EDITORIAL: Some satisfaction

Nepal has done reasonably well in meeting the MDGs on many targets and if things turn out well it would be doing even better with the SDGs

The progress made by Nepal in meeting the highly-ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) should be considered satisfactory, considering that the goals and the specific targets within them were set when Nepal was facing a decade-long armed conflict. But this is nothing to gloat about considering the fact that Nepal still leaves a lot to be desired in achieving the goals and targets fully or almost fully. Still many of the Nepalis are living in deprivation in the areas set as MDGS, a global agenda brought by the United Nations in September 2000. The deadline for the attainment of the goals for measuring purposes will be expiring at the end of this year. Eight indicators are present in the MDGs. Some of them have already been achieved by this country, including the infant mortality rate and substantial progress has been achieved in reducing extreme poverty and hunger. The country is performing well in several other fronts as well such as it is on the way to providing universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women and enhancing the overall maternal health situation. The MDGs indicators include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, attaining universal primary education, promoting gender equality, empowering the women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, confronting diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria.

The National Planning Commission (NPC) is assessing and reviewing the progress made so far in meeting the MDGs. The NPC brings out the country’s development plans and policies. It will be submitting its findings in a report by mid-November. It will then study it and make it public in the third week of January. The achievements made by Nepal till 2013 is the basis of the latest report of the NPC. On analyzing this report it is likely that Nepal will meet the target set within the stipulated deadline in several fronts. However, it is unlikely that the country will be able to effectively combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and several other diseases. At one time malaria was believed to have been eradicated in the country, but now it is posing as a major health problem. It has been unable to provide anti-retroviral combination therapy to about 80 per cent of the population with HIV/AIDS. A success story is that Nepal has immunized against measles as many as 92.6 per cent of children less than one year old compared to only 42.7 per cent in 1990. This was possible due to the mobilization of the women health volunteers throughout the country.

However, NPC cautions that there is a risk of hiding disparities in the development by gender, social group or geographic location. A serious shortcoming of the MDGs is that they have failed to take the quality aspect into consideration. The MDGs are to be replaced after their deadline is reached by another ambitious project the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These will consist of 17 goals that have been identified  and 169 targets which will come into force from January 1, 2016. Thus, quality should be adequately stressed in the basic social services that is being dispensed to the population. Given its severe constraints, Nepal has done reasonably well in meeting the MDGs on many targets and if things turn out well it would be doing even better with the SDGs.

Kodari reopening  

The government has pressed heavy machinery into service to open the Kodari Highway blocked for the last five months due to the dry landslides on the road caused by the April 25 earthquake. Chief District Officer of Sindhuplachowk Balbhadra Giri said the blocked highway would come into operation within a week. Movements of people and goods had come to a grinding halt after the fallen debris blocked the road linking the Tibet Autonomous Region of China at several places.

After the debris is cleared from the road customs and immigration offices will resume their businesses and the stranded cargo trucks laden with Chinese goods will start entering Nepal well before Dashain festival. Hundreds of cargo trucks have been stranded at the Tibetan side as a result of road block on the Nepal side. The businessmen and locals had asked the government to reopen the 114 km highway at the earliest. Once the road is opened the Chinese goods coming to Nepal will give much relief to the Nepali people facing shortage of essential goods due to the undeclared blockade imposed by India.