Johan B P Maramis:
10. REACHING THE LESS FORTUNATE
It is broader sense social development embraces virtually all of ESCAPís activities. An essential component of economic development, social development concentrated on several vital areas relating to social policy development, popular participation, social welfare programs, activities for participation of youth and the integration of women in regional development plans.
The most glaring problems in Asia Pacific region were poverty, low productivity, poor health, and nutrition, and massive unemployment and /or under employment.
A landmark of ESCAPís social development Division was the second Asian and Pacific Ministerial Conference on Social Welfare and Social Development in late 1980. The Conference re-affirmed that social development must accompany economic development and the result of development could no longer be measured solely in terms of Gross National Product, with the benefit of the human individual as the end result. Development policies must aim at providing more productive employment, relieving poverty, making education, housing and health services more readily available to all, and distributing income and wealth more equitably.
The social development activities undertaken by ESCAP were part of a comprehensive and integrated effort toward regional and national development and complemented the policies and programs of member countries.
The mobilization of youth for national development focused on enhancing the welfare and status of youth and ensuring their integration in development. More specifically, it sought to increase the level of national concern with the problem of youth in national development efforts while building up trained manpower and necessary leadership to undertake youth development work.
For example, in co-operation with the World Council of Churches. ESCAP held a leadership workshop for youth leaders and workers from Papua New Guinea.
The role of women in development received ever-increasing attention and ESCAPís program for women focused on building the individual and collective self-reliance of women at grass roots level. Again the Pacific region provided a good example. Women from seven island countries received training in basic rural family and community services. Elsewhere, national co-ordinators from five Pacific island countries attended an intensive workshop on training of rural women in income-raising activities.
ESCAP also brought together successful women farmers in Tuvalu in the South Pacific to meet women on other islands. Capitalizing on such operational and demonstrational experience, ESCAP in co-operation with FAO instituted a peer-teaching methodology for use in other countries.
Meanwhile, to reach policy makers, ESCAP provided a package of services to train national planners and operational-level personnel in project identification, formulation and evaluation as well as technical and consultancy service.
The activities of ESCAP in health and development featured a series of 10-week regional training courses on planning, development and health, and a 5-week regional training seminar on primary health care. ESCAP also undertook comparative studies in areas such as community participation, and prepared planning manuals.
Of prime importance was the follow Ėup to the 1980 Copenhagen Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women. Representatives of the 12 members and associate members of ESCAP, as well as observers from French Polynesia and New Caledonia were among the participants who gathered in Fiji in October. This meeting represented the first international follow-up action of the Copenhagen Conference and it adopted a sub-regional plan of action for the United Nations Decade for Women.
In human settlement, ESCAPís future role was directed towards developing strategies aimed at upgrading existing settlements and re-directing the growth of nascent ones, acutely aggravated by massive rural-urban migration. Decentralization to the region of staff and programs from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlement (Habitat) would facilitate ESCAPís endeavours. It was hoped that the United Nations Regional housing Centre for research on Human Settlement at Bandung would be strengthened to enable them to become centres of research on housing building materials and related subjects.
Family planning was carried out on the national level in well over 30 Asia and Pacific countries, which taken together account for 90% of the regionís population. ESCAPís input to population activities may be considered as a \n element of the ďmacroĒ effort to reach and sustain the broader aspect of demographic goals through population-influencing policies and programs in three main fields, namely general demography, fertility and family planning.
ESCAP provided training for population personnel through a number of workshops, training courses and seminars and provided scholarships for advances demographic training at universities within and outside the region. It organized and supported many research projects on population in the region. Important activities included the preparation of technical reports on regional trends and characteristics in the context of social and economic development; reviews and appraisal of programme performance and comparative studies. An example was the country monographs project, which sought to analyse past present and future demographic trends in relation to socio-economic development in each country.
The main thrust of the Population Division was to show how population factors could be influenced to promote the development goals of regional countries. The division focused on the population problems in Asia and Pacific as a whole and in its sub-regions and recommended actions for their solutions.
