MDGs remain distant for most of Africa
A new World Bank and International Monetary Fund report warns that most countries in Africa will not meet most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) due by 2015.
While there has been strong growth in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa—and there could yet be significant progress in poverty reduction in the next decade—the region is still likely to fall short of the first goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.
The Global Monitoring Report: MDGs and the Environment-Agenda for Inclusive and Sustainable Development, released on Tuesday, emphasises that factors such as high commodity prices could further complicate prospects in the region.
Rising food and fuel prices lower the income of households that do not produce these products, causing poor people to eat less food, or cheaper, less nutritious food.
This is a significant risk in poor countries such as Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Zambia, which already have high under-five malnutrition and mortality rates.
The report says progress is noted in several areas—for example, a recent levelling or reduction in the national HIV prevalence rates in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a steady increase in primary school enrolment since 1990, and a sharp increase in measles vaccination from 50% in 1992 to 71% in 2006—and calls for redoubling current efforts in these and other areas of development to multiply successes in the region.
It further calls for urgent action on climate change, which may worsen food insecurity in Africa.
Diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea are also linked to environmental factors and climate change.
African countries will need support to address the links between growth, development and environmental sustainability.
A key concern is the ability of countries like Sierra Leone to meet targets for managing natural resources and controlling pollution. If a nation cannot provide clean drinking water and adequate sanitation for the majority of its citizens, it will fail to meet most of the MDGs, the report says.
To achieve the goals, the authors lay out a six-point agenda prioritising strong, inclusive growth; more effective aid; a successful outcome to the Doha round of trade talks; more emphasis on strengthening programs in health, education and nutrition; and support for climate-change mitigation and adaptation.
The report says that while most countries in sub-Saharan Africa are off track to halve poverty and hunger by 2015, countries such as Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda are making solid progress toward achieving the MDGs.
Africa’s economic growth has risen from 2,1% in the 1990s to an average 5,6% in 2003-2007.
Some countries have made strong progress in strengthening development strategies and institutional frameworks for implementation. Good candidates for scaled-up aid include Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania, while Mali could use a moderate increase.
Ten of the 11 countries worldwide with under-five mortality rates over 200 per 1 000 are in sub-Saharan Africa, including Angola and Sierra Leone. Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest maternal mortality rate among all developing regions.
However, the region’s proportion of population living with HIV has declined by a full percentage point since 2000.—Sapa