- Amnesty International (AI) has accused governments failing to make a concerted effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of abusing the human rights of the poorest in society.
The group's criticism came ahead of a United Nations Summit later this month that will see heads of states meeting to review the progress on MDGs.
According to Amnesty International (AI) over a billion people living in informal settlements continue to be excluded in the MDG plans. It says the goals on informal dwellings focused on improving the lives of only a 100-million informal dwellers.
To read the article titled, “MDGs exclude the poorest of the poor,” click here.
- African leaders say they could do more to meet United Nations (UN) goals to slash extreme poverty and urged stronger leadership among developing countries to tackle hunger and disease and attract investment.
Speaking at the UN poverty summit in New York, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, pointed out that if Africa fails to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the world would have failed.
In the same vein, UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, announced a multibillion-dollar strategy to boost women's and children's health.
To read the article titled, “African leaders urge action on poverty goals,” click here.
- Most countries in Africa are not on course to meet most of the targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but on the level of policy, the goals have forced African governments to more seriously address their roles in alleviating poverty on the continent compared to past.
Since the inception of the MDGs in 2005, progress has been made in some African countries in relation to their specific realities, but much more needs to be done.
The MDGs have undoubtedly influenced government budget plans in several countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Malawi. The goals have also impacted on increased allocation of resources to such sectors as water and health care in most East African countries.
So if one is to assess the impact of the MDGs in broader terms, it would be safe to say that they have contributed to the movement towards eradicating poverty, but at a slow rate.
Two Crucial MDGs for Africa
The two most crucial goals for Africa in my view are Goals 1 (ending poverty and hunger) and 2 (universal education). But one cannot speak of Goal 2 leaving out Goal 3 (gender equality).
Goal 1 enables people to make an income so that they can feed themselves and care for themselves. So if progress is made on enabling people to feed themselves and earn a decent income, this will lead to higher government revenues which can then be invested in achieving other goals.
Progress also has to be made on agriculture and agricultural productivity. An active agricultural community can have direct access to food and increase their incomes. Given that a majority of Africans are still working the land, this will reduce income poverty directly.
Failure to have active economies for poor people means that the only way to achieve the MDGs is to rely on international aid.
International aid is useful if well used and if it comes with less damaging strings attached, but is often very unreliable, especially in Africa.
It is sometimes good and most of the times bad. So Africans need to achieve Goal 1 so that they can stop relying on other people for sustenance.
Goals 2 and 3 are important because one cannot transform a population on the back of illiteracy and repressive gender relations.
All the goals are linked and one cannot address one goal without taking into consideration the other goals. The strength of the MDGs lies in their attempt to create a comprehensive approach to poverty eradication.
Citizens must take initiative
To ensure that progressive steps towards poverty eradication are taken, citizens need to be aware that governments made a commitment to their people to achieve the MDGs.
If the people do not put pressure on the governments to act, then the government officials can easily relax and not prioritise the MDGs.
Holding governments accountable and putting pressure on them is the most important thing that citizens should do in order to ensure that their needs are met.
African citizens should also try and work with their local governments as they are closer to the grassroots level problems than national governments.
But even if the citizens themselves become active in trying to push for their needs to be heard, there are major hindrances that lie in their way.
One such obstacle is the legacy of twenty years of liberalisation ideology. African countries adopted structural adjustment programmes which are now affecting them drastically. These programmes encouraged governments to privatise everything and to free capital and markets from regulation.
Governments were discouraged from supporting their farmers and their small and medium-sized industries indirectly. Alongside this, there were encouraged to throw open their markets to imports in the belief that import competition will lead to efficiency. A belief which has no historical precedence and yet the African policy elite bought wholly into it.
These market-oriented ideologies are the ones that are making African states fail to protect their people economically. Most states have very liberal markets that allow imported products to suffocate the local products. So this liberalisation ideology then acts as a hindrance to self sustainability.
The other big obstacle is the existence of corruption within our African states. The government officials who used to be so disciplined in the days of the nationalist leaders of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda are now thinking it is okay to privatise parts of government to their own private companies, thus making the people who run the government key stakeholders in the private sector too.
Corruption will always affect the distribution of funds and resources to achieve poverty alleviation and that is why it is necessary to ensure effective public oversight over government expenditures.
Nevertheless, public investment is crucial to making progress in poverty eradication as this is necessary to provide infrastructure, train the work force for health education etc, invest in value-added production and provide direct employment.
China is a good example of poverty eradication through the use of government-centred investments.
UNMC role in progress
The United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) is trying to do three things over the next 3 years to try and accelerate the progress on MDGs in Africa.
First is the mobilisation of people, including through youth movements and gender equality movements and civil societies so as to put pressure on the governments to keep their promises.
