EU-Africa: call for a ‘Summit of Dialogue’ with civil society and NGOs

Empowerment of women through family and childbirth planning. This is the key goal of the Human Development fund approved in the EU 2018 budget and concretely activated through a substantive increase by 12.5mln Euro fund for Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI).

Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia count for 99% of all maternal deaths in developing countries: in these areas every day 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. The figures itself explain and justify the priority of the agenda setting of the African Year for the EU.

The concerning decrease in number of women using methods of contraception from 43mln in 2013/2014 to 13.2mln in 2014/2015 (EU report 2016), shows how the actual deliverability of the plan meets the stumbling block of tribal, cultural, religious, political/regime, work exploitation, child labour exploitation; all issues leading to women’s underdevelopment and deprivation of basic rights. Figures from WHO show in developing countries 214mln women of reproductive age have no access to, or are prevented from, using modern contraceptive methods.

Though the European Parliament approved the 2018 budget including an amendment calling for the increase in human development, concerns remain over how and through which organisations the fund will reach its final recipient: the poor, women and children enslaved and trapped in the tribal societies, children who can’t go to primary school because enslaved in child labour. A clear path excluding local governments and bodies from managing funds is necessary to the effective delivery of education, youth empowerment, health and gender equality through sexual and reproductive health and rights promotion.

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The EU-African Union Summit last 30 November 2017 addressed heads of states and diplomatic bodies. But NGOs and civil society have been excluded from the debate. Both civil society associations and representatives and also NGOs are vital part of the process of funds delivery and implementation of the human development plan. They are the only guarantee funds are not misled, misused or literally stolen by local corruption. Their exclusion has been seen by many as an intimidation. We call then for inclusion of those able to help women and children in loco.

International NGOs such as Save the Children, soon after the Summit, denounced their exclusion in a joint letter issued by Concord Europe. International NGOs, civil society representations and African civil society organisations, though scheduled in the EU-AU summit agenda, have been ”barred” from speaking. It is no surprise African Union countries’ governments exclude civil society and NGOs from any debate, but it is actually hard to accept the EU allowed this to happen.

London 10 Jan 2018

Emy Muzzi