The United Nations issued a stark warning about worsening economic and socialconditions in black Africa on Tuesday, just as George W. Bush, USpresident, began a five-day tour of the continent.The UN Development Programme painted a sombre picture of a developmentcrisis in which sub-Saharan Africa was being left behind the rest of the world,including other poverty-ridden regions such as South Asia.While Mr Bush set out to highlight American aid and trade initiatives for Africa,the UNDP said there was "an urgent need to change course". It challenged richcountries to improve assistance and open their markets to developing nations.Its annual Human Development Report warned that at current rates black Africawould take another 150 years to reach some of the development targets agreed byUN members for 2015."Unless things improve it will take sub-Saharan Africa until 2129 to achieveuniversal primary education, until 2147 to halve extreme poverty and until 2165 tocut child mortality by two thirds. For hunger no date can be set because theregion's situation continues to worsen."Mark Malloch Brown, the UNDP chief, said: "We should all be asking what itwould take to achieve (the goals), not what we can afford to do."Mr Bush, completing the first leg of his Africa tour in Senegal before flying on toSouth Africa, on Tuesday pledged US help to avert a further humanitarian disasterin Liberia, where Washington is under pressure to send troops.In addition to multi-billion dollar programmes for tackling HIV/Aids and helping reform-minded developing states, he is promoting extra US funding for faminerelief and anti-terrorism measures.The US is the biggest provider of aid in absolute terms, but it is one of the meanestin terms of its wealth, devoting just over 0.1 per cent of its gross domestic product,the lowest among OECD members. Only four OECD countries - Denmark,Norway, the Netherlands and Luxembourg - provide more than the internationallyagreed target of 0.7 per cent.While most of the world's economies expanded in the 1990s, people in 54developing countries had become poorer, with the largest number of thesecountries in Africa, the report said.Rich countries had "enormous scope" to expand market access and promoteimports by reducing tariffs and subsidies, it said.
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