Thursday, October 15, 2009

The uneven progress of meeting the MDGs

"Stand Up, Take Action" is an event that focuses on the Millennium Development Goals, 7 goals that governments across the world promised to achieve by 2015. There have been mixed results, and that is a big reason for the event, to show political leaders that the the people want them to take the goals seriously. Many observers have said that the biggest thing standing in the way of meeting the goals is political will.

From the IPS, reporter Evelyn Kiapi interviews Sylvia Mwichuli, deputy director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign, on goal achievement.

IPS: What MDG has seen the most dramatic progress?

SYLVIA MWICHULI: This is a general question which may hide the tremendous progress being made in individual countries. Different countries are scoring differently. Goals that may be met by one country may not be met by another and the reverse is also true.

That said, the goal of universal primary education is most likely to be met by all. According to 2008 United Nations MDGs report, by 2006 the net enrolment ratio exceeded 71 per cent in most of sub-Saharan Africa.

Great strides are being made on gender empowerment. Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Malawi and Zambia are on course to realise this goal.

Ghana and most of the North African states are on course to meet all and even surpass some of the targets.

IPS: Where has there been the most dramatic failure?

SM: There are challenges in meeting Goal Three, gender equality and women's empowerment, and Goal Five, improving maternal health.

Girls' primary education enrolment still lags behind that of boys and their dropout rates widen as they go up the ladder of education.

African women still die in great numbers while giving birth. In fact, an African woman's risk of dying from treatable or preventable complications of pregnancy and child birth is 1 in 22 compared to 1 in 7,300 in developed countries.

IPS: What are the major stumbling blocks towards the achievements of the MDGs?

SM: The major stumbling block is failure of political will by both countries of the South and those of the North.

The developed countries - except a notable few - have not kept their end of the bargain on Goal 8 (develop a global partnership for development, including dealing with debt and creating a more open, and non-discriminatory trading and financial system).

With the exception of just 16 countries, Africa's debts have not been cancelled as promised. The countries of the North have not eliminated trade barriers like tariffs on goods from Africa as promised.

And they haven't increased overseas development assistance to the levels promised, while the quality of aid is still a source of concern.

Whereas African states dedicated themselves to creating favourable conditions in their countries, a look at their national action plans and budgetary allocations, shows a lack of commitment.

Many of them think of MDGs as yet another begging opportunity. MDGs aren't about aid but (about) prioritisation and proper use of our own nationally-generated resources.

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