Pambazuka News 220: Aid dependence and the MDGs
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Featured in this issue
In search of MDG progress
In September 2000, 189 world leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration. They committed to "free all men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty".
In pursuit of this noble end, eight Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) were developed to: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; Achieve universal primary education; Promote gender equality and empower women; Reduce child mortality; Improve maternal health; Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; Ensure environmental sustainability; and Develop a global partnership for development. The deadline set for achieving these goals was 2015.
From 14-16 September 2005, the United Nations will host a Millennium+5 Summit to evaluate the progress towards the MDGs. Perhaps not surprisingly in a world where global agreements are not often worth the paper they are written on, world leaders will find a litany of broken promises and lack of political commitment. In Africa, it is estimated that some of the goals won’t be met until the middle half of the next century, at current rates of progress.
It doesn’t look like world leaders are likely to make any great efforts to change this rate of progress. A draft declaration for a UN text on the MDGs looks unlikely to get agreement after the US made demands that are seen by some as a reversal of the draft declaration and difficult to accommodate.
This week, our collection of articles in the Editorial and Comment and Analysis sections, tackle the MDGs, examining them from the perspective of aid dependency, women’s rights, and their application to grassroots communities. Throughout many of the articles, a clear trend emerges. Without debt cancellation, fair terms of trade and increased resource flows, Africa is unlikely to achieve the MDGs.
EDITORIAL: Demba Moussa Dembele explains the hidden political and economic costs of the aid dependency syndrome
- The MDGs can advance women’s rights only if they adopt a rights-based approach, argues Yifat Susskind
- Esther Mwaura-Muiru goes looking for the role of grassroots communities in the MDGs
- The MDGs might be flawed but “they’re all we’ve got and they’re worth striving for” says Ezra Mbogori
- Cancellation of debt, increased resource flows and fair trade are needed to make the MDGs a reality, writes Charles Mutasa
- It’s not all doom and gloom, Hellen Tombo believes. Some of the MDGs can be achieved
- Rebecca Ajabo Asaba wonders how many hundreds of years Africa will have to wait before the global economic, financial and trade architecture is restructured
- Find out how Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia are doing in their efforts to reach the MDGs
LETTERS: Capitalism as genocide, indigenous as relevant, poverty and injustice
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Hurricane Katrina could teach the US that it is a co-tenant in the world and not a landlord, writes Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
- The US response to Katrina, links for further information and fundraising sources
BLOGGING AFRICA: Bloggers get poetic
GLOBAL CALL TO ACTION AGAINST POVERTY: 300 000 say NO! to poverty in Accra, find out about an event near you for White Band Day 2, Use your cellphone to demand an end to poverty
CONFLICT&EMERGENCIES: Hunger threatens southern Africa
HUMAN RIGHTS: Rich countries hold world hostage on human rights
REFUGEES: Improving decision-making in asylum determination
WOMEN&GENDER: Progress of the world's women 2005: women, work & poverty
DEVELOPMENT: UN MDG report urges global leaders to avoid 'one more empty promise'
HEALTH&HIV/AIDS: In search of an HIV/AIDS vaccine
ENVIRONMENT: Export subsidies for dams: a Trojan horse for environmental destruction
ADVOCACY&CAMPAIGNS: Sign a letter to President of Botswana Festus Mogae urging him to reverse his expulsion of academic Prof. Kenneth Good
PLUS…Internet, Courses, Fundraising, Jobs and Books.
Aid dependence and the MDGs
Demba Moussa Dembélé
Meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) requires billions of dollars. The fix-all solution often mentioned is simply to increase aid flows. Demba Moussa Dembele critiques the foreign aid industry, explaining why aid is more of an enemy than a friend, how aid dependency has been augmented by IMF and World Bank conditions and what the hidden political and economic costs are for African countries.
The present focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has reignited the debate on the need for more aid to developing countries to help them meet the MDGs by 2015. However, this has inevitably rekindled the parallel debate as to whether more aid is really the answer. Will extra money simply shore up inefficient governments and feed government corruption? One response to this is to say we must bypass government and make money available directly to NGOs and other organizations. At the same time, others claim that what is needed is not more aid, but a fundamental transformation of international power relationships, especially reform of international trade and finance rules to allow African and other developing countries to sell their goods and services at a fair price.
