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The introduction of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has lifted over 400 million people globally out of poverty since its inception in 2,000 says a network of Ethiopian NGOs, Poverty Action Network of Ethiopia (PANE). No matter how impressive the result achieved so far, the world needs to do more even after the MGDs period dusks in 2015, argues the network to change the current realities of our planet for good.
“Over 35 countries have had their debts cancelled. This has increased government expenditure aimed at poverty reduction. The money that previously was used to service debt is now being diverted to develop social and economic infrastructures. Aid levels have increased steadily, on average, by 30 percent from where it was in the 1990s. New HIV/AIDS infections have been reduced by 30 percent in 2008 as compared to where it was in 1996. Big advances have been scored in TB and malaria control, and access to water. Sixty three countries out of 117 countries are on-track to control malnutrition. These are a few examples of the improvement since MDGs were launched 12 years ago,” said Eshetu Bekele, Executive Director of PANE.
The introduction of MDGs has also influenced national planning processes not only in poor countries but also in several middle income countries like Brazil and Indonesia. Clear national plans, policies and strategies that are adopted in line with the MDGs are factors behind the success story according to the network. Such a clear national policy lined up international donors behind national priorities of governments. Besides, better leadership from the top, prioritizing the allocation of domestic and external resources into a pro-poor infrastructure development sector and greater accountability and transparency at all levels have contributed their part for the success of the MDGs that have been realized so far.
“On most individual MDGs, over 40 developing countries are on track including Ethiopia. For instance Ghana and Nicaragua cut hunger by half from 1991 to 2004, Nigeria doubled production and income of farmers from 2001 to 2007, Malawi went from a food deficit of 43 percent in 2005 to 53 percent food surplus in 2007, and under five mortality rate has fallen by more than 40 percent in Malawi, Mozambique, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Niger, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bolivia and Laos. Besides, Ethiopia has placed three million more kids in school while Tanzania has two million more, doubling school enrollment in the five years from 2001 to 2006. Honduras alone reduced its maternal mortality rate by 40 percent in the years from 1990 to 2005. These are some of the scores achieved by MDGs although much needs to be done in the years to come,” he adds. The financial crisis that shacked major economies of the world, the food and climate crisis our world is experiencing and conflict in different parts of the world are among the factors cited as obstacles hindering the realization of MDGs. However, none of these factors are as strong as lack of political will in the donor community.
The resources lost through corruption by leaders of poor countries often colluding with western governments and corporations, and mindless wars fought in the last decade alone could have achieved MDGs, argue experts.
For instance, the world has spent more than USD 1.46 trillion on arms while aid was about USD 120 billion in 2008. Developed countries have poured an estimated USD 18 trillion to bail out banks from the financial crisis of 2008 while cumulative aid in the last 49 years is less than USD two trillion.
More than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by violent conflict globally, of these, over one billion are children. In the last decade an estimated 20 million children have been forced to flee their homes and more than one million have been orphaned or separated from their families by an emergency. Gender-based violence causes more deaths and disabilities among women aged 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. More than 150 million girls and 73 million boys worldwide are raped or subject to sexual violence every year. Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children are estimated to experience violence annually. Each year as many as 275 million children worldwide are estimated to witness domestic violence while 115 million children are involved in hazardous occupations.
Critics of MDGs:
Critics argue that MDGs are crafted in such a way that they can address only narrow scopes overlooking many important priorities such as reproductive health and employment, inequality within and between countries, climate change, empowerment and democratic governance, human rights, security and the protection of the most vulnerable. Its excessive emphasis on quantification is criticised.
The MDGs scorecard looks to be a remarkable achievement since its inception in 2000. However, much more needs to done in the years ahead to make the world a better place for human beings. Now, it is becoming visible that many countries in the middle and lower strata of incomes will not achieve MDGs in the coming three years. Hence, post MDGs (known as Sustainable Development Goal) issues must be crafted in a manner that solves the current reality of the world and incorporates the shortcomings of MDG.
The MDGs outlines eight goals and 48 targets to be achieved till 2015. Ethiopia is on track to achieve five of the eight intertwined goals which are: eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, and developing a global partnership for development, according to the UN.
Ethiopia is said to be lagging behind in Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women, Improving Maternal Health, and Ensuring Environmental Sustainability. The three goals targets eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education not later than 2015, reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters, between 2000 and 2015, and integrating the principles of sustainable development into the country’s policies and programs and reversing the loss of environmental resources, respectively.