Human rights violations and poverty in Africa unpacked

Last week, the Community Law Centre hosted this Colloquium on Poverty and Human Rights in Africa to share evidence-based knowledge and experience on how human rights violations drive and deepen poverty in Africa.

 At this two day event various aspects of poverty were discussed. These includes women and poverty, the right to social protection and poverty reduction, child-headed households and poverty, link between food security and poverty, the role of the courts and chapter 9 institutions in poverty reduction and the link between gender inequality and poverty. The colloquium provided experts an opportunity to share evidence-based knowledge and experience on the nexus between poverty and human rights in Africa.

According to Prof Ebenezer Durojaye, the project head of the Socio-Economic Rights Project at Community Law Centre the aim of the colloquium was to raise awareness, stimulate interest, and disseminate research about the worldwide problem of poverty and human rights with a specific focus on Africa.

Participants of this colloquium included a diverse group such as scholars, researchers, human rights practitioners, national policy makers, human rights bodies and institutions and regional and multi-lateral development agencies. The keynote speaker for this colloquium was Kayum Ahmed from the South African Human Rights Commission and the welcome address was delivered by Prof. Bernard Martin, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of the Western Cape.

According to the participants of the colloquium, widespread poverty and lack of coherent governments’ responses often translate into inadequate provision of basic services, such as healthcare, sanitation and education; not to mention, armed conflicts which have been singled out as one of the determinants of poverty and human misery in Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting more than half the countries of the continent during the past two decades.

The United Nation’s Secretary-General's remarks to the UN Security Council on prevention of conflicts in Africa expounds in the situation and knowledge’s that ‘Conflicts breed where there is poor governance, human rights abuses and grievances over the unequal distribution of resources, wealth and power,”

Poverty and inequality is a constant phenomenon persists in many countries in Africa. As Africa continues to grow economically stronger, poverty and inequality remain ‘unacceptably high and the pace of reduction unacceptably slow.’ For example, for a long time South Africa had the highest measurement of income inequality in the world. This is further compounded by the global financial crisis that have has a negative impact particularly on the lives of people already in poverty.