A number of ideas for raising more money to meet the MDGs have been floated recently. While the UN Millennium Project’s report, Investing in Development, calls for an overall huge increase in aid, the Commission for Africa report calls for a doubling of aid to Africa. The French government’s Landau Report suggests a number of innovative sources of financing, while Gordon Brown’s International Finance Facility proposal envisages selling bonds issued by industrialized countries with a view to raising money in financial markets to finance development.
A central misconception about aid
But before going into the debate on whether aid does encourage dependency and inefficiency, we need to address a particular misconception: that aid to developing countries, known as official development assistance (ODA), is an act of simple generosity towards poor countries in dire need of capital to invest in education, health, infrastructure, and so forth, and that it comes with no strings attached. Development assistance is neither value-free nor benevolent. It has served and continues to serve the economic, political and strategic interests of ‘donor’ countries. This was particularly so during the Cold War period. It is even more evident today, especially from the USA.
The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), for instance, the Bush Administration’s main tool for foreign ‘aid’, is laden with ideological, political and economic conditions. Eligible countries should support, or not oppose, US foreign policy; they should adopt ‘free market’ reforms, good governance practices, and so forth. It could also be added that so far, not a single dollar from the MCA has been delivered to African countries.
Furthermore, with the onset of the debt crisis in the late 1970s, Western governments and multilateral institutions under their control started imposing crippling conditions on aid to impoverished countries.
An instrument, not a gift
So aid is an instrument, not a gift. For many Western countries and institutions, it plays a key role in their overall strategy to maintain and even expand their influence in Africa. This is particularly true for former colonial powers such as France and Britain, which have used aid to maintain their influence in former colonies, in economic, financial, military and strategic areas. This type of aid does create dependency and it is intended to, since its primary objective is to shore up regimes that are ‘friendly’ to Western countries, regardless of the nature of those regimes. This explains, among other things, why a dictatorial and inept regime like Mobutu’s in the former Zaire was kept afloat despite the looting of his country’s resources and the rampant corruption that characterized his regime. Billions of dollars looted by Mobutu are still stashed in Western banks while the Congolese people continue to live in abject poverty.
Giving with one hand …
Another problem with aid is that it mostly benefits donor countries. Despite the formal end to the practice of ‘tied aid’, the money disbursed as aid goes mainly to foreign-controlled enterprises and aid flows are used to buy goods and services from donor countries. The prices of those goods are often higher than the market price of similar goods. Export credit agencies and banks in Western countries have played a key role in that area. A recent report by ActionAid pointed out that for every dollar disbursed by France and the US in the form of aid, 89 per cent and 86 per cent return home, respectively.
More strings attached
Moreover, since the start of the debt crisis, aid dependency has been aggravated by conditions imposed by the IMF and World Bank. Since the 1980s, aid from Western countries has been conditional on recipient countries implementing policies dictated by these two institutions. Even aid from former colonial powers to their former colonies is now conditional on signing an agreement with the IMF. But it has become clear that these policies have done more harm than good. A recent report by Christian Aid indicates that over the last 20 years, the imposition of trade liberalization has cost African countries a staggering $272 billion, a sum that could have paid back the continent’s debt. The report adds that the loss was roughly equivalent to the amount of foreign aid received by African countries during the same period.
The Christian Aid report corroborates findings by UNCTAD in 2001 which show that policy conditionalities imposed on African countries, especially trade liberalization and deregulation, have also cost the continent in deteriorating terms of trade and increased capital flight, which is higher than in any other region in the world. UNCTAD observed that, had Africa’s terms of trade remained at their 1980 level, the continent’s share in world trade would have been twice its current share; per capita income could have been 50 per cent higher; and annual growth would have increased by an additional 1.4 per cent. Worse still, this deterioration, combined with increased capital flight and debt repayments, led to a net transfer of real resources from Africa to the rich countries! Clearly, with stable terms of trade, African countries would have been much better off and would depend less on foreign aid.
Unfair trade and aid dependency
To give an illustration: in 2002, subsidies for cotton provided by the US caused a 25 per cent decrease in cotton prices, which translated into a loss of $300 million by African exporters, such as Mali, Benin and Burkina Faso, a higher sum than the entire ‘debt relief’ ($230 million) promised by the IMF and the World Bank to all African countries eligible for the HIPC Initiative. Subsidies by OECD countries – which, according to UNDP, cost more than six times what they spend on aid to poor countries – have increased African countries’ food deficit and dependency. By flooding African markets with cheap, subsidized food, industrialized countries destroy domestic food production and increase African countries’ dependency on food imports, which are paid for through new loans or ‘aid’ from the same industrialized countries.
