The Millennium Development Goals or MDGs are set of goals agreed by world leaders way back in 2000 as basis of measuring work around eradicating poverty by 2015. The 8 goals are listed as follows
- Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
- Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
- Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
- Goal 5: Improve maternal health
- Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
- Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
We are 5 years away and as I write world leaders are heading to New York for a Summit to review the MDGs (20-22 September) and our own Nick Clegg is amongst them. This should an interesting meeting for the UK whilst it has pledged 0.7% of its GDP to AID to the developing nations and ring fenced its International Development budget others are feeling so generous.
These folk will be preoccupied with the fact that we are only 5 years away from the deadline and it is very clear that some countries especially in Sub-Saharan Africa stand no chance of meeting/achieving these goals.
WHY IS THIS AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ENSURE THAT THE GOALS ARE MET?
I think the reasons why are complex and I suspect it is not simply about unwillingness on anyone’s part to make this work. So my take on the matter goes as follows
In the years since the goals were agreed the world has suffered the biggest recession in decades and this has without a doubt hit the BOTTOM BILLION the hardest.
By July last year it was reported that France and Italy had failed to honour their pledge of AID to the developing world. I have no evidence that this was due to the recession but I would not be surprised if it was. As the Airline safety procedure says “put on your own mask before assisting someone else” Would it be reasonable to expect France and Italy to send money to foreign lands without first meeting the needs of their own citizens?
War on Terror
On September 11 2001 America became a victim of the worst terrorist attack in history and we are still feeling the effects of this today. As well as the human cost they were financial costs until today. Only a few months ago the terrorists raised the stakes by attacking and killing at least 76 people in Kampala whilst they were watching the World cup finals. These terrorist attacks in my mind derail progress. I had a conversation with someone the other day who told me that they would not invest in Uganda as following those attacks on July 7th Uganda is now considered an unsafe investment destination. But not only that resources that could have been spent on addressing the goals are now diverted to the security of the country or fighting Al-shabab to be exact
Remittances: Each day millions of people migrate in search of better economic prospects and when they do find paid most will send (remit) a percentage of their income to those left behind. According to the World bank this amounted to $305 billion in 2008 but was forecast to reduce to $290 billion in 2009. A lay man’s explanation the diaspora (folk who remit the money) faced unemployment or reduced pay and in fact for some the situation got so bad that they returned to their home countries as they could not afford to sustain themselves and the folk back home under the economic downturn.
The reduction in remittances is catastrophic as this money goes directly into folks pockets and gives them spending power and economies in the developing world rely heavily on this money that is reportedly higher than any amount of AID and Private sector investment (source World bank). This money pays for school fees, health care and in some cases enables folk to start small enterprises. You will note that all these are directly linked to first 6 Goals.
Another reason why the MDGs will not be met is laid right at the door step of African leaders. Africa is not poor in as far as resources are concerned but why are resources termed as a curse? The fight for control of resources has led to years of civil wars and unrest in several Sub-Sahara countries such as CHAD. African leaders have a responsibility to ensure that resources are used for the benefit of all citizens and if this were to happen countries like Democratic Republic of Congo would not be a hell on earth for Women and children.
TIME TO STOP TALKING
Unless we stop talking and get down to some hard work such Summits as the one being convened by Ban Ki-Moon risk becoming talking shops. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE CAMERAS ARE SWITCHED OFF?
I know the Commission for Africa has called for more Aid to Africa, but I think that is not necessarily the answer. Aid does have a role to play in emergencies and structural development but is limited in scope and we need to recognize that.
If we can send troops to get rid of the Talibans lets make African leaders more accountable!
African countries need to make trade with each other easier, they are more consumers in Africa than they are in Europe for instance, therefore the focus on trade must include trading with each other and not simply access to Western markets. As the new report from the Commission for Africa points out- African leaders should make the investment climate conducive to investment and this is not necesarrily for investors in the west alone.
WE AFRICANS MUST RECOGNIZE TOO THAT IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY THAT THE GOALS ARE MET AND NOT WAIT FOR SOME EXTERNAL FORCES TO DO IT FOR US.
Finally the West should recognize Africa as potential economic partner and not simply a place from which to fetch resources!
so there you have it folk. If you have a view kindly share it here