Walking the road to eradicate poverty


Poverty is a calamity that affects millions of lives and has to be overcome in our days. For the EU, the eradication of poverty has been a key priority in its external action. Support provided by the EU has contributed to a global positive trend to put an end to the phenomenon. The global pandemic is challenging this trend. On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, it is time to reflect on how societies must come together to combat poverty across the globe.


For the past 20 years, we have witnessed a reduction in the number of people who are not able to afford basic food, clothing, health care and shelter. The impact of climate change, regional conflicts and the population growth are factors that contribute to the vulnerability of many peoples and it is due to international solidarity that we have been witnessing a positive trend.

The EU is committed to eradicating poverty and building a fairer and more stable world. Across the globe, the EU acts through its European development policy whose primary objective is poverty eradication in the context of sustainable development. In the words of the EU High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell: “Fighting poverty, improving the quality of life while protecting the planet. This is the real challenge“.

The impact of building roads

Investing in development comes in many shapes and forms, as long as it brings a concrete benefit to the populations. The EU is committed to finding solutions that ensure the response to the needs of the populations, whilst empowering populations and considering the impact in the environment that surrounds them.

One of these examples is the construction of the Milange-Mocuba road in Mozambique.

For Teresa Joaquim the construction of the road meant added stability to her livelihood and a significant improvement to her life conditions: “This changed our lives because of all the travellers. Sometimes they stop, buy a few things and continue their journey. In the old days we would sell 150 MT worth per day, but now we can sell cakes up to 500 MT, 350 MT, even 450 MT a day. And I can even get all the ingredients right here in Alto Benfica. I don’t need to travel to Mocuba anymore.”

For Rose, in Malawi, the improvement didn’t come from a new road, but from a new way to use it. Her family has benefited from the social cash transfers programme. They were able to buy Rose a bicycle which allows her to attend secondary school, more than 15 km away.

Access to education is essential to give Rose more opportunities for her future, and a step closer to achieve her dream of becoming a nurse.

When roads need to be reinforced

If a positive trend has been seen up until now, the global pandemic has created added challenges to the most vulnerable. The delicate road to eradicate poverty is become even more unstable.

In countries such as Nigeria, four in ten people live below the poverty line. This means that the pandemic has placed a large percentage of the population under threat, due to the devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods.

The EU and its Member States have acted quickly to mitigate these added risks. Together, they put into action the Team Europe package that aims to support partner countries in the fight against coronavirus and its consequences.

Recently, the EU’s Delegation in Nigeria provided food relief packages to vulnerable people in hard-to-reach communities. Local leaders were essential to identify the people most in need of assistance. A group of committed Team Europe volunteers made the journey to these remote areas, rolling up their trousers and walking barefoot for part of the path to ensure that food packages would reach the needed population.

This is one of many Team Europe stories that demonstrate the need to provide attention to the vulnerable today. It showcases the importance of solidarity that requires the participation of more.

A multilateral response is needed, and the EU has been collaborating with the United Nations and its agencies for this effect: the EU remains the world’s largest development aid donor, providing more than 50% of assistance worldwide and working closely with our partners to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It is time to call for international support to ensure that the road built so far will not collapse and that we continue our path to put an end to poverty.

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