The debt crisis and aid dependency
These things – the cost of complying with conditions imposed by donors and lenders and subsidies on domestic produce by OECD countries – help explain, among other things, the worsening of the debt crisis, which in turn has meant greater dependency on foreign aid. In the 1980s and 1990s, the average debt service was roughly equal or even higher than foreign aid to African countries. Part of that aid was even used to pay back old debts, including multilateral debts. All this reinforced dependency on external sources, especially the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank. And, as a report by UNCTAD in 2004 indicates, Sub-Saharan Africa’s debt soared in the 1980s and 1990s, the peak years of structural adjustment. According to the report, though African countries had reimbursed $550 billion to creditors against $540 billion in loans between 1970 and 2002, Africa is still saddled with a debt estimated at $300 billion. This is a vicious circle which, up to now, has shown no sign of being broken.
What about the question as to whether aid simply encourages corruption and inefficiency? According to a recent article in the Ugandan daily, The Monitor, the country depends on international donors for 50 per cent of its budget. But the Uganda Revenue Authority collects only about 57 per cent of taxes due because of institutional weaknesses in tax administration and because ‘the rich and politically powerful don’t pay taxes’. Meanwhile, Uganda spends $200 million on the military, where $70 million is enough for its security needs, and a Ministry of Finance study shows that public administration expenditure could be cut by 50 per cent. Uganda, therefore, does not need aid, says the article; what it needs is to improve its tax administration, clamp down on tax evaders, and abandon its corrupt and profligate military and public administration expenditure.
It is true that corruption is still rampant in many African countries and African civil society organizations have raised this problem time and again. In several countries anti-corruption NGOs are working tirelessly to raise public awareness and expose corrupt officials and practices. This is part of our struggle for more democratic, accountable and transparent governments. There is no doubt that the elimination of corruption would contribute to reducing dependency on foreign aid through improvement in public savings and more effective tax collection systems that would help raise significant amounts of money for the state.
But, once again, the problem of corruption has two sides: the corruptor and the corrupt. However, Western governments and multilateral agencies tend to focus exclusively on African governments and overlook the role of foreign companies and banks in maintaining corruption.
But here too Western countries have had a crucial influence. First, the imposition of structural adjustment programmes by the IMF and World Bank has considerably weakened African states and impaired their ability to fight corruption more effectively. In the 1990s, for instance, many countries lost some of their best civil servants as a result of ‘voluntary leaves’ recommended by these two institutions, more concerned by the wage bill than the quality of the civil service. In addition, they propose fighting corruption by a further financial squeeze of the state through the establishment of a myriad of ‘independent’ agencies that take away resources that should normally go to the state. But this is a mistake, since corruption may simply move from central government to local governments and so-called ‘independent’ agencies. The best way to fight corruption is through democratic scrutiny and accountability of elected officials.
African economies have inherited structural weaknesses from colonization, which have made them more vulnerable to external shocks, such as commodity price fluctuations and higher interest rates. In addition, these economies depend to a large extent on trade and financial flows with former colonial powers. This also tends to foster aid dependency: when exports fall, African countries rely on hard currencies for imports of equipment, foodstuffs and essential goods.
The costs of aid dependency
The dependency on foreign aid has political as well as economic costs. It is obvious that a country that depends on foreign assistance for up to 40 per cent of its budget cannot control its own policies. Instead, as the IMF and World Bank’s structural adjustment programmes show, donors dictate economic and financial policies, based on their own world view and interests. The structural adjustment programmes, imposed by the IMF and World Bank, are a reflection of that reality. As already indicated, this has worsened the economic crisis and deepened external dependency, while the conditions attached to such multilateral aid are the principal cause of the abject poverty affecting more than half of the African population.
In short, much of the so-called aid given by Western countries and the loans made by multilateral institutions are not based on developing countries’ real needs, nor on any performance criteria, but primarily on the interests of ‘donors’. It’s time, now, to consider some possible alternatives.
What is the alternative?
