Reducing Poverty: There is still work to be done - the main theme of the UN Day in 2007 in Kyrgyzstan

24 October 2007

BISHKEK 24th October is celebrated every year worldwide as United Nations Day. The UN agencies in Kyrgyzstan will use this date this year to draw the attention of society to issues of poverty reduction in the Republic.

This year, poverty reduction has been chosen as the main theme of our UN Day events in Kyrgyzstan as it is an issue relevant for all: Government, private sector, international community, civil society and UN, explains Neal Walker, UN Resident Coordinator in Kyrgyzstan, poverty reduction underpins all our work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The UN Day 2007 in Kyrgyzstan will be marked by three linked events: a poverty reduction forum, a poverty awareness lunch and an exhibition of community products. All three events will take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which generously is providing the venue for free, and was chosen as the ideal venue to ensure involvement of the international business community in this important cause.

At 9:00 a.m. the Poverty Reduction Forum will be opened in the Hyatt Hotel. It will enable discussion of recent successes in the area of poverty reduction in the Kyrgyz Republic and the challenges that remain, emphasizing that poverty reduction is not just the Governments concern; it is the duty of every responsible citizen, business and community.

Poverty is one of the most acute challenges that Kyrgyzstan faces and it has an integrated affect on the general situation in the country. Despite recent economic growth, Kyrgyz society is still marked by stark inequalities, and the overall poverty rate remains high at 43% (2006), with disparities between rural and urban populations, and persistently high rates of poverty among women, children, youth, and other vulnerable groups.

The poverty awareness lunch, which starts at 1:00 p.m. in the Hyatt Hotel Shayr Ballroom is the most unusual event. The participants will exchange their lunch ticket for a randomly drawn lottery ticket, which will determine which type of lunch the participant will receive, representing typical nutrition for one of three income groups: extreme poor, poor and above the poverty line.

The event aims to highlight the facts around of poverty levels in the Republic. Tables will be divided geographically, one representing each oblast, with the proportion of participants eating each of three types of lunch divided according to the poverty statistics for that particular oblast. There will be a separate table to show the situation of children. Child poverty is much higher than that of the overall adult population, as elsewhere in the world.

Any profits from the sale of tickets will support the participation of small producers from across the county to exhibit their innovative products at the exhibition of community products that will run in parallel to the poverty reduction forum and poverty awareness lunch.

The exhibition, poverty reduction forum and poverty awareness lunch are expected to help to disseminate accurate and up-to-date information on trends with respect to poverty, including rural-urban contrasts and the situation of specific vulnerable groups leading to a broader awareness of the issues. They will also highlight and share best practice and achievements in poverty reduction and motivate poverty reduction efforts by bringing together poverty activists and social entrepreneurs with donors, investors and decision makers.

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