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Wake-up call for Parliamentarians

world Updated: Mar 21, 2010 19:13 IST
Kumkum Chadha
Kumkum Chadha
Hindustan Times
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Beginning next week, the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) will host a two-day conference on Indigenous peoples, climate change and rural poverty in Manila, the Philippines.

To be attended by Parliamentarians from different countries, the conference aims at raising awareness and build partnerships to help eradicate rural poverty. That apart, the conference also intends to disseminate information on the impact of climate change through discussion and policy dialogue. Through the two days, deliberations will also examine innovative approaches and solutions to indigenous issues, climate change and rural poverty. Indigenous people are custodians of their own environment. Numbered at 370 million peoples in 90 countries, they total at 5 percent of the world's population and 15 percent of the world's poor.

Put simply they are one third of the world's 900 million extremely poor rural people. They suffer high rates of poverty, landlessness, and malnutrition in addition to internal displacement within society. They have lower levels of literacy and less access to health services and absolutely none to political or economic power. The conference intends to correct this and through Parliamentarians and decision makers ensure implementation of decisions taken at international levels. More often than not, lack of political will jeopardizes the intention to improve the lot of indigenous people. The conference it is expected will see action backing intent and expect Parliamentarians to use their power back home to ensure that the agenda of the marginalised is hammered enough to generate the desired results. Better still; make it a part of discussions on national budgets.

Recent IFAD researches indicate an adverse effect of climate change on agriculture. This in turn would lead to a decline in food production and increase the number of people facing hunger and malnutrition. Alarm bells are ringing and immediate and urgent steps are required to arrest this sooner than later. The indigenous peoples subsistence is highly dependent on farming, herding and fishing. Given that climate change affects the traditional food security system, it has a devastating effect on indigenous communities, The conference is being seen as an exercise in sensitization but one which if handled honestly and commitment will bring a sea change in the state and status of the world's poor. In other words, a "wake up call" for Parliamentarians and policy makers.