THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS GIVE POOR PEOPLE FALSE HOPE. In September 2000 at the UN Summit, heads of Governments from 189 countries across the globe signed the millennium declaration. This millennium declaration was “built on pledges made in the series of important UN conferences of the 1990s”(Global Future 1 st quarter 2004). From this declaration on human rights, gender equity, environment, peace, and the priorities of the least developed countries and Africa, the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set. Defined as time-bound and measurable goals and targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women, many were those who believed that the MDGs would he the best source of hope for poor people in the world. But I speak for the motion that the MDGs give poor people false hope. In summary, the MDGs seek to Eradicate extreme poverty Achieve Universal primary education Empower women and promote equality between women and men Reduce child mortality Improve maternal health Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases Ensure environmental sustainability Develop a global partnership for development. To begin with a critical look at the details of the MDGs shows that the time period set for majority of the MDGs is from 1990 to 2015 that is, twenty five years (25). The declaration itself was made in 2000 September at the millennium summit. This means that the leaders of the world in setting the goals for themselves did so ten years into their own schedule, perhaps to cut down on the population of the world which obviously was lower in 1990. The world leaders also showed a lack of urgency in the execution of the MDGs because they waited till the International Conference on Financing for Development early in 2002 at Monterrey Mexico, before money and other resources were committed to the programme (Implementing the Millennium Declaration UN fact sheet 2002). Two more precious years were further lost in waiting. And then in 2003 the USA-led war on Iraq shifted debate from “How the international system can reduce poverty to whether there was an international system at all” Accordingly, rich nations failed to deliver on their commitments on the Monterrey Commitment (McArthur J. et al Global future 1st quarter 2004). This shows that whereas the world was in a race against time to fulfil the MDGs the there was somewhat a lack of full commitment by the world leaders to pressing issues. Added to this the UN publication (Implementing the Millennium Declarations October 2002) stated the MDGs are measurable, that 11 million young people die every year and 1 in 48 mothers risk dying in child birth. That 1.2 billion people live on less than 1 dollar a day. The question that arises is how these statistics were reached. Taking Ghana for instance, the last time a population census was conducted was in 2000 that is eight years ago simply because it is very expensive to do so and the case might not be any different in other developing countries. This raises obvious doubts about the accuracy of the figures being quoted by the UN. What about the children and the poor and rural settings who have no access to hospitals, schools and other amenities where data is collected? This group of people form the vast majority in developing countries. There is also the issue of different UN bodies running multiple programmes, which seek to address the same problems. In 1998 for example, the UN body WHO launched the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) programme, which seeks to halve malaria associated mortality by 2010. With no report released by the RBM programme the UN still allows it to run alongside the MDG 6. The same applies to the tuberculosis (Direct Observation and Therapy System) programme of 1991 run by the WHO which coexist with the MDG 6 which also covers tuberculosis. Would the UN and WHO not be more efficient if they concentrated all the funds on one programme and run it other than in the two, which seek to address the same problems? The end result is waste and inefficiency In conclusion, my opinion is that the MDGs ought to be met but considering the stillbirth of the whole programme, the short time frame, the unnecessary competition among the UN bodies on the same issues and the enormous work that is to be done it will be suicidal for poor people to put their hope in it. Cephas Joshua Beujung Samwini Second Year Agriculture Student of Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science and Technology. Kumasi, Ghana.
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