By suzannei on September 23, 2011
With only a few years until 2015 progress on meeting the Millennium Development Goals targets is mixed and much work still needs to be done. Jaci Smith, Peace Education Advisor, reports.
Some of you may have been expecting an article promoting the Stand Up and Take Action Against Poverty campaign and encouraging you to get involved. It is that time of year, but this year the campaign isn’t happening, not because the MDG targets have been reached, but because it would seem that the focus of many NGOs is now post 2015 (see www.Beyond2015.org)
That’s not to suggest that the MDG battle has been won. There is still much to be done and with the global economic downturn and budget cuts happening nationally, the UK government is coming under increasing pressure to abandon its commitment to ring-fence international aid.
So, we are encouraging Friends to keep up the momentum with regard to the MDGs and let politicians know we see it as a moral duty that Britain does not neglect its commitment to the worlds’ poor and vulnerable.
We suggest that Friends write to their MP highlighting their support for government action so far, outlining the key issues in relation to MDGs and requesting they encourage Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development to resist the call to abandon the ring-fencing of aid. A template letter for this is available on the website at: http://www.quaker.org.uk/millennium-development-goals-suggested-letter-your-mp
We also suggest writing to your newspapers outlining the key issues in relation to global development and sustainability. The aim being to raise awareness among the general public about the importance of UK support for global development and to increase support within civil society.
You may want to use the template letter and adapt it using some of the facts and figures below.
So what’s the picture on the MDGs?
Progress in relation to MDGs has been made in some areas, but there is still much work to be done. In every region there are challenges and those targets that remain far outweigh those that have been achieved.
Many of the goals will be missed if the current trends continue and in several areas there has been deterioration. The most vulnerable and hardest to reach are still being failed, in particular those disadvantaged by gender, ethnicity, age and disability. Also, the disparity between progress in rural and urban areas is marked, in particular with regard to sanitation where the better off have benefited disproportionally1.
Some progress has been made due to unprecedented economic growth in Asia. In particular economic growth in those countries with large populations, such as India and China, has had a significant impact in positively skewing the outcomes and globally it is the easy-to-reach populations that have benefited most.
In Southern Asia malnourishment in children is the highest in the world. Poor dietary practices, poor sanitation and lack of quality food for the poorest 20% of families in this region meant there was no meaningful improvement in numbers of underweight children. In 1995 64% of the poorest children were underweight. In 2009 the figure was 60%2.
And in Western Asia where extreme poverty rates were initially low, rates have tripled from 2% to 6% of the population living on less than $1.25/day, according to the UN.
In 2010 the UNDP stated that “contributions to multilateral development institutions will need to increase rapidly over the next three years if developed counties are to meet their commitments… Even a sudden escalation of aid flows will not compensate for the failure to provide the continuous and predictable build-up in official development assistance that was implicit in their 2005 commitments”3.
And this has all been during a time of global economic growth. Now at a time of economic downturn, it is the worlds most vulnerable and poor that need to be reached. For this to happen, governments in developed countries must redouble their efforts to sustainable economic development.
According to a report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the MDGs after the economic crisis, 53 million more people will remain in extreme poverty by 2015 than would otherwise have done so4.
The UK’s stance
In July 2009 Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for International Development at the time, stated in the preface to the white paper Eliminating Poverty: Building Our Common Future that “Our response is not to turn away when things get tough – but instead to redouble our efforts to make a fair, safe and sustainable world for all people”.
The current Government has committed itself to ring-fencing international aid at 0.7% GDP by 2013 and earlier this year they pledged to “concentrate our efforts on supporting achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, creating wealth in poor countries, strengthening their governance and security and tackling climate change…. The UK Government is determined to help reduce the inequalities of opportunity…. We believe that promoting global prosperity is both a moral duty and in the UK’s national interest5.
We congratulate the UK Government on taking this stand and encourage it to withstand pressure to reverse this commitment. We urge them to redouble their efforts by also:
- funding grants to developing countries for sustainable development (or adaptation to climate change)
- ensuring all unpayable and unjust debt to poor countries is cancelled without the imposition of unjust terms
- using their influence to encourage other western governments to do the same
We believe these are the minimum requirements necessary if we are to stand any chance of meeting the 2015 MDG targets and achieving a more equitable world for all.