Obviously, there is no easy solution to the problem of aid dependency. There are no quick fixes nor a general policy applicable to all countries. However, we think that the following proposals should be explored by African and Western countries as a basis for a lasting solution to the problem.
- Cancel unconditionally the debt of all African countries. This is a precondition for any possibility of recovery. Once the burden of debt is lifted, aid will no longer be simply a means of perpetuating an instrument of domination.
- Repatriate stolen wealth. Even the Commission for Africa Report acknowledges that tens of billions of dollars in stolen wealth are kept in Western countries. Some estimates put that stolen wealth at 70 per cent of private wealth, excluding land. The repatriation of that would significantly limit African countries’ need for foreign aid.
- End IMF and World Bank policies. Trade liberalization, deregulation, fiscal austerity and privatization have been some of the leading factors behind the worsening of African countries’ financial crisis and their growing dependence on foreign aid. They have also increased capital flight, which reached unprecedented proportions during the 1980s and 1990s.
- Abolish unfair trade policies and promote fair trade. Africa needs fair trade (rather than ‘free’ trade, which has exacerbated African countries’ need for hard currencies and thus their dependence on foreign aid).
In a fair trade framework, one acknowledges the asymmetry between African and industrialized countries’ economies. Fair trade would therefore keep in place special preferences for African exports, especially agricultural exports. Subsidies in Western countries which make African imports prohibitively expensive would be abolished. It would stop the dumping of subsidized products in African markets to the detriment of local production. Finally, it would support proposals for international agreements, as often suggested by UNCTAD, aimed at stabilizing commodity prices so as to limit, if not eliminate, the decline in African terms of trade.
This set of policies is the opposite of ‘free’ trade, which pretends to establish a ‘level playing field’ between African and industrialized countries!
- Change internal policies. The above policies must be complemented by fundamental internal changes. They include eliminating wasteful spending and fighting corruption more effectively. They also include more transparent decision-making and more accountable governments and institutions. At the continental level, the African Union must pursue its efforts to hold member states to some common standards so that economic and financial policies can be improved for the benefit of their citizens.
Does aid create dependency? The short answer is that, on the terms on which it has generally been given, it does, but it need not. Aid dependence is the result of both internal factors and deliberate external policies. Aid has been made to serve both the foreign policies of Western states and their wider economic interests. The terms of that aid, combined with Western protectionism, have been designed to keep Africa as a source of commodities and a consumer of manufactured goods from industrialized countries. This creates further aid dependence as the need for hard currencies is made more acute by the deterioration in the continent’s terms of trade.
On the other hand, aid which is consistent with African countries’ needs and priorities can certainly be a positive factor. The solution to aid dependence does not lie in a further privatization of that aid through corporations, like the MCA, or through Western NGOs. It lies rather in fundamental policy changes, both at the international and internal levels, which will rebalance many of the transactions, both economic and political, between Africa and the richer countries. More fundamentally still, Africa needs to put its own house in order and count first and foremost on its own resources. No amount of foreign aid alone will ever develop the continent.
* Demba Moussa Dembele is Director, African Forum on Alternatives, Dakar (Senegal). He can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected]
* Please send comments to [email protected]
* This article first appeared in the September issue of the Alliance Magazine and is gratefully reproduced here with permission. Alliance is the leading magazine on philanthropy and social investment across the world. Published quarterly by Allavida, it tracks the latest trends and developments providing expert analysis from northern and southern perspectives. Visit http://www.allavida.org/alliance/alliancehome.html
1 See www.unmillenniumproject.org/reports
2 Commission for Africa (2005) Our Common Interest. Report of the Commission for Africa London. The doubling of aid to Africa by 2010 was in fact agreed at the recent G8 Summit.
3 The Landau Report contains five tax proposals, including a tax on air and maritime travel, a tax on multinational corporations’ profits, a tax on arms sales, and a tax on financial transactions, known as the Tobin Tax.
4 ActionAid (2005) Real Aid: An agenda for making aid work. See www.actionaidusa.org/Action Aid Real Aid.pdf
5 Christian Aid (2005) The economics of failure: the real costs of ‘free’ trade. See www.christianaid.org
6 UNCTAD (2001) Economic Development in Africa. Performance, prospects and policy issues. New York & Geneva: United Nations.
