Rudo Kwaramba-Kayombo, The executive director of One, an advocacy group championing measures to end extreme poverty spoke with Victor Kiprop on the challenges the continent is facing as it seeks to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are meant to end poverty by 2030. However, several reports have shown that we are not on track. Are these goals still achievable?
Ending poverty in the world and mainly in Africa by 2030 remains an achievable target, but only if leaders put in place proper policies and implement them with the sense of urgency that it deserves.
Good policies will not only grow investments in agriculture and meet the Malabo Commitments but also plug the leakages that cost the continent about $80 billion every year through illicit capital outflows that could be invested locally.
What is the role of education in the journey towards ending poverty?
Education is a catalyst, it unlocks potential. Once you’re more educated you are able to engage in becoming a productive labour force. We need more people with scientific knowledge and technical skills so that they can create employment and not always wait to be employed.
ONE has been pushing the “poverty is sexist” narrative lately. Tell us about it
Unfortunately because of several factors, poverty has a woman’s face on it.
For instance, women form 55 per cent of the labour force in the agricultural sector but very often they do not have ownership of the land, meaning that they don’t control the income.
We are pushing for more measures that give equal opportunities to women as men in education, industry and leadership.
As at 2016, about 30 million people who had escaped poverty were at risk of falling back. How can we not only lift people from poverty but also push them into prosperity?
This is actually a major setback in the journey towards ending poverty in the continent and this is why we launched “sustainable” development goals in 2015, which not only seek development but sustainable development.
We need to have country, community and household-driven anti-poverty initiatives that the people we are trying to pull out of poverty fully understand and own.
We need to move from just giving aid to providing loans for small businesses, so that the people can make investments and have the energy to sustain them on their own.
Many African countries have been put on the spot for investing in multi-billion infrastructure projects while a significant amount of population is hungry. What are your thoughts on this?
Many African countries suffer from mismatched priorities. The 10 per cent of GDP investment agriculture committed by African leaders in the 2003 Maputo Declaration, which only 10 of them have achieved so far is a classic example.
If we don’t invest adequately in Agriculture, our farmers will not have enough fertilisers and quality seeds; and our potential to feed ourselves and the world will never be realised.
It’s important to have good roads, railways and airports but it’s more important to be able feed your people.
Africa remains the world’s poorest continent despite being ranked the richest in terms of unutilised resources. Why?
Africa is, and will sadly remain the poorest continent for quite some time because we don’t have responsible leadership, and we as citizens are not holding them accountable.
We cannot end poverty end Africa if we still allow corrupt individuals to buy our votes, suffer through their terms are re-elect them without ever asking why they have failed to meet the commitments they made in the last elections.
Ending corruption — a major cause of poverty in Africa — was the theme of the 30th AU Heads of State Summit. What is your call?
We are calling on African leaders to move from rhetoric and actually come up with individual national action plans on how they will end corruption in their countries.
Every country should come up with plans that can be tracked and progress reported, establish mechanisms of tracking it and share the same with other stakeholders. Without such, it is difficult and to hold them accountable, and even more cumbersome to deliver on the set targets.
Background: Prior to joining ONE Rudo Kwaramba-Kayombo was the regional director for Southern Africa for World Vision International. She was responsible for leading the strategy and direction for the region, which included nine country teams.
Education: Ms Kwaramba holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Zimbabwe and a diploma from the University of Lund, Sweden.
Experience: Her career at World Vision International included national director positions in Uganda and Zimbabwe and director of advocacy communications and education in the UK.
Works: She has also worked for UNHCR and a local non-governmental organisation in Zimbabwe. In addition, she has been an executive board member for Zimbabwe Women in Law and Development in Africa.