Sub-Saharan Africa ‘not on track to meet MDGs by 2015’
By Our reporter
Rwanda and other sub-Saharan Africa countries are still facing serious challenges of reaching the 2015 UN millennium development goals (MDGs), a new report says.
Despite major improvements, the report says, there were still too many people being left behind calling for intensified efforts to improve the economic gap. Progress tends to bypass those who are lowest on the economic ladder or are otherwise disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability or ethnicity.
While stressing that achieving the MDGs largely depends on ensuring women’s empowerment and equal opportunities for women and men, girls and boys, the report also shows that achieving this goal remains a long way off.
The Millennium Development Goals Report 2011, launched last Thursday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Geneva, finds that sub-Saharan Africa improved the fastest among all developing regions in many areas, especially those related to health. However, sixty-two per cent of the urban population lives in slums, the highest rate of any region.
It says the region leads the world in steadily reducing new HIV infections in addition to treatment for HIV/Aids which has expanded quickly.Ban Ki-moon, said there is reason to celebrate, as major successes have been made since world leaders in the year 2000 established the goals to reduce extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease.
“Already the MDGs have helped lift millions of people out of poverty, save countless children’s lives and ensure that they attend school,” he said. “They have reduced maternal deaths, expanded opportunities for women, increased access to clean water, and freed many people from deadly and debilitating disease.
At the same time, the report shows that we still have a long way to go in empowering women and girls, promoting sustainable development, and protecting the most vulnerable from the devastating effects of multiple crises, be they conflicts, natural disasters or volatility in prices of food and energy.” The proportion of people living with HIV receiving antiretroviral treatment increased from 3 per cent in 2004 to 37 per cent in 2009.
The region is most heavily affected by HIV and Aids, accounting for 69 per cent of new HIV infections, 68 per cent of all people living with HIV and 72 per cent of Aids deaths in 2009.
The report says that between 2000 and 2009, sub-Saharan Africa had the largest decreases in malaria deaths.
Since 2000, Botswana, Cape Verde, Eritrea, Madagascar, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia reduced the number of confirmed malaria cases and deaths by more than 50 per cent. It notes that between 2008 and 2010, 290 million insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria were distributed in the region, enough to cover 76 per cent of the 765 million people at risk. The number of people in the region with access to safe drinking water increased from 252 million to 492 million between 1990 and 2008, according to the MDGs Report, growing from 49 to 60 per cent of the population.
Regarding education, the report says that with an 18-percentage-point gain between 1999 and 2009, sub-Saharan Africa improved the most of any region in primary school enrolment.
Tanzania, Burundi, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo have achieved or are nearing the goal of universal primary education.In Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique and Niger, net enrolment ratios in primary school increased by more than 25 percentage points from 1999 to 2009.
However almost half of the world’s out-of-school children (32 million) live in sub-Saharan Africa, the report says. Girls’ school enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa is the second lowest of all regions at the primary education level and the lowest at the secondary and tertiary education levels.
Although major inroads are being made in reducing child mortality in the region with four countries achieving more than a 50 per cent reduction between 1990 and 2009, the highest levels of under-five mortality continue to be found in sub-Saharan Africa.
And despite advances in many countries in reducing maternal deaths, sub-Saharan Africa also has the highest maternal mortality level in the world 640 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008.
This is more than twice the average in the developing regions and 38 times the average in the developed regions. The report says that in sub-Saharan Africa, child underweight prevalence only decreased from 27 per cent in 1990 to 22 per cent in 2009, which means the region may not reach the MDGs’ hunger-reduction target.
Using the latest poverty data available, the report says, sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to meet the poverty-reduction target. In 2005, 51 per cent of its population lived in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 a day), down only seven points from 58 per cent in 1990. “Progress tends to bypass those who are lowest on the economic ladder or are otherwise disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability or ethnicity,” Mr Ban said.
But recent World Bank projections are slightly more upbeat, forecasting that the extreme poverty rate in the region will fall below 36 per cent by 2015, based on economic growth performance and trends.
Although aid to developing countries reached a record high in 2010, the report notes, only $11 billion has been received of the $25 billion increase promised to sub-Saharan Africa at the 2005 Gleneagles G8 Summit, owing mainly to shortfalls from some European donors that give large shares of their aid to Africa. First agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000, the eight MDGs set worldwide objectives for reducing extreme poverty and hunger, improving health and education, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015.