photo taken inside a cathedral

Eradicating Poverty

St Albans Diocese Crest

Methodist Church Logo


Make poverty history poster


It is almost beyond belief, but 50,000 people die of poverty every day in the world. 30,000 of them are children. Is there any possibility of change? At a rally recently in Trafalgar Square, Nelson Mandela said

‘Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great,
you can be that great generation.’

He was referring to the opportunity presented by The G8 Summit in Gleneagles in Scotland which starts on the 6 July.  As the UK assumes the presidency of the European Union, and as the G8 summit takes place in Gleneagles, we are called upon to support the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY coalition which seeks 1. Trade justice  2. To drop the debt of poor countries and 3. To give more and better aid. Christians Aid and many other charities involved in the coalition believe that  the time has come to work for a world in which in which justice – the justice of God’s Kingdom – prevails. In 1 John 3: 17, we read:

'If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need
but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?'

So let’s pray that our leaders will hear the voices of those who ask for justice and dignity for all people. And let’s pray that God’s kingdom will come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


It is not from your own possessions that you are bestowing alms on the poor, you are but restoring to them what is theirs by right. For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. Thus, far from giving lavishly, you are but paying part of your debt. (St Ambrose, 340-397)

‘Poverty is not natural,
it is man made’
Nelson Mandela


Speak out, judge righteously,

defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31: 9

A most important gathering will soon take place when leaders from the "Group of 8" (G8) industrialized countries meet July 6-8 in Gleneagles, Scotland. The agenda of each G8 meeting is traditionally driven by the host country, so there is symbolic importance in the fact that that the United Kingdom was also host when the G8 group reached historic agreement on $100 billion worth of debt cancellation in 1998. Since the UK will also hold the presidency of the European Union from July-December, there is some hope that the muscle of the G8 host will be applied to ensure effective European compliance with commitments made at the Millennium Summit.

In preparing for the July G8 meeting, campaigners have been concentrating on three broad areas in which they hope leaders will make progress: debt, aid, and trade. 

The Manifesto

Trade Justice, Drop the Debt and More and Better Aid

Today, the gap between the world’s rich and poor is wider than ever. Global injustices such as poverty, AIDS, malnutrition, conflict and illiteracy remain rife. Despite the promises of world leaders, at our present sluggish rate of progress the world will fail dismally to reach internationally agreed targets to halve global poverty by 2015. World poverty is sustained not by chance or nature, but by a combination of factors: injustice in global trade; the huge burden of debt; insufficient and ineffective aid. Each of these is exacerbated by inappropriate economic policies imposed by rich countries.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. These factors are determined by human decisions. 2005 offers an exceptional series of opportunities for the UK to take a lead internationally, to start turning things around. This year, as the UK hosts the annual G8 gathering of powerful world leaders and heads up the European Union (EU), the UK Government will be a particularly influential player on the world stage.
A sea change is needed. By mobilising popular support across a unique string of events and actions, we will press our own government to compel rich countries to fulfil their obligations and promises to help eradicate poverty, and to rethink some long-held assumptions.
Make Poverty History urges the government and international decision makers to rise to the challenge of 2005. We are calling for urgent and meaningful policy change on three critical and inextricably linked areas: trade, debt and aid.

1. Trade justice
Fight for rules that ensure governments, particularly in poor countries, can choose the best solutions to end poverty and protect the environment. These will not always be free trade policies.
End export subsidies that damage the livelihoods of poor rural communities around the world.
Make laws that stop big business profiting at the expense of people and the environment.

The rules of international trade are stacked in favour of the most powerful countries and their businesses. On the one hand these rules allow rich countries to pay their farmers and companies subsidies to export food – destroying the livelihoods of poor farmers. On the other, poverty eradication, human rights and environmental protection come a poor second to the goal of ‘eliminating trade barriers’.
We need trade justice not free trade. This means the EU single-handedly putting an end to its damaging agricultural export subsidies now; it means ensuring poor countries can feed their people by protecting their own farmers and staple crops; it means ensuring governments can effectively regulate water companies by keeping water out of world trade rules; and it means ensuring trade rules do not undermine core labour standards.
We need to stop the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) forcing poor countries to open their markets to trade with rich countries, which has proved so disastrous over the past 20 years; the EU must drop its demand that former European colonies open their markets and give more rights to big companies; we need to regulate companies – making them accountable for their social and environmental impact both here and abroad; and we must ensure that countries are able to regulate foreign investment in a way that best suits their own needs.

2. Drop the debt
The unpayable debts of the world’s poorest countries should be cancelled in full, by fair and transparent means.

Despite grand statements from world leaders, the debt crisis is far from over. Rich countries have not delivered on the promise they made more than six years ago to cancel unpayable poor country debts. As a result, many countries still have to spend more on debt repayments than on meeting the needs of their people.
Rich countries and the institutions they control must act now to cancel all the unpayable debts of the poorest countries. They should not do this by depriving poor countries of new aid, but by digging into their pockets and providing new money.
The task of calculating how much debt should be cancelled must no longer be left to creditors concerned mainly with minimising their own costs. Instead, we need a fair and transparent international process to make sure that human needs take priority over debt repayments.
International institutions like the IMF and World Bank must stop asking poor countries to jump through hoops in order to qualify for debt relief. Poor countries should no longer have to privatise basic services or liberalise economies as a condition for getting the debt relief they so desperately need. And to avoid another debt crisis hard on the heels of the first, poor countries need to be given more grants, rather than seeing their debt burden piled even higher with yet more loans.