Second is monitoring, UNMC is trying to find ways in which they can work with citizen groups to monitor that resources that are meant to be spent in order to achieve the MDGs.
Thirdly, the UNMC is focusing on policy. The UNMC wants to start discussions on the issues of Africa¹s ability to transform their economies, create decent jobs and put incomes in the hands of the poor. Most governments in Africa believe that they can grow through aid and natural resource extraction, but this does not do anything for job creation and sustainable income generation.
Despite the slow progress on the MDGs in Africa, some countries such as Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and many more have made good progress in the education and health sectors. A few, such as Malawi, Ethiopia and to some extent Kenya (before the election-related violence), have also made significant progress in the area of agriculture and food production.
Increased intra-Africa trade (especially in East Africa) has contributed greatly to the management of hunger and food shortages.
If more countries can start to engage in intra-Africa trade they would be helping themselves because this will create larger markets to support the expansion of local production, not only in food and agriculture but also in low-technology manufacturing and value-added services.
African countries should start opening up doors to each other so that they can share and trade effectively among each other. This way acceleration on achieving the MDGs can be realised. But this will require rolling back on the extreme import liberalisation regimes, reinstating industrial policy to promote value-added production and innovation and increased public investment to address the problem of skills and infrastructure.
Above all, it will require a rethinking of the role of state in the economy and society generally, what others call a developmental state - one dedicated to intervening in society minimise rent-seeking and encourage value addition, to redirect rents including natural resource rents to benefit the poor and the productive sectors and a system of taxation that is effective and equitable, among others.
- Charles Abugre is Deputy Director for Africa of the United Nations Millennium Campaign. This article was first published by Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa and is republished with its permission. (http://ipsnews.net).
- The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has called on the results-based approach if African countries are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Speaking to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation on the sidelines of the MDG Summit in New York, NEPAD’s head of planning and coordinating agency, Ibrahim Mayaki, also argued that there will be no reductions in poverty without reductions in inequality first.
Mayaki states that: "Poverty is absolutely linked to inequality, so by reducing inequality, you reduce poverty so when you have socio-economic strategies which do not take into account the reduction of inequality, it is harder to attain the MDGs".
To read the article titled, “NEPAD calls for results based approach to achieve MDGs,” click here.
- The United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, says a lack of political will has led to poor progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Speaking ahead of next week’s High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, Ban says it is very disturbing that not a single country in the sub-Saharan region is on the right track.
“Even though there are some pillars where they have been making progress, we really want developing countries and their leaders to put greater emphasis on MDGs and enhance good governance,” he explains.
To read the article titled, “Lack of political will hindering progress on MDGs,” click here.Source:SABC News
- “Include us or fail” - Civil society groups warn of looming MDG failure without equal partnership
Johannesburg. 16 September 2010. The lack of reference to civil society and its role in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals by key decision makers is a major barrier to progress in achieving them within the next five years. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation believes that the MDGs cannot be achieved without recourse to democratic freedoms and political processes that support the participation of citizens and civil society.
In the lead up to the high-level Summit in New York on the MDGs, the outcome document drafted by UN member states contains scant reference to the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) particularly in the section on MDG 8, which speaks to a global partnership for development. The Summit, which is taking place from 20-22 September is expected to be attended by a galaxy of world leaders meeting to discuss strategies to accelerate progress on the MDGs between now and 2015. Leading civil society activists have warned that systemic restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association and assembly which are the lifeblood of civil society are preventing CSOs from discharging their responsibility to engender greater transparency and responsiveness in official actions.
"Civil society is crucial but it is under threat,” Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and member of The Elders group of eminent global leaders told Every Human Has Rights (hosted by CIVICUS).. "We need to ensure the voices of civil society are heard."
"They are the reality check, the accountability people and their voice is absolutely essential if we are going to ensure that we can deliver on the Millennium Development Goals."
Her comments echoed concern about the “serious worsening” of human rights voiced by over 500 leading civil society members at the CIVICUS World Assembly in Montreal last month.
CSOs independently evaluate whether objectives set by governments are met, and shape public opinion in holding government agencies to account for failing to deliver at the local, national and international level. In many instances, CSOs take responsibility for actual delivery of services and assure representation of all voices in development strategies – including of those most affected by the non-achievement of the MDGs.
“The attitude of governments across the board so far has been to limit civil society to simply being a vehicle for service delivery and restrict its ability to question and shape public policy,” laments Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General and CEO of CIVICUS. “Trends from Cape Town to Cairo, Managua to Manila and New Delhi to Moscow indicate that civil society organisations are increasingly being thwarted in their efforts to ensure transparency and accountability of government agencies, through restrictive legal measures and undemocratic practices.”
