Magazine article UN Chronicle

The MDGs in the African Region: Efforts Need to Be Scaled Up to Accelerate Development

Magazine article UN Chronicle

The MDGs in the African Region: Efforts Need to Be Scaled Up to Accelerate Development

Article excerpt

The midpoint to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)--the time-bound and quantified targets, agreed by world leaders at the 2000 Millennium Summit, for improving the human condition and ensuring gender equality and environmental sustain-ability--was reached in September 2007. Many publications in the run-up to that milestone, including the report of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Assessing Progress in Africa towards the Millennium Development Goals, 2007, show that the continent is most unlikely to reach all the MDGs by the target date. This has generated considerable concern within Africa and among its development partners, and has set in motion a number of actions to accelerate the continent's growth and development to achieve these Goals.

Currently, the aggregate scorecard on Africa's progress towards the MDGs shows that less than 20 countries are on track to meeting a significant number of the Goals, with the strong performers concentrated in northern Africa. However, there have been positive developments in recent years. The ECA report indicates quite clearly that progress is being made across the continent in a number of areas. In most countries, there has been an improvement in hunger conditions; in all 46 countries for which data were available, there was a decrease in the proportion of people suffering from hunger. Indeed, some countries, such as Djibouti, Gabon and Ghana, have already achieved the target of halving this proportion, and many others were assessed as likely to meet that target before 2015.

Furthermore, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July 2007, shows that "the number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has levelled off and that poverty rate has declined by nearly six percentage points since 2000". There have also been significant improvements in net enrolment ratio in primary education, and in gender equality and women's empowerment. Indeed, sub-Saharan Africa recorded the largest share of women in parliament between 1990 and 2007.

But the data also give reasons for concern, as they indicate that a lot more needs to be done in the region to accelerate growth and development in order to achieve the MDGs. The goals on gender equality and maternal health are of special concern. While many countries have made some progress towards the official target of improving gender parity in education, the overall levels remain low, especially in higher education. Other dimensions of gender equality--equitable access to health facilities and basic infrastructure, such as water, energy and roads, to reduce the burden of poverty, and political and economic participation of women and girls--show even less progress. Such gender inequalities also slow progress towards the achievement of the MDGs. However, there is no reason to be despondent. The data also show that the challenge of meeting the MDGs on the continent is not insurmountable if both national and international policy measures are scaled up in a number of critical areas. This was the focus of the 2007 ECA Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which came up with recommendations. The prerequisites for such scalingup efforts exist.

First, there continues to be a strong, broad and sustained commitment to the MDG agenda, particularly at the highest decision-making level. In 2005, African Heads of State adopted the African Common Position on the MDGs, which was subsequently presented to the 2005 UN World Summit and the G8 Gleneagles Summit. The African Union reiterated this commitment at the 2006 Banjul Summit and underpinned it by adopting concrete measures to scale up efforts. At its 2007 Accra Summit, the African Union adopted a resolution urging member countries to intensify efforts to achieve the MDGs by the target date. Since 2005, Africa's ministers of finance, economic planning and development, as well as the key sector ministries, have consistently placed the MDGs at the centre of their conferences and meetings. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.