3. More and better aid
Donors must now deliver at least $50 billion more in aid and set a binding timetable for spending 0.7% of national income on aid. Aid must also be made to work more effectively for poor people.
Poverty will not be eradicated without an immediate and major increase in international aid. Rich countries have promised to provide the extra money needed to meet internationally agreed poverty reduction targets. This amounts to at least $50 billion per year, according to official estimates, and must be delivered now. Rich countries have also promised to provide 0.7% of their national income in aid and they must now make good on their commitment by setting a binding timetable to reach this target.
However, without far-reaching changes in how aid is delivered, it won’t achieve maximum benefits. Two key areas of reform are needed.
* First, aid needs to focus better on poor people’s needs. This means more aid being spent on areas such as basic healthcare and education. Aid should no longer be tied to goods and services from the donor, so ensuring that more money is spent in the poorest countries. And the World Bank and the IMF must become fully democratic in order for poor people’s concerns to be heard.

* Second, aid should support poor countries and communities’ own plans and paths out of poverty. Aid should therefore no longer be conditional on recipients promising economic change like privatising or deregulating their services, cutting health and education spending, or opening up their markets: these are unfair practices that have never been proven to reduce poverty. And aid needs to be made predictable, so that poor countries can plan effectively and take control of their own budgets in the fight against poverty.

Make Poverty History and the fight against Aids

Around 38 million people are living with HIV (the virus that leads to AIDS). 95% of these people live in developing countries.

Scientists have developed anti-AIDS treatments that can people keep alive and healthy for up to twenty years, but most of the people living with HIV are too poor to afford them. If patients receive drugs and other care, HIV is a manageable illness. Unfortunately, unfair trade rules, crippling debt and insufficient and ineffective aid are stopping poor people from getting the AIDS care they need - and the consequences are fatal.

The virus has already claimed the lives of 20 million people, and left 15 million children orphaned. As people die, communities lose their mothers, fathers, producers, public servants and future leaders. In some countries teachers are dying of AIDS faster than replacements can be trained.

Complacency and inaction from G8 members (the group of the 8 most powerful political leaders) has taken a treatable, preventable disease and turned it in to a global emergency. Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa, has called the situation 'mass murder by complacency'.
When the UK hosts the G8 summit in July 2005 it has the opportunity to change the course of the epidemic, and make AIDS history. The Stop AIDS Campaign is demanding that Tony Blair and other G8 leaders commit to a binding timetable for providing access to HIV and AIDS care and treatment for all who need it.Access to care and treatment can never be a reality without action on trade, debt and aid.
Unfair trade rules mean drug prices are set too high for poor communities to afford them. Debt repayments mean poor countries can't build up their health systems Insufficient and ineffective aid means countries don't have the money they need to buy drugs and other treatments for their people
Make AIDS and Poverty History.

Prayer for make poverty history

Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’. We pray for the children, women and men across the world who struggle each day to survive, pitted against economic conditions beyond their control. Give them strength to meet each day and hope for a different future.

Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ We pray for the people and organisations campaigning for change as part of the Make Poverty History coalition. May the call for trade justice, for an end to debt and for more and better aid echo loud and clear across the world.

Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.’ We pray for the leaders and politicians with the power to change things. Help them to take the side of the poor, to resist the voices of self-interest and complacency and to make bold choices for the good of all people.
We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, friend of the poor. Amen.

Litany for Make Poverty History

On those bowed down by poverty Lord have mercy

On those who struggle to survive Lord have mercy

On parents who have lost children to disease Lord have mercy

On children who miss school because of unpayable debt  Lord have mercy

On young people growing up with no hope for the future Lord have mercy

On adults who work and cannot make a living Lord have mercy

On farmers who cannot sell what they produce Lord have mercy

On people working to rebuild their lives after the tsunami Lord have mercy

For campaigners fighting for justice Make their voices heard

For citizens standing up for their rights Make their voices heard

For postcard-signers, email-senders and white-band-wearers Make their voices heard

For politicians and decision-makers Give them wisdom, Lord

For the G8 leaders as they prepare to meet Give them wisdom, Lord

For the leaders of Africa Give them wisdom, Lord

For ourselves, as we struggle with these issues Make us the means of change

For your world Help us make poverty history

A Hymn of concern

When I needed a neighbour were you there, were you there?
When I needed a neighbour were you there?

And the creed and the colour and the name won't matter, Were you there?

I was hungry and thirsty, were you there, were you there?
I was hungry and thirsty, were you there? Chorus

I was cold, I was naked, were you there, were you there?
I was cold, I was naked, were you there? Chorus

When I needed a shelter were you there, were you there?
When I needed a shelter were you there? Chorus

When I needed a healer were you there, were you there?
When I needed a healer were you there? Chorus

Wherever you travel I'll be there, I'll be there,
Wherever you travel I'll be there.
And the creed and the colour and the name won't matter, I'll be there.