African school children on Friday presented a petition to the world’s top industrialized countries with a plea to help reduce poverty and give them a hope for a better future.
At the presentation of signatures to Mr. Ray Kyles, who as acting British High Commissioner holds the G8 Presidency in Kenya, the children said heavy debt burdens and rampant poverty were having a negative impact on their lives.
Celeste Masiga, an 11-year-old pupil at Nairobi’s Riara Primary school said on behalf of the children: “We as children ask the G8 to help Africa through poverty reduction, debt cancellation as well as fighting HIV/AIDS.”
The campaign aims at getting 1 million signatures from children which will then be presented to the G8 leaders. Mr. Kyles received signatures from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. The initiative is being coordinated by the Coalition of African Organizations for Food Security and Sustainable Development, the African Medical and Research Foundation, Action Aid and Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT one of 17 eminent persons serving on the Commission for Africa constituted by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair.
COASAD Director Professor F. Mwaura said that the developed world owed it to Africa to help pull it out of poverty. Alleviating poverty, he said, would help the continent’s young people avoid being recruited into terrorist organizations or turning to drug trafficking. Mr. Kyles said a lot of G8 programmes were aimed at issues dealing with children. The United Kingdom was keen to make other G8 members shore up the development aid they were giving Africa. Campaigns by the West on good governance in Africa were yielding fruit with more countries embracing democratic ideals, he added.
The Group of Eight industrialized nations was formed in 1975 when President Giscard d'Estaing of France invited the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries to discuss the economic problems of the day. It later expanded to include Canada in 1976 and Russia in 1998. Unlike many other international bodies, the G8 does not have a fixed structure or a permanent administration. It is up to the country holding the rotating presidency to set the agenda and organize the annual G8 Summit. During the UK’s Presidency throughout 2005, the chosen themes are Africa and Climate Change.