NPC starts reviewing progress of MDGs

KATHMANDU: The National Planning Commission (NPC), the apex body that frames the country’s development plans and policies, has started reviewing progress made by the country in meeting the highly-ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“A team under Jagadish Chandra Pokharel (former NPC vice chairman) has been formed to examine Nepal’s achievements,” NPC Member Govind Nepal told The Himalayan Times.

The team has been given a deadline of mid-November to submit a report. “NPC will then review it before making it public in the third week of January,” Nepal said.

The review is being conducted as MDGs, a global development agenda introduced by the United Nations in September 2000, are expiring at the end of 2015. They will be replaced by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — a follow-up on MDGs comprising 17 goals and 169 targets — from January 1, 2016.

The MDGs contained eight indicators: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

Each of these goals contained specific targets, which were set as quantitative benchmark for attaining MDGs.

“Nepal has been able to make significant progress in attaining most of the targets, despite being engulfed in a decade-long armed conflict during the initial years of MDGs implementation,” says a latest NPC report, which was prepared on the basis of achievements made by the country till 2013. “As such, some of the targets have been met in advance and others are being met within the 2015 deadline.”

For instance, Nepal has already met the fourth MDG on reducing child mortality. The infant mortality rate and under-five mortality rate declined to 33 per 1,000 live births and 38 per 1,000 live births, respectively, in 2014, from 108 and 162 in 1990. Also, the proportion of one-year-old children immunised against measles through routine immunisation has more than doubled to 92.6 per cent from 42 per cent in 1990.

Nepal has also made significant progress in reducing extreme poverty and hunger. As of 2014, 23.8 per cent of the population was lying below the national poverty line, as against the 2015 per cent of 21 per cent.So, Nepal is on track to meeting this goal.

The country is also on track to meet goals on achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, and improving maternal health. However, Nepal is unlikely to achieve one of the targets under the goal related to combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

The target calls for extension of anti-retroviral combination therapy to 80 per cent of the population with advanced HIV infection. But as of 2014, only 38.8 per cent of the population with advanced HIV infection had received that therapy.

Despite this hiccup, ‘overall progress made in attainment of MDGs is impressive’, says the NPC report.

Yet, the pitfall is that ‘MDGs and their targets are aggregative in nature’. “So, they run the risk of masking disparities in the development outcomes by gender, social group or geographic location,” says the NPC report.

“Also, MDGs focused on key quantitative indicators to be achieved in areas, such as education or health, but failed to take quality aspect into account. Hence, SDGs have to consider quality of basic social services delivered to the population as well.”