As we come towards the end of the first quarter of 2014, it means we have less than 2 years to 2015; the year we are supposed to see the world meeting the Millennium Development Goals. In my opinion and having been following development events globally, Goals 4 to 8 have had some great successes so far, as we have seen a reduction in new HIV cases, reduction of child mortality rates, improved maternal health, reduction in malaria cases and formation of a global partnership for Development. Even though I included Goal 7 of Environmental sustainability as a success, there is still a need to revisit the issue of displacement due to major corporate projects. We might say that tsunamis and hurricanes are natural phenomena, but if we look closely, it is Mother Nature’s way of paying us back from the way we are abusing the very natural resources that are supposed to be life-sustaining. Development of mega-projects have to be done; they provide irrigation and supply clean water and electricity, but focus should be on finding better ways of relocating the people to be displaced and not bunching them in areas with sandy soils and no hope of meaningful cultivation. Let’s move away from the corporate mindset that everyone needs to be employed so as to earn money so that they buy mass-produced goods; people need to carry out their quiet life in their compounds, preserving their cultural heritage (read Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’).
Goal 1: genetically modified crops are not the answer to hunger and poverty eradication. There is so much food being produced in the world and there are so many resources, but it’s the distribution that is problematic, and that needs to be addressed. Let me be clear here that re-distribution of resources does not mean developed countries going into under-developed countries to occupy and grab resources with little or no compensation.
Goal 2: Primary education needs to be free and more schools have to be built and equipped. This is one area that needs more funding as it builds the foundation of a child’s future.
Goal 3: A lot of progress has taken place towards gender equality and empowerment, especially the fact that most men have joined in the move towards eradicating violence against women. The most recent rape case in India shows how men have come together with women to decry such heinous crimes. A lot needs to be done in terms of placing women in decision-making positions at all levels, to view women as partners, to avail equal opportunities for the girl-child as much as the boy-child.
Two more years is all we have to work towards reaching these goals; everyone has a part to play.