Millennium Development Goals And Challenges
Millennium development goals refer to the goals that were set by members of the United Nations. These nations set eight goals that are aimed to be achieved by the year 2015 and they include reduction of child mortality rates, poverty eradication, and commitment to fight disease epidemics like AIDS among others.
The main objective of the Millennium development goals is to spur economic growth and improve the living standards of people in poor countries. Poverty eradication is one of the main challenges that many of developing nations face and if they are to succeed then they have to be helped with financial assistance by donors such as the International Monetary fund, World Bank, the European Union (EU) and other willing donors.
It is the wish of all member states of the United States to see living standards of citizens in poor nations improve but perhaps this will remains nothing more than a dream because of the many challenges they face such as bad governance, government’s lack of commitment to achieve these goals and conflict and violence that face these nations thereby inhibiting millennium development goals to become a reality.
This is research paper will basically focus on millennium development goals, challenges that slow the progress of achieving these goals and what needs to be done to make these goals a reality. Millennium development goals (MDGs) were an agreement that was reached in 2000 by both developing and developed nations that they would commit themselves to make the world a better and safer place to live in (United Nation, 2008).
It is the dream of the United Nations that by the year 2015 most of the millennium goals will have been achieved. Many nations could be said to be on the right track towards achieving these goals but there are others which are far away from achieving these goals and especially those in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Not all nations in this region that are affected by this problem as there are some countries that have made have made significant moves towards the achievement of these goals.
These are countries such as Malawi in its fight against child mortality rate and Ghana in alleviating hunger. Also notable development has been made in the Latin American nations where women have been empowered in many sectors and particularly in politics, business and education. These Latin American nations have also been able to offer universal education. Though they have achieved a lot in other fields, checking the spread of diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS remains a big challenge to them.
The only region that could be said to have greatly achieved in terms if millennium development goals is the East Asian region where mental health has significantly been improved and child mortality been greatly reduced. According to the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, poverty eradication is one of the key challenges that most developing nations face and if this challenge is to be overcome, war against it must be waged from all fronts because poverty seems to affect all aspects of society.
In fact, poverty has been likened to a dragon with many tentacles whereby in order to defeat it all tentacles must be cut. Poverty has been singled out as the main cause of almost all social evils such as disease scourges like AIDS, high crime level, child mortality and malnutrition. According to Ban Ki-Moon, different organizations and institutions must come together and work towards the achievement of this end.
Governments of the affected nations must fully commit themselves in this war and involve even private sectors and other civil society organizations if the set millennium development goals are to be attained (United Development Programs). Different nations come together so that they can help one another to uplift the living standards and complement each other in areas that affect them. Millennium development goals have targets that are supposed to have been achieved by 2015 and one of these goals is poverty eradication in poor third world countries.
It is the wish of the United Nations to see all member states achieve these goals but unfortunately, the poor nations cannot achieve this without financial assistance from developed nations and other willing donors such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund however, the provision of these funds are dependent on other things like ability of the government to demonstrate commitment in poverty eradication, existence of healthy cooperation between third world nations and the developed nations and the general ability of the well up nations to provide these funds (International Monetary Fund).
Apart from the above mentioned challenges there are others such as poor starting conditions, poor governance and weak institutions, conflicts and instability and environmental degradation. In most developing nations, there are poor starting conditions that do not favor the achievement of millennium development goals. The problem is that there is a very big economic disparity between the rich and poor nations and thus they have to look upon the developed nations for financial assistance.
It is estimated that most of sub-Saharan countries have poverty level of over thirty percent while most countries in Central and East Europe have about two and below percent in their poverty level. Third world countries which are generally poor have so many problems that they do not even know where to start from for example; people have no access to clean water, no access to health facilities, education and other facilities, In general the infrastructures in those countries are in a very bad shape that every sector needs to be attended to.
It is also in those areas where hunger and malnutrition cases which cost many lives are reported (Wagstaff and Claeson, 2004). Another thing that is one of the major stumbling blocks from MDGs is that many developing nations are frequently faced with conflicts and instability. There is no way a country can be faced by these problems and the government manages to keenly focus on its developmental goals. Violence leave financial institutions devastated and that is also what happens to the physical environment which is a requisite for any stable development.
Some nations that have that have somehow remained behind is due to conflicts and violence and most of them are particularly from Africa like Sierra Leone, 2008 post election violence in Kenya and power struggles in Congo (Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone, 2005). Environmental degradation is another contributory factor that slows the achievement of millennium goals. Increase in industrial production and other economic activities such as mining, fishing, logging and oil extraction degrades environment in a big way.
Human beings need clean water, air, sanitary conditions and healthy and safe environment if they are to survive and progress but most of these conditions are not available in many developing nations something that has greatly impeded on development and possibility if millennium goals achievement. A report that was done recently on the relationship between environment and MDGs shows, “Balancing nature and development so that social welfare does not decline over time is at the core of environmental sustainability” (Munoz, 2008:3)
According to Julian Schweitzer, a senior World Bank official, ten thousands deaths could occur due to the current global economic crisis if developed nations will not work together with poor nations to defend their poverty eradication programs (Mundell). This statement was made in response to the foreseen impacts of the economic downturns of the developed nations in terms of their waning commitment to finance poverty eradication programs.
