The report on MDG’s for Sub-Saharan Africa was a mixed review on the achievements and challenges still facing most of Africa. In terms of education there was a major uptake in primary school enrolment.
There was also a reduction in those living on about $1.25 a day from 57% to 51%, but the global economic slowdown reduced the output per worker significantly caused by a dip in commodity prices. There was also an increase in mobile phone subscribers albeit from a low starting point.
Sub-Saharan Africa had steady growth that was higher than that of some developed countries, but this growth failed to translate into poverty reduction in real terms partly due to social inequalities and population increases.
Externally, most of the money pledged by Western nations at the Gleneagles Summit in 2005 will most likely not be realised, only $11 billion out of the $25 billion is likely to be paid. So only 44% of funds pledged are likely to be paid and this represents a major hurdle in achieving the goals. There has also been little change in policy regarding restrictive trade barriers.
The partnership for development between developing and developed countries saw some positive developments in the reduction of the overall debt burden. However, the global slowdown affected the overall proportion of aid allocated to Africa.
This is because Western nations devote a percentage of their budget to development, normally around 0.6% of GDP, although few donors have managed to achieve this. The aid that was given has been reduced due to overall national GDP’s having been reduced. Development aid has increased to around $120 billion, with increased aid from China making up for the shortfall.
In health, there still remain formidable challenges. Sub-Saharan Africa still has 72% of all cases of HIV infections, the availability of condoms is not yet at the levels required to arrest the growth in overall infections. Anti-retrovirals still need to be made more available, sadly in some areas where ARV’s are made available there is an adverse effect of increased infections as complacency reduces awareness.
Malaria is still a main issue with 89% of global cases reported to be in Africa; the provision of nets can reduce infection and reduce child mortality significantly.
Water and sanitation are also major objectives to be focused on, only 47% of rural people have access to clean drinking water, compared to 87% of the urban population.
In sanitation there has been little progress with only a 3% increase in the use of pit latrines. Energy deficits are still an issue; this often results in environmental damage as firewood becomes the main source of energy for cooking. Reforestation is still a priority; deforestation was reduced from 16 million hectares to 13 million hectares globally, which represents an 18.7% reduction. More has to be done to replant forests, in order to replace the lost forest and absorb increased pollution.
It now requires a concerted effort if the targets are going to be achieved. it is important that Africans represent a united front at the upcoming MDG’s summit to secure the funding and policy changes required to facilitate progress.
There is also a need to have peer-review mechanisms and consultations to share lessons and techniques that can make the targets reachable. Rwanda is one of the few countries on target to achieve most of the goals.