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MDGs: Commitment Plus Funding Equal Success

  • Joe DeCapua

U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon has announced a new $40 billion plan to help save the lives of and children over the next five years.

A U.N. statement saying the money’s been pledged by governments, business, foundations and NGOs was released Wednesday at the New York summit on the Millennium Development Goals. The target date for the goals is 2015, but progress on achieving them varies.

Follow the money

Henry Malumo, ActionAid’s Africa hunger-free advocacy coordinator, says of the summit, “In terms of the positive, it’s basically a reaffirmation that a lot still needs to be done to get to 2015 – clearly both from the rich countries and the developing countries.”

However, he adds, “There’s…what I might define as not an inspiring level of commitment, especially from the rich countries, in terms of doing their bit to help poor countries reach the 2015 target. There’s still a lack of clarity in terms of the financing. Yes, they’ve renewed their commitment…but there isn’t any clear time frame.”

ActionAid believes “any delay” in funding will mean many poor countries will not be able to meet the MDGs by 2015.

Donor concerns

Malumo says donors want to make sure their money is well spent and going to intended projects and programs. He says they’re especially concerned about corruption.

“They’re not actually seeing the change or the transformation, especially in Africa. So, they’re raising the question of accountability…by a number of African governments,” he says.

African heads of state at the summit have their own concerns about funding delays. Malumo says they’ve told him and others, “We need these resources to be able to put in place mechanisms and instruments that will make us hold ourselves accountable. At the end of it, it seems to be this kind of back and forth debate…kind of a blame game that is emerging… which isn’t helping the poor people.”

Call for leadership

To end the “blame game,” the ActionAid official says grassroots leadership is needed to help achieve the MDGs.

“Poor countries must fully commit to ensuring that the resources that are given and delivered are used for the intended purpose. But it’s up to citizens in these countries to hold their leaders accountable. Secondly, we would also want to see citizens…of rich nations putting pressure on their governments to give no excuse in delivering this aid,” he says.

More of the same?

The U.N. Secretary General’s announcement of a $40 billion dollar plan for maternal and child health aims not only to save lives, but prevent over 30 million unwanted pregnancies by 2015.

“We do welcome the announcement,” says Malumo, “except we kind of cautiously take it because…this is not new in itself.”

He says major announcements have been made before, such as at G8 summits.

“It’s the delivery side of it. It’s a clear time frame that we are demanding,” he says, “a clear road map that will state and articulate. It does not help Africa meet the MDGs if the promises are made today and delivered in 2015.”