Financial crises, fuel hikes, climate change threats likely to affect Africa’s MDG achievement – Report

Africa’s aim of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 as set by the United Nations is likely to be affected, a new report by four international institutions says.

According to the report titled “Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” crises in food, fuel and financial crises as wells as threats from climate change and recent instability in North Africa are likely to affect Africa’s quest in achieving MDGs in spite of progress being made by various countries.

“In spite of this progress, recent food, fuel and financial crises, coupled with threats from climate change and the recent instability in North Africa are likely to affect the region’s MDG achievement, ” said the report released October 11, 2011 by the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Union (AU), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) .

With poverty reduction being number one on the MDG indicators, the report said the global financial crisis will have an impact on poverty reduction in Africa.

“In spite of the promising economic growth projection for the continent, the aftermath of the global financial crisis is likely to have a significant impact on progress toward MDG 1, both up to 2015 and beyond,” it said.

Before the crisis, the report says the region was projected to reach a poverty rate of 35.9% by 2015, but this has now been revised to 38 percent and the “implication is that an additional 20 million people will be left in poverty by 2015.”

However, if the low-growth scenario comes to pass, this number would more than double to 55 million over the same period.”

Indeed, revised estimates from the World Bank suggest that the crisis left an additional 50 million people in extreme poverty in 2009 and a further 14 million in 2010 and those hardest hit were principally living in Africa (excluding North Africa) and in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, it adds.

Although much of the rest of the world is largely on track to meet the target of halving its poverty rate, this presents a major challenge for Africa (excluding North Africa), the report noted.

However, the report cited Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty program (LEAP) as social protection instruments to accelerate progress towards the MDGs in Africa.

The report therefore urged African countries to enhance the strength and resilience of the poor through targeted social safeguards.

“We urge policy-makers to recalibrate their social protection programmes, so that they are perceived not as handouts but rather as measures to strengthen productive assets,” said the authors of the foreword to the report.

National schemes, such as pensions, safety nets and school feeding programmes, can impact positively on several MDGs by addressing the immediate needs of the most vulnerable, providing them with labour market skills and safeguards against relapses into poverty, it said.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and targets come from the Millennium Declaration, signed by 189 countries, including 147 heads of State and Government, in September 2000.

The eight MDGs are: Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education; Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women; Goal 4: Reduce child mortality; Goal 5: Improve maternal health; Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability; Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

By Ekow Quandzie

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