International non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the country have pledged firm commitment to partner with the government in order to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently launched by world leaders in New York.
The Network for International Non-Governmental Organisations (NINGO), with more than 60 members, is composed of NGOs engaged in various social and economic activities.
NINGO is currently chaired by Frederic Auger, the country director of America Refugee Committee Rwanda (ARC).
Rwandan leaders led by President Paul Kagame were in New York two weeks ago where they joined their counterparts from across the world to put in motion the wheels of the next phase of the global development agenda that will run between 2015 and 2030.
The SDGs come after the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) whose pursuit started in 2000 and closed this year with Rwanda emerging as one of the few countries in Africa to have attained most of the targets.
As the country enters the SDG era, observers say, there’s a reputation and record to defend and getting started early, with the right strategy and partners, will decide how much will have been achieved by the deadline year 2030.
“Rwanda demonstrated that achieving the MDG goals was possible even for a country with limited resources; but the partnership approach between government and civil society played a major role in attaining success,” Auger said.
‘Complex and ambitious’
Unlike the MDGs that were only eight, there is consensus that the new SDGs are more complex and ambitious and will require huge amounts of resources to implement and NGOs can play a major role in raising the resources.
Yesterday’s meeting in Kigali was aimed at not only defining the role of non-state actors in delivering the SDGs, but also brainstorm on the biggest elephant in the room: how to raise the resources needed to fund sustainable development in the next 15 years.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Lamin Manneh, said a robust multi-stakeholder approach backed with a strong resource envelope will be needed if countries are going to attain the ambitious goals.
“Our times demand a new definition of leadership – global leadership. They demand a new constellation of international cooperation – governments, civil society and the private sector, working together for a collective global wellbeing,” he said.
It’s that new definition of leadership that explains how Rwanda might have managed to succeed in MDGs where most of its peers in the region failed.
Manneh said as the world ushered in the MDGs in 2000, Rwandan leaders were still cleaning up the debris of war and effects of the Genocide against the Tutsi, just six years back, then.
Poverty was sky-high and education enrolment was at the bottom, hunger, infant mortality rates and malaria deaths were among the key challenges facing the leadership at the time. It could be said that the MDGs offered a summary of Rwanda’s problems as a country at the time.
However, the leadership swung into action and incorporated the MDGs targets into the country’s development agenda to progressively give birth to Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), currently in its second phase.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Amb. Claver Gatete, recently told The New Times that government intends to use the same winning approach to deliver the SDGs – progressively incorporate all the targets into the national development agenda and then pursue them.
Sense of ownership
Explaining why many African countries failed to score the MDG goals, some development experts have argued that there was a weak sense of ownership among the countries as they were not sufficiently involved in their crafting and drafting.
The team behind drafting of SDGs reportedly took lessons from the MDG experience and experts note that the 17 goals forming the new global development agenda are more inclusive and Africa has a stronger sense of ownership because countries were involved in every process.
Ayodele Odusola, PhD, the chief of strategy and analysis at UN Development Programme’s regional bureau for Africa, said with SDGs, Africa did the right thing.
Odusola, who coordinated the post-2015 development agenda in partnership with the African Union, the Economic Commission of Africa and the African Development Bank, said Africa’s generally poor delivery of the MDG goals stemmed from its limited involvement in their crafting.
According to Odusola, Africa had a common position on the SDGs and that at least 85 per cent of the priorities listed by African delegates as core development priorities, were adopted in the final SDG document endorsed by world leaders, a fortnight ago.
“Between 2000 and 2015, Africa has made plenty of progress but a lot of challenges remain,” Odusola said, calling for innovative and participatory approach to conquer the challenges