Though lack of commitment to finance these projects is another challenge that these countries face and is partly caused by the current global financial crisis, it is also due to the lack of commitment on the governments of the developing nations to manage funds. Constant embezzlement of Millennium Development Goals’ fund is killing the will of the developed nations and other willing donors in financing this program and thus the 2015’s millennium development goals might never be achieved and will remain nothing more than a dream (United Development Programs).
According to Riddell (123), corruption is one of the major stumbling blocks that many third world nations face and it impedes on the achievement of Millennium Development Goals such as eradicating poverty from the society, providing education for all, fighting diseases and provision of better health services. Lack of willingness and commitment on the governments of these nations to fight corruption is what has exacerbated the problem.
These governments should awake to the fact that corruption undermines the implementation of governance reforms that are aimed at achievement of millennium development goals. No organization or donor would be willing to part with even a single cent to fund poor nations in their poverty eradication programs if the governments of these nations are not committed to spend this money wisely and to the proposed programs.
This fund would rather be spent to finance other projects in nations that are committed towards the achievement of this end than see it land on the hands of few greedy individuals because this is what happens in most developing nations. Developed nations have not yet given up the will to support the poor nations in achieving their MDGs for there are millions of people who are wallowing in poverty in third world nations and have nothing to eat or where to sleep and unless some intervention measures are taken by donors and other willing developed nations to support these people, many lives will be lost.
But though this is the case, providing these governments with poverty eradication fund for them to achieve their objectives cannot be justified if this money will land in the hands of a few individuals and not reach the targeted persons (Cheru, and Bradford 136). Lack of good governance and institution in place is also another challenge that poor countries face. A good government is that form of government that is able to mobilize its population and encourage it to work together towards attainment of certain achievable set goals but this is only possible where the voices of the majority are heard or in short where democracy prevails.
There are many cases of corruption over MDGs’ poverty eradication fund that has bedeviled many countries and a classic example of them is Kenya where in 2008 a Non Governmental Organization dedicated to fight AIDS scourge together with the Ministry of Public Health and Medical Services were unable to account approximately 166 US million dollars that they had received from the Global Fund. The truth is that the amount that Kenyan government received from Global Fund was thirty percent of the total amount that this organization spent globally on similar projects.
A similar case also happened in Nigeria in 2009 and it only came to be known when a non governmental organization dubbed as Children Rights Network blew a whistle over the disappearance of two billion US dollars that were meant to finance the HIV/AIDS program and called for investigations to be done. Other corruption cases of fund misappropriation has also been reported in countries such as Uganda, Zimbabwe and in Ghana where money that was meant for uplifting the living standards of common people ended up in the hands of a few individuals whose aim was to satisfy their egos (Economic Commission for Africa, 2005).
There is nothing that can justify why corrupt nations should be provided with funds and yet the common citizen who is the main target is languishing in abject poverty. “When corruption is under control, government can target tax revenues to basic services such as roads, water, hospitals, and schools. These, in turn, are essential for a healthy, educated population and a stronger economy” (Munoz, 2008:3) Any government that has been involved in any corrupt dealings on poverty eradication funds should not be entrusted with this fund anymore as giving such assistance is like promoting corruption and their corrupt regimes (Marsh, 2003).
It is said that these governments would learn a lesson from their mistakes if the funds are cut and are left on their own to finance their projects. This would make sure that in future they will use those funds responsibly and for the right project. If millennium development goals are to be achieved by 2015, then development funds should provided and restricted only to the nations that have convincingly demonstrated strong pro-poor commitment.
Where countries have shown undying commitment to the achievement of these goals like in the case of Tanzania, donors such as European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund and World Bank relieve them of their huge debts which are known to be the major hindrance to the achievement of MDGs (Brownlie and Bojang. 2008:37). In short, millennium goals were well intentioned and that was why countries across the globe were more than willing to help the affected partners to uplift their living standards and spur economic and social development.
Developing nations also committed themselves to achieve these goals and that was where developed nations came in to finance them so that millennium development goals would become a reality but despite this, achievement of these goals still remains a big challenge. There are many challenges apart from lack of money to finance projects that hinder their progress. These are things like poor governance, lack of commitment to on the government to make this a reality, poor starting conditions, environmental factors among other.
There are governments that have been implicated in fund misuse and this kills the will of the donors to continue giving fund. Instead of these nations being provided with funds, only nations that show strong commitment to proper utilization of these funds should be financed. Works Cited: Brownlie A and Bojang, A. 2008. Aid and Development. Evans Brothers. Cheru, F and Bradford, C. 2005. The millennium development goals: Raising the
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