Less than a thousand days to respect the promises of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, by Chofor Che, 12 April 2013

Eight objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were defined in 2000 when a number of United Nations (UN) organisations came together at the UN Head Quarters in New York. These UN organisations vowed that by 2015, they would have reduced poverty and hunger in the world by half, fought against climatic change and illnesses, resolved the problem of lack of consumable water, and increased possibilities for the education of women and girls. This was not the first time that world leaders had made such lofty promises.

Many critics especially in Africa have been cynical that such promises were very ambitious and were going to be abandoned. All the same though a lot still has to be done, some optimists argue that these objectives have assisted in fine tuning policy objectives of states especially in the developing world. According to Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, 600 million people have been taken out of poverty. Girls and women around the world have benefited from primary education. There has been a drop in infant mortality and juvenile delinquency. Investments injected in the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV AIDS have helped to save lives.

Despite views propounded by UN Secretary General, it is clear that the MDGs were very ambitious. Such is the case especially in Cameroon where the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has already started partnering with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for a post-MDG agenda.

Many reasons account for the slow realisation of the MDGs. A major reason why these goals may not be realised in record time is because of uncoordinated financial aid especially to governments in Africa. A lot of financial aid, pumped into central governments via UN agencies, has been siphoned by corrupt officials. Some of this money has been starched in bank accounts especially in Switzerland. The UN is well aware of such malicious operations, but very little has been done to ensure that financial assistance destined for the world’s poor and destitute, are rightly utilised.

Another major reason why the MDGs may not be realised in record time is because most UN agencies prefer to operate with central governments rather than also bringing on board development partners like civil society groups and NGOs. It is true that civil society and NGOs are not so organised. Despite this fact, most of these civil society groups and NGOs are able to channel funds judiciously to affected communities. The UNDP in Cameroon seems to have realised that working solely with governments may not solve the MDG gig puzzle, reason why there is now a great involvement of civil society groups and NGOs all over the national territory.

In as much as concerns plague the development community about the attainment of the MDGs by 2015, it is vital for certain wrongs committed in the past by the UN system to be put right. If job creation and true privatisation without government coercion, rather than financial aid, is given priority by the UN system, then it may be possible to attain the MDGs in record time. Additionally, if civil society groups and NGOs especially in Africa are well structured and organised, then they could easily assist the UN system in the attainment of the MDGs by 2015. Financial aid alone cannot solve the trick, a holistic approach is very important for the attainment of the MDGs in record time.

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