Home » Governance » From Millennium to Sustainable Goals – Is Name Change the Answer to Poverty?

Zimbabwe, like many other less developed countries, will not be able to meet the 2015 deadlines of achieving the United Nations millennium development goals (MDGs).

As a result, UN member states have embarked on a new and inclusive programme, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the MDGs. These SDGs are supposed to be met by 2030.

The new programme attempts to address the shortcomings and challenges that were experienced with implementing MDGs.

The eight MDGs that were mapped by the UN member states as part of their development agenda included eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowerment of women, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

The goals included combating HIV and Aids, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

The Zimbabwe United Nations Association (Zuna), which is pushing for dissemination of information about transacting from MDGs to SDGs, said Zimbabwe had performed dismally in most of the MDGs.

Zuna president, Fischer Chiyanike said there was however significant progress noted in achieving MDG goal number seven, which is to do with ensuring environmental sustainability as well as number three aimed at promoting gender equality and empowerment of women.

Chiyanike said strides were also noted in combating the spread of HIV and Aids. The other MDG goals, for example, number four to reduce child mortality, and goal number five to improve maternal health, were however, far from implementation.

“Amongst the eight MDG goals, Zimbabwe is performing better in MDG goal number seven to do with environmental sustainability, and in goal number three to do with promotion of gender equality,” said Chiyanike. “We managed to ensure environmental sustainability because of a lot of programmes that non-governmental organisations carried out and supported,” he said.

“We also managed to make strides on gender equality and empowerment — although we have not yet attained the 5050 ratio — but now women have 30% seats in Parliament, and the corporate world has also witnessed female leaders, as well as the security sector where female entrepreneurs like Divine Ndhlukula of Securico have made [an] impact.”

Zuna board member, Ronald Mubaiwa said one of the biggest drawbacks of MDGs was that data was often years out of date and with inaccurate statistics. He said the private sector should also be engaged from the very start as it had the massive capacity and greater influence.

“The post-2015 development agenda [SDGs] believes that there must be an urgent priority for the international community and four principles have been identified for its guidance in that it should be holistic, inclusive, equitable and universally applicable,” he said.

“By holistic, it means it is imperative that SDGs reflect an integrated and balanced treatment of the three dimensions of sustainable development. Inclusivity means the process through which the future framework will be framed must be transparent, open and participatory, recognising access to information and decision-making as the foundation of good environmental governance through engagement with people affected by poverty, particularly those who experience marginalisation such as women, disabled people and indigenous people.”

Economist, Godfrey Kanyenze said there was need for development discourse so that there was national ownership of SDG programmes to ensure they succeeded by the set target of 2030.

“MDG targets failed because developmental goals were set at high levels by heads of states. It is not heads of states that implement goals on issues such as health and most of the goals were developmental in nature. There is therefore need for broader consultation with all stakeholders, including the ordinary people and for a communication strategy in order for dissemination of information on MDGs and SDGs,” said Kanyenze.

He said external assistance was also imperative to ensure MDGs succeeded but the problem was that in Zimbabwe such assistance was not forthcoming.

Kanyenze said the gross domestic product (GDP) of many African countries averaged 7%, but it had been impossible for the countries to eradicate poverty and to ensure MDG goals succeeded.

“Most of these countries have mineral resources but poverty has not been eradicated. There is need to leverage leakages in management of mineral resources because mining in most African countries has not been integrated into the economy,” said Kanyenze.

He said corruption was another factor that resulted in failure to achieve MDG goals because it diverted resources and distorted priorities.

“In the end programmes to improve access to water, sanitation, and health and so on suffer,” he said.

In 2012, Zimbabwe lost approximately US$2 billion to corruption in 2012, according to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

In its 2013 index, Transparency International listed Zimbabwe as more corrupt than Nigeria. The list released by the Berlin-based organisation placed Nigeria as 144th out of 175 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, while Zimbabwe was ranked 157th.

For a long time, there had been a perception that Nigeria was one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Kanyenze said SDGs needed to have inclusive internal reviews of the process and agreements with stakeholders on the way forward. He said it was important for the school curriculum to include courses on SDGs as a way of information dissemination, including public outreach programmes to people in urban and rural areas in order for them to understand the goals.

Zuna said it had formed chapters at six universities in the country to start disseminating information about SDGs to students and members of the public. The selected institutions included the University of Zimbabwe, Bindura University of Science and Technology, Midlands State University, Lupane State University, Solusi University and the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).

They said this would be a pilot programme and upon its success, other chapters would be opened at teachers colleges and polytechnic colleges.

Zuna said an online platform had been set to enable the youth to engage into e-discussions and feed information on what they thought should be done to achieve SDG goals.

Some of their communication dissemination programmes, said the association, would include lobbying Parliament, government departments and other stakeholders like the media to help in dissemination of information on SDGs.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard