Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's
Office in Nairobi, Kenya.
Is poverty a human rights issue?
Public debate organized by UNESCO in
Nairobi on 9 May
On the occasion of the second meeting of the UNESCO International Advisory Committee on poverty and human rights held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 9-11 May 2005, the UNESCO Sector of Social and Human Sciences ( http://www.unesco.org/shs ), in consultation with the Kenya National Council of NGOs ( http://www.ngocouncil.org/ ), organized a public debate on 9 May 2005 with a cross-section of Kenyan NGOs and interested civil society groups involved in the struggle against poverty.
There was enthusiastic response to UNESCO's invitation, with close to 300 representatives of NGOs and other civil society organizations attending and participating actively in the public debate. The debate focused on the theme of poverty and human rights, especially on whether poverty is a human rights issue, and on efforts to build national capacities for research and policy analysis on poverty eradication.
The following two days of the meeting of the International Advisory Committee were devoted to the evaluation of the proposals submitted under the UNESCO Small Grants Programme on Poverty Eradication ( http://www.unesco.org/shs/poverty/ ). UNESCO contribution under the Small Grants scheme is aimed at strengthening national capacities for research and policy analysis on poverty eradication, thus, assisting selected Member States in developing anti-poverty strategies and action plans based on human rights and in monitoring their implementation. The programme, which targets mid-career researchers in selected Member States in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean – the regions or sub-regions least likely to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal on halving extreme poverty by 2015 according to prevailing trends.
The response to the call for applications was overwhelming - close to 400 proposals were received from the targeted regions. The selection process was rigorous, with the Advisory Committee recommending to UNESCO only 42 proposals (slightly over 10 per cent) for funding: 10 from South Asia; 11 from Eastern and Southern Africa; 6 from West and Central Africa; and 12 from Latin America. Each award is equivalent to $10,000 (upper ceiling). The Advisory Committee also recommended that three additional grants – one for each participating region – be allocated for state-of-the-art reviews on poverty and human rights to be undertaken under the aegis of the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP) ( http://www.crop.org/ ) based at the University of Bergen, Norway, a long-standing partner of UNESCO. The awardees of the UNESCO grants will also benefit from various capacity-building efforts, such as workshops on the human rights framework to poverty eradication, planned under the overall programme implementation.
John Nkinyangi, Regional Adviser for Social and Human Sciences in Africa
UNESCO Nairobi Office, United Nations Avenue , Gigiri
P.O. Box 30592 , 00100 Nairobi , KENYA
Tel.: +254 (20) 62 12 44; Fax: +254 (20) 62 12 45; Mobile : +254 734 744 362