The MDGs are eight international development goals that all UN member states and at least 23 international organisations agreed to achieve by 2015. The MDGs cover a wide range of issues that are basic to human existence such as eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, improving maternal health, reducing child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. They also include aspirations to significantly improve the quality of our lives like promoting gender equality and empowering women and achieving universal primary education. Notably, they incorporate two concerns on which the collective well being of humanity rests i.e ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world.
CIVICUS hosts the Every Human Has Rights campaign which features a series of interviews with members of the Elders on poverty and human rights.
For more information please contact CIVICUS:
EHHR Campaign Officer
Tel: +27 11 833 5959
- Reliance on aid to guarantee our dignity through the Millennium Development Goals was a huge mistake, and raising more funds to bridge the resource gap without closing the leaking tap is like pouring water into a bucket full of holes.
In September 2000, the world’s Heads of State and Government adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration. Subsequent to the Declaration numerous international agreements and commitments were made to increase aid and provide debt relief in order to speed up the implementation of the MDGs. African Monitor has been tracking the performance on these commitments through the issuance of an annual Development Support Monitor (DSM). The 2010 DSM has just been published and highlights the following regarding the prospects for the attainment of the MDGs:
Firstly, delivery on aid commitments has recorded a steady increase from 2004 through 2009. While it is a positive trend, it has created a tendency to focus more on aid in terms of the resources needed for the realisation of the MDGs than on other sources. The recent global financial crisis has come as a rude shock to remind us that this was a distortion and huge mistake. While this is worrying, it is also timely and calls us to pay due attention to the other side of the resource coin.
The DSM implores the continent to take its eyes beyond aid to the real resources that Africa is richly endowed with.
Firstly, its people. By sheer numbers, the continent should be leading in global economic recovery and growth. The continent has close to a billion people, the majority of whom are in the young and productive age group. They are hard-working women and energetic youth in their prime. Entrepreneurs from outside the continent view this with glee as ‘a huge market opportunity’ for export of their products. As Africans we need to see this as a huge resource for the realisation of the MDGs - within our own continent we have the human capacity to secure our own dignity.
Unfortunately, investment prioritisation of this incredible resource is not always commensurate with the opportunities it presents. A recent study commissioned by African Monitor for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has noted that while there seems to be support for investment in the productive sector, the share of allocation to sectoral programmes directly linked to MDGs such as agriculture, nutrition, health, gender equality and youth employment is low. Take HIV/AIDS as an example. While an estimated 40 percent of the world’s people affected by HIV/AIDS live in SADC, an allocation of only 1.9 percent of the aid package goes to HIV/AIDS-related programmes.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, was recently quoted as saying “let us invest in woman. This is where we need progress the most.... until women and girls are liberated, poverty and injustice and all that goes with it such as peace, security and sustainable development stand in jeopardy.” Again, investments to these sections of society are not commensurate to the need.
Secondly, it is investing in the mainstay economy. Almost without exception more than 70 percent of African people live in rural areas and get their livelihoods from smallholder farming and activities in what is commonly known as the informal sector. The SMEs which have significant growth potential to help create a rising middle class faces government-imposed obstacles that make one wonder where the priorities of our governments lie. They face red-tape and high compliance costs, and lack access to finance and markets, because we prefer to import and consume what we do not produce. If we are to become more serious about securing our people’s dignity, the other name for MDGs, we must prioritise the already vibrant and resilient mainstay aspects of the economy – the smallholder farming and informal activities that sustain millions.
The 2010 Development Support Monitor (DSM) and Citizens Consultation on Africa’s Development Agenda 2010 and Beyond, another African Monitor report, chronicle ordinary peoples voices - their analysis, aspirations, hopes, expectations, and determinations.
The findings indicate two things; firstly that Africa is not in a hopeless situation. Five major causes of hope and excitement about Africa were identified through Citizen’s Consultations, in stark contrast to the doom, gloom and disaster that is beamed into and out of Africa on a constant basis.
Some of these include the creativity, wisdom, and ingenuity among African communities in their fight against poverty. Africa had and still has cultural values and knowledge in science, medicine, technology and agriculture, which can be used for the development of the continent. We have not valued them adequately and as a result we think that we can only survive by begging from those we helped to develop. As an African saying goes, ‘it is ignorance that makes the chicken go to bed hungry while sitting in the bucket of corn’. Worse still, those values and knowledge are being lost to successive generations, because there is no systematic way of passing them on, while the education curricula used in our system is undermining these very treasures.
Thirdly, it is the triple contributions of the Diaspora. The two reports cite the enormous contribution that the African Diaspora is making to the transformation of the continent. To date the Diaspora is known for its remittances, which are enormous, having reached US$40 billion in 2008, surpassing official development assistance and foreign direct investment. Beyond this, the reports highlight the skill and technological contribution as well as the entrepreneurial and institution building the Diaspora is making. “Just like as it has happened in India and China”, the Citizen Consultation report argues, “African Diaspora is already beginning to play leading roles in transforming Africa.