7 UNCTAD (2003) Trade and Development Report 2003 New York & Geneva: United Nations.
8 UNDP (2003) Making Global Trade Work for the Poor London: Earthscan.
9 UNCTAD (2004) Economic Development in Africa. Debt Sustainability: Oasis or mirage? New York & Geneva: United Nations.
10 For further information on African positions that are critical of the whole set of relationships between Africa and Western countries, see Firoze Manji and Patrick Burnett (eds) (2005) African Voices on Development and Social Justice. Editorials from Pambazuka News 2004 Dar es Salaam: Mkuki Na Nyota Publishers. See also AFRODAD Reality Check on Development Aid Annual Reports. See www.afrodad.org.zw
A rights-based approach to the MDGs
Yifat Susskind explains why, if the MDGs are to be a tool for advancing women’s human rights, they will have to adopt a rights-based approach that goes beyond improving statistical indicators to addressing the root causes of human rights violations.
In 2000, world leaders representing all 191 countries that belong to the United Nations pledged to achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Since then, the goals have become the main framework for development policy worldwide. They have even been adopted by many of the international agencies and banks that control the budgets of most poor countries, giving the MDGs real currency in the political economy of UN declarations. The MDGs create opportunities for advancing women's human rights, but only if we are able to participate effectively in the process of realizing the goals.
Governments' commitments to the MDGs appear to be an extraordinary step forward, but when we scratch the surface of the goals, we find that their progress is measured by a set of technocratic "targets" and "indicators" that are limited in scope, contradictory in approach, and more concerned with statistical change than with creating the structural change that is crucial to improving the lives of women and their families worldwide.
Take Goal 3, for example (promoting gender equality and empowering women): its "target" is to eliminate gender disparity in education. Yet it will take much more than girls' education to combat the deeply entrenched violence, discrimination, stereotypes, laws, and customs that generate grave violations of women's human rights in every country of the world. The indicators intended to measure progress towards this goal are equally problematic.They include:
1. the ratio of girls to boys at all levels of schooling (with no regard for the quality or content of education and without addressing the social forces that keep girls out of school);
2. the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament (without regard for the more crucial question of whether these women respect human rights);
3. the share of women in non-agricultural sectors of the workforce (without recognition of the need for decent wages, working conditions, and public services such as day care, health care, clean water, and transportation that ease the time burden of women who are expected to work outside the home and fulfill their responsibilities within the family).
As we can see, the MDGs call for change, but not for creating the conditions to make real change possible. To address the root causes of the problems that the goals are supposed to rectify, we need to grapple with precisely those phenomena that the MDGs take for granted. These include policies that have increased poverty and inequality around the world (such as free-trade agreements, wage freezes, and hostility to worker organizing) and subordinated human rights to "national security" as defined by the Bush Administration. In fact, at a moment when the rights of both women and men have been badly eroded by such policies, we can see clearly the limitations of pursuing gender "equality." To whom should women be equal? Should women in Colombia demand "equality" with male co-workers who are being killed for union organizing? Should Rwandan women who are HIV-positive seek "equality" with Rwandan men who are denied high-priced AIDS medications? The real goal is not equality, but justice; and one of the best ways we have of ensuring justice is the fulfillment of human rights.
But the MDGs fail to even mention sexual and reproductive rights, women's labor and property rights, or one of the most fundamental obstacles to ensuring these rights, namely, violence against women. The glaring absence of these issues from the MDGs reflects the powerful role played by right-wing and fundamentalist governments such as the United States in their negotiation.
Reproductive rights, in particular, have been under fire by the US since 2000, when Bush took office and began defunding international family planning programs and revamping US reproductive health policy to placate his religious fundamentalist base. Women's human rights advocates have pointed out that sexual and reproductive rights are central to achieving at least four of the MDGs: women's equality and empowerment (Goal 3); reducing child mortality (Goal 4); improving maternal health (Goal 5); and combating HIV/AIDS (Goal 6). Moreover, since human rights are indivisible, empowering women is crucial to realizing all of the goals. Conversely, none of the goals can be realized without ensuring that goal.
One way to gain insight into any policy is to look at its authors. The MDGs are sponsored jointly by the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While the United Nations operates within a human rights framework, the missions of the World Bank and IMF are to advance a set of economic policies that are often at odds with human rights. In fact, the MDGs infuse neoliberal priorities into development policy using the language of human rights. They seek to "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger" (Goal 1), but rely on