Millennium Development Goals – halfway, timewise

by Deniz Kellecioglu, Policy and Advocacy Economist, Africa Groups of Sweden, HARARE

Today, there is a high-level meeting about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the UN headquarters in New York, USA. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2008highlevel/index.shtml

The MDGs are a set of eight overall goals for the world development, endorsed by almost all countries in the world. The overall goals are:

1.    Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2.    Achieve universal primary education
3.    Promote gender equality and empower women
4.    Reduce child mortality
5.    Improve maternal health
6.    Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7.    Ensure Environmental sustainability
8.    Develop a global partnership for development

The UN official MDG site: http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/default.aspx

MDGs globally
On a worldwide level, there are some significant improvements. Unfortunately, they are mostly concentrate to two countries: China and India. These two countries still inhabit the biggest challenges in terms of concrete development at the side of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The MDGs have been criticized severely, however. They are regarded as halfway measures from the elites, which is attached with many technical difficulties. For instance, the current global report displays many areas with developments. However, they are put in relative terms, not in absolute numbers of people. The readers are actually deceived when the population growth often outnumbers the positive developments. This is because there is a clear correlation between poverty and birth rates – the deeper poverty, the more birth rates. This, in turn, is expected for many reasons, but primarily because parents in poverty must rely on children for support in the household, especially when they are not able to work due to for instance age and/or illness.

The global report (PDF): http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2008/MDG_Report_2008_En.pdf

MDGs in Zimbabwe
In the case of Zimbabwe, there are no MDG progresses to talk about. More like the contrary, unfortunately. In addition, the UNDP and the government of Zimbabwe have not been able to finalize any mid-term report on the subject. This is, of course, due to resource limitations for ministries and the politically colored draft reports forwarded to UNDP and civil society. Now, the project seems to be shelved indefinitely.

It is simply sad – the non-commitment of global and national leaders, while things are getting worse.

The UNDP Zimbabwe short update: http://www.undp.org.zw/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=166&Itemid=9

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