29 Jun 2007

Vanuatu Cabinet minister wants aid focus on rural areas to remain despite Australian call

6:20 pm on 29 June 2007

Vanuatu's Finance Minister Willie Jimmy says the focus of overseas aid assistance in his country should remain on rural development.

His comments come after the Australian government was this week told to realign its overseas development aid by focusing on poor people in cities, rather than rural areas.

This week's launch of the United Nations Population Fund update was told policies targeting the urban poor are more likely to help countries such as Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

But Mr Jimmy says if poverty is reduced through economic growth, development and services need to be addressed in the rural areas where 80 percent of Vanuatu's population lives.

"Those are the very people that we intend to provide services for. And if they (aud donors) are directing their aid mainly to urban people, then it is only benefitting less than tweny percent of the people in Vanuatu which I conside totally inappropriate. We should be focussing more on assisting the rual populatinorather than the urbanisation."