In the backdropof UN campaign for ending hunger, the MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (MDG) REPORT CARD: MEASURING PROGRESS ACROSS COUNTRIES commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UN Millennium Campaign is already out. Let us examine the shortfalls and potential pitfalls:

1. Poverty: In African countries, the proportion of the population living below $1.25 a day has increased in 21% countries (in 8 out of 38 countries). Nigeria’s poverty increased from 49% to 77% in the 18 years from 1990. In Latin America, results are more uneven: whopping 41% (7 countries out of 17) countries, including upper-middle-income countries such as Venezuela and low-middle-income countries such as Bolivia, have experienced an increased or unchanged rate of income poverty.

2. Healthcare: Under-five mortality increased in six Sub-Saharan African countries during the period under study, namely Central African Republic, Zambia, Chad, Cameroon, Congo and Kenya. Kenya regressed most strongly in absolute terms, with under-five mortality increasing from 97 to 121 per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2007. The number of adults living with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique increased from 10% to 12% in seven years. In the CIS, the number of adults living with HIV has increased in three out of four countries (Moldova, Russia and Ukraine). Only one country in Latin America (Honduras) has recorded a reduction in HIV/AIDS prevalence, whereas eight countries have suffered an increase in infection rates. In South-Eastern Asia, infections have increased in Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia and Viet Nam.

3. Hunger: In Democratic Republic of Congo, prevalence of hunger more than doubled between 1990 and 2004.

4. Primary education: Primary education in Congo fallen from 87% in 1991 to 59% in 2007.

5. Partnership: A close look at ‘The Millennium Development Goals Report 2010’ also stressed upon the MDG framework for accountability derived from the Declaration that has generated an unprecedented level of commitment and partnership in building decent, healthier lives for billions of people and in creating an environment that contributes to peace and security. However, the economic slowdown has put pressure on government budgets in the developed countries. Although the majority of the initial commitments are still in force, some of the big donors have reduced or postponed the pledges they made for 2010. The shortfall in aid affects Africa in particular. At the 2005 Gleneagles Summit, G-8 members projected that their commitments, combined with those of other donors, would double ODA to Africa by 2010. Preliminary data for 2009 show that bilateral ODA to Africa as a whole rose by 3 per cent in real terms. For sub-Saharan Africa, bilateral aid increased by 5.1 per cent in real terms over 2008. It is estimated that Africa will receive only about $11 billion out of the $25 billion increase envisaged at Gleneagles, due mainly to the underperformance of some European donors who earmark large shares of their aid to Africa. Aid remains well below the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for most donors. In 2009, the only countries to reach or exceed the target were Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

6. Good Governance: Another important issue that I have raised time and again in different forum including ID4D is proper governance; it is the key to achieve the goals of MDGs regionally and ultimately globally. Many of the African problems may be ascribed to poor governance. Transparency, opening of trade and proper synergy of different governmental schemes is also essential which again can only stems from good governance.

MDGs framework for accountability derived from the declaration that has generated an unprecedented level of global commitment. All the eight goals are, in fact, interrelated. Each one has some precursor for achieving other and together has tremendous potential for fueling growth. MDGs arguably have given us one last chance to make this world beautiful. Let’s harness it to the fullest.

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