Significant numbers of highly skilled professionals from the Diaspora are taking advantage of the economic growth and infrastructural upgrades to start business in high growth African economies”. These entrepreneurs are promoting a new culture of private sector innovation that is reinvigorating African economies and entrenching positive social capital conducive to democracy and civility. This has not been the business of guest commercial entities. To realise the twin aspirations of development and good governance, we should create the enabling environment to attract back African entrepreneurs and capital in the Diaspora.
Lastly, is the thorny issue of reverse flows. I am horrified by the statistics in the 2010 DSM that in addition to exporting value in the form of primary commodities, up to today the resources in cash and smart money leaving the continent far outstrip those coming in and this phenomenon is conveniently often less discussed. Africa is haemorrhaging, the severity of which may be the primary cause for Africa’s failure to make sufficient progress in reducing poverty and meeting the MDGs. Other causes, such as donor broken promises, are important but surely they are only secondary.
Raising more funds to bridge the resource gap without closing the leaking tap is again like pouring water into a bucket full of holes. Of course some of this outflow is legitimate - business and rich people taking their money out in order to manage risk, for example. However, the bulk of the loss is illicit - individuals and large corporations, in particular using illegal invoicing measures to conceal profits or to evade taxes, facilitated and maintained by the presence of tax havens in rich countries where secrecy prevails. The volume of these resources is staggering and on the upward trend. Attend to this and we are on the trajectory to the full realisation of the MDGs.
The two reports present concrete proposals as to how to go about this. To download copies, please visit www.africanmonitor.org.
- Archbishop Njongo Ndungane is President and Founder of African Monitor and the article is based on two recently published reports on Making MDGs attainable and their outcomes sustainable. For more information, please contact African Monitor on +27 217132802; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ahead of the United Nations Millennium Development Summit to be held in New York later this month, the UN Foundation and its partners have ramped up efforts to educate the media about progress that has been made on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) thus far and what still needs to be done before the 2015 target date for achieving them.
At a press fellowship hosted by the UN Foundation, sponsored in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, journalists from various global media organisations were brought together to talk about the MDGs with a wide range of policymakers and presenters.
The presenters discussed ways the MDGs have helped to attract, gain and sustain attention around a coherent global development agenda.
To read the article titled, “Giving the Millennium Development Goals a human face,” click here.
- Save the Children UK (Liberia) has called on African governments to send at least 15 percent of their national budget on health in order to meet the target they set in 2015.
In a statement under the signature of Sarthak Pal Deputy, director programmes Save the Children Liberia Programme the Day of the African Child marks the start of a 100-day global period of action that has the potential to prevent millions of children’s deaths.
The organisation has called for the international community to support and train four million more health workers and to help countries like Liberia produce and implement realistic plans to save the lives of many more of their poorest children and mothers.
To read the article titled, “Save the Children Wants 15 percent of budget on health,” click here.
- The Africa Progress Report 2010, launched on 25 May 2010 in Johannesburg by the Africa Progress Panel (APP), states that African leaders need to boost “political determination and capacity to use what revenues they have to achieve results for people”.
Kofi Annan, Chair of the Panel and fellow Panel members Linah Mohohlo, Peter Eigen and Olusegun Obasanjo presented the Africa Progress Report on Africa Day – five years since the establishment of the Panel and 10 years since world leaders signed up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The report, titled "From Agenda to Action - Turning Resources into Results for People", takes stock of Africa’s progress since 2005 and assesses future opportunities for the continent.
The report calls on African leaders to turn the “scramble for Africa” into real results for the continent, and states that progress is being made despite not because of governance. The Panel wants action from policy-makers to translate continent’s “immense resources” into concrete benefits for its people.
This landmark report argues that Africa’s future is in its own hands, but that success in managing its own affairs depends on supportive global policies and agreements,” Annan said. “There is no lack of resources, no deficiency of knowledge and no shortage of plans. Africa’s progress rests above all else on the mobilisation of political will, both on the continent and internationally.”
The report, focusing on Africa’s emergence as a “new economic frontier”, notes that economic engagement with the Global South - China, the Far and Middle East, South Asia and Latin America - “is already having a substantial development impact on Africa”. However, the report asserts that “Africans beyond elite circles are not benefiting sufficiently” while at the same time “there is great scope to improve Africa’s partnerships with the Global South”. The report also notes that “African leaders... need to realize that the benefits of increasing economic ties are not automatic, but only accrue to those that take adequate and pro-active steps to exploit them through targeted policies.”
To read the full media release about the report, click here.
To read the full report, click here.Source:<br />