Da Gama of Global Health Advocates.
Although many panelists lauded Japan's commitment to African development, they also expressed dissatisfaction with its decision to provide conference passes to just 11 NGOs.