TOPICS : Stakeholders should show sincerity

Surendra R Devkota:

Armed with eight goals, 18 targets, and 10 recommendations, the plan for Millennium Development Goal (MDG) is expected to bring a new wave around the globe. Although these goals, targets, and recommendations may seem simple and complex as well as ambitious in few cases, it addresses the fact of life in poor countries. For instance, on January 18 in the Washington post, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a leading author of the MDG, mentioned that a mosquito net could save thousands of people. That was further carried by the New York Times in its editorial on January 22, and even cited by the participants in the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

MDG is not an exercise of invention or reinvention of the global issues. It is a noble plan to address the human induced problems by appealing to the humanity. MDG tries to streamline the global efforts in a comprehensive way. It seeks to channel the resources for effective implementation, which is the crux of the problem in eradicating poverty vis-à-vis achieving sustained economic development. But we need to remember that in the 70s there was a similar pro-poor strategy like basic needs to all by 2000. It came to nothing after a few years of much fanfare and political rhetoric. Nobody bothered to reckon the demise of basic needs for the poor in 2000.

In order to save the MDG from being another dead slogan after a few years, precautions need to be taken. Increasing the foreign aid contribution is equally important to proper utilisation of the resources. Hence, the role of the government is crucial to execute the MDG. But many governments in poor countries are not responsible and accountable to the people. That is why corruption is deeply rooted in their system. Governments in poor countries need to be encouraged to incorporate MDG as a complementary planning measure rather than a separate entity. The UN and other multilateral agencies could facilitate not only developing but also implementing MDG incorporated plans and programmes. Responsibility and accountability need to be tied to monitoring the progress of MDG. A transparent implementation mechanism is mandatory.

Only holding seminars won’t make a positive impression on the people in the poor countries. After the government endorses it, paper-loving bureaucrats would prefer to organise countless seminars at many levels in the name of awareness or popularisation of the MDG. In many developing countries, the people are fed up with such seminars because it is nothing more than a platform to please one another and bargain for more, as well as a waste of resources. In poor countries, officials and donors love to organise awareness campaigns for family planning at local level. If any of the organisers could try to find a health post or any retail shop of family planning tools within a radius of five miles of the seminar hotel it would be in vain.

The cost of such seminars could deliver contraceptives to local people at a very low price. So, it is imperative to keep in mind that the money to be spent on MDG seminars could achieve at least one target for one community. The world would be a wonderful place to live if only all the stakeholders performed their role with sincerity. It should be ensured that MDG won’t be transformed into another slogan after 10 years.