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Although most African countries are lagging behind the Millennium Development Goals, now is a time to devise 2015 development agenda, urge top officials of the African Union and United Nations.
As 2015 draws near, when the UN global targets of meeting MGDs including halving extreme poverty and spread of HIV/AIDS, officials say it is becoming apparent most African countries will not meet the goals. There is good news as well. “Africa’s progress on the MDGs is gaining momentum. The continent continues to make steady progress on most of the goals,” said a recent report by the ECA which was endorsed by the AU heads of state summit in July.
The report said many African countries are on track to achieve the goal of achieving primary education with most countries reaching 90 percent. It also however conceded that for Africa ‘it is unlikely to achieve all the targets by 2015’.
“There is a reason to be pessimistic about the MDGs from the point of view that the progress has been slow on some of the goals,” said UN Deputy Secretary-general Jan Eliasson speaking to journalists on Thursday at the UN Commission for Africa (ECA).
The continent is off track to meet goals of eradicating hunger and poverty, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.
“In spite of the progress that Africa is making we are lagging behind in a number of MDGs and there is a clear indication that in a number of MDGs particularly in areas of health, nutrition and sanitation, Africa will not register significant results as to what we anticipate it should be by 2015,” said Erastus Mwencha, deputy chair of the African Union Commission, joining the UN official on Thursday’s press conference.
Experts say although Africa has experienced rapid economic growth in the past decade, it failed to reduce hunger and create enough jobs for its disgruntled youth. The slow progress has been linked to high population growth, and persistently high levels of gender and geographical inequalities.
AU’s Mwencha said the global financial and economic downturn which has slowed aid flow to African nations from developed countries is partly to be blame for the weak performance.
The UN deputy secretary said, while accelerating efforts MDGs performance before the deadline should be high on the agenda, the continent also needs to ready itself for post 2015 challenges.
Some countries are already taking the lead. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) and the UN Country Team in Ethiopia announced earlier this week that they are collaborating with stakeholders from the civil society and the private sector to organize a series of national consultations on the development goals that would feed into the global post 2015 development agenda.
While member nations will have the final say on the plan, deputy secretary-general says he expects MDGs to remain relevant in the coming decade.
“I would say that the MDGs have been a very successful tool… we need that brand… for the future,” said Eliasson. “However in post 2015 development agenda… you will need to, in my view, add sustainability.”
Eliasson said African governments need to integrate sustainability measures and economic plans to contend with scarce resource, and population growth pressure.
ECA experts say consultations with African governments have so far point toward an “MDG-plus” option; adapting the current framework to new and emerging development challenges with selected MDG areas that are said to have the greatest multiplier effects in promoting sustainable development.
The deputy secretary-general spoke on Thursday at a conclusion of a two-day meeting called to help map out post 2015 development agenda for Africa.
The meeting, which attracted over 200 representatives from the United Nations, the African Union Commission, African states, and various regional and international institutions, called for an African common position on the post 2015 development agenda.