Nepal to meet MDG targets

Kathmandu, September 5:

Probing the country’s development performance, Nepal Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Progress Report 2005 has underscored the need to improve efficiency and coordination of aid, ensuring more equitable distribution.

The second progress report released today, 10 days ahead of the millennium plus five UN Summit, has assessed that three major goals — halving extreme poverty, reducing under-five mortality rate by two-thirds and increasing access to safe drinking water, are likely to be met by 2015. Of the total eight goals, hunger, gender equality and empowerment, maternal mortality, malaria and environmental resources could potentially be met by 2015 with a right mix of policy and institutions and adequate resources. Despite fairly moderate progress in these goals, it warns that the trend could easily decelerate if the conflict continues.

The report, however, strongly states the goal of achieving universal primary education and halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS are unlikely to be met within the given timeframe. Releasing the report, vice-chairman of the council of the ministers, Kirtinidhi Bista urged for support from development partners, civil society and private sector in realising the MDG targets. “The government is set to internalise the vision of MDGs in national planning and budgetary process, focusing on inclusive development, promoting service delivery through governance reform measures,” he said.

Stating that Nepal’s efforts alone are not sufficient, Bista asked development partners to assist in realising the MDGs, for which Nepal will require $7.6 billion over a period of 10 years from 2005 to 2015. The report asserts that Nepal has made a remarkable progress considering the difficult situation in the country in recent years. However, the prolonged conflict still remains a major problem alon-gwith glaring issues of exclusion and discrimination. It also underscores a strong need to improve the efficiency and coordination of aid to ensure that it reaches the poorest regions and most vulnerable groups.

“The report is also a call to everyone to join hands with the common objective of promoting the well-being of Nepali people by creating a level playing field for all citizens to participate fully in the development process,” said Dr Shankar Sharma, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission.

In spite of an impressive decline in poverty from 42 per cent to 31 per cent over the last eight years, an immense increase in inequality indicated that development outcomes are not reaching those who need it the most, the ultra poor and the disadvantaged. This situation strongly underlines the fact that these groups have to be targeted while Nepal gears up to meet the MDGs in the next 10 years, observes the report.

Speaking on the occasion, Ghulam Isaczai, UNDP deputy resident representative, said that Nepal needs to strengthen its political institutions. A vibrant and functional democracy and resolution of the ongoing conflict are prerequisites for sustainable development. The government strategies and plans need to provide a framework for strengthening governance, promoting human rig-hts, engaging civil society and strengthening the private sector. “Otherwise advancement will be slowed down,” he said.

The report also observed an increased feminisation of poverty. The report suggests efforts focusing on the empowerment of women. It states that girls must be geared up by investment in the provision of education and skills training opportunities. Special initiatives are to be taken to ensure the reach of children from disadvantaged families with strong monitoring mechanisms in order to meet a target of 100 per cent boys and girls achieving primary schooling.