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Embarking Blog

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2009 One DATA Report - thoughts

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If you don't know about One, it's a global advocacy and campaigning organization backed by more than 2 million people from around the world dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.  I recently read the One Data Report, which is an accountability report following the progress (or lack thereof) of countries seeking to go after the United Nations' Millienium Development Goals for Africa.  I want to encourage you to read both the Millenium Development goals if you never have, to encourage and follow their progress, and to follow One as well.  Here are some of the MDG's and some measureable targets: Goal 1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Target:  Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day)
  • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

Goal 2: To achieve universal primary education

  • Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

Gaol 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

  • Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

  • Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio
  • Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria & other diseases

  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources
  • Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
  • Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
  • By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

  • Address the special needs of the least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing states
  • Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system
  • Deal comprehensively with developing countries’ debt
  • In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
  • In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications

The One Data Report focuses primarily on the progress that the G8 (and other) countries are making on their promises to financial commitments for aid, particularly to Africa, in pursuit of the MDG's.  This report is particularly focused on the Gleneagle's Summit of the G8 in Scotland in 2005 where leaders focused on Africa and climate change. They agreed to double aid to Africa and to eliminate outstanding debts of the poorest countries. As outlined in the Gleneagles communiqué the G8 nations agreed together to increase aid to developing countries by around $50 billion a year by 2010. Of this, at least $25 billion would go to Africa.  The One Data Report looks particularly at these commitments.  Here are some highlights from One's Data Report 2009:

  • "It is unfortunately true that when the rich become less rich, the poor become even poorer."  One of the important things noted in the report is that the global economic crisis, while hurting the rich and middle class of the world, hurts the impoverished and hungry in an even more alarming way.
  • "As capital inflows dwindle and access to credit becomes more difficult, we not only have a shared responsibility to ensure that the poorest are protected from the devastating impact of the crisis, but also that this opportunity to move towards a more sustainable economic development model is seized."  There are some powerful thoughts here that I agree with.  The first is that we are all dealing with the financial pinch and with being out of control.  Our tendency might be to immdediately become self-protecting, without thinking of those who are more vulnerable than we are.  Secondly, there is an opportunity in this crisis to face our penchant for greed and the riches of this world, to confess it, and to creatively imagine a more sustainable, biblical world of justice, peace, and sharing of resources.  The bible certainly makes the case for both the care of the vulnerable and poor as well as the radical redistribution of wealth.  Maybe this global crisis is the wake-up call we need.  There is certainly a danger in recovery that we will forget and miss the opportunity to see what God may be saying to us about our interdependence and our responsibility to our brothers and sisters around the world.
  • "The evidence is that aid, used accountably by governments acting in the interests of their people and in an open manner, can make a measureable, positive difference, contributing to better educated, healthy and employed men and women."  Though I'm generally skeptical of what government can accomplish, and I've had reservations about the effectiveness of global aid (maybe later we can talk about that...) I was surprised to see the measurable positive effect that aid to Africa has been making.  Government cannot solve our problems.  God is our King, our Providor, and our salvation.  It is true, though, that God uses governments and blesses the nations whose hearts follow his.  Read the goals above again.  Do any of them reflect the heart of God?  Might he bless the UN if it's heart beat is his?
  • "African citizens have used the ODA (Official Devlepment Assistance) flows that have been delivered to provide AIDS treatment to nearly 3 million people, to dramatically reduce deaths from malaria and to help put 34 million more children in school.  Sub-Saharan Africa's economies on average expanded by 5.4% in 2008; for the first time in more than 45 years, the continent's growth has exceeded 5% for five consecutive years."
  • I was pleased and suprised to see that the US has not only met its commitments at Gleneagle's, but has surpassed them and will likely meet the goals sometime in 2009 ahead of schedule.  It was interesting to learn that France and Italy were the countries that are far behind their goals and commitments.  Now, having said that, the US commitments were much more modest in terms of actual percentage of Gross National Income.  One of the things I realized in reading this was the way that the G8 countries can a) challenge another accountable to high commitments, and b) hold one another accountable.  I loved the tenor of the report in its sense that even if some countries meet their goals, if the whole fail, then they all fail together.  There is a real sense of mutual responsibility that I like.  It's also important to look at such things as global trade percentages as well.  (Some will advocate for "Trade not Aid," but I would advocate for both until a more balanced global economy emerges, if that's possible.  The reason some advocate for Trade not Aid is because a 1% increase in trade for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2007 was worth $119 billion, which was more than 3 times the total amount of ODA.  Trade can be more powerful, but again, that may be only for the rich and middle class in Africa as well.)

That's probably enough to chew on for now.  If (like me) you're really interested in this stuff, you can read a more indepth analysis of the full UN Millenium Development Goals in The Millenium Development Goals Report 2008.

people whose income is less than $1 a dayGao

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