The division worked within the parameters of the Asian and Pacific population programmes. The regional Asian Conference highlighted it and the Pacific Population Conference convened every ten years to review progress and propose further strategies and action. The divisionís three sections would implement the programme: the general demography section, the fertility and family planning section and the clearinghouse and information section.
The research projects of this section were aimed at the improvement of national and regional development strategies through a complete understanding of the relationship between development objectives, population and other factors and the use of technology and resources. The programme in 1980s included the development of economic-demographic models and analytical techniques for fertility and mortality.
The relationship between migration, urbanization and development were the subject of another project geared to migration policy-making. The improvement of vital statistics systems, and the establishment of population units in national planning bodies were the two fields for technical assistance.
This section focused on policy measures relating to fertility among the populations of the ESCAP countries. A deeper understanding of the fertility behaviour, improved management of programmes to reduce fertility, monitoring of fertility trends and levels, and improved evaluation of fertility policies and programmes were the objectives. The section contributed to a global project in comparative analysis of fertility data. Other fields of research and work were the relationship between fertility behaviour and the size, structure and function of the family, socio-psychological aspect of fertility and family planning programmes and integrated programmes with food and nutrition components.
This section aimed at establishing national clearinghouses; transferring service responsibilities to national clearinghouses; providing advice and supporting sub-regional clearing houses programmes.
In line with the Colombo Declaration which defined food as the most urgent priority, ESCAP developed an all embracing programme in the field of food and agriculture, being the backbone of development in most of the countries in the in the region.
The Agriculture Division formulated policies and activities focusing on more efficient production of the limited land under cultivation.
Major emphasis was intensification of agricultural production through an integrated strategy of development encompassing crops livestock, fisheries and forestry, followed by agro-processing and intensive by Ėproduct utilization.
ESCAP provided consultation, training and information on the socio-economic of food and agriculture.
It also analysed the agricultural policies and strategies to determine if faults could be corrected in land ownership, patterns the price policies and other related areas.
The lack of trained personnel hampered effective agriculture planning, analyses, implementation and evaluation, and therefore ESCAP undertook training activities in member countries through seminars and workshops. by organizing visits to successful agricultural projects of regional agricultural planners. It also helped the developing countries to exchange experience and transfer of technology.
ESCAP had develop several programmes aimed at increasing food supplies by diversification of agriculture, with special emphasis on coarse grain, pulses root and tuber crops (CGPRT). In addition, it was also involved in the stabilization of food supplies and prices through food security systems of the Asian Rice Trade Fund.
The Secretariat carried out studies and surveys on CGPRT crops, and assisted the regional co-ordinating centres for research and development of CGPRT crops which would begin co-operation in 1981 in Bogor, Indonesia
Food production, marketing and trade, storage and transportation were being studied to work out programs for regional co-operation in food security. The Asian Rice Trade Fund, which would help to stabilize the market for this commodity, was supported by advisory and secretarial assistance to the Fund Board of Directors.
ESCAP encouraged the use of inputs to increase smallholder crop production in the ESCAP developing countries. The assistance was in the framework of the Agricultural Requisites scheme for Asia and the Pacific.
The low level and improper use of agro-pesticides in the region had led tom waste and ineffective pest control. The scheme tried to improve the management programme and marketing practices.
A regional information network on chemical fertiliser marketing and supply and the promotion of technical co-operation in the region were implemented to improve fertiliserís supply and use.
ESCAPís responsibilities were enormous and steadily increasing as the economic and social gap between the industrially advanced countries and the large majority of
developing countries continued to widen. With its limited resources and manpower, ESCAP tried to limit the gap with its efforts described above to try to reach the poor.
It is my earnest hope that all the efforts being made by the Unites Nations Family (UN proper including ESCAP, its agencies and bodies) would assist them in their struggle to survive.
We can only hope those efforts would at least give the less fortunate rays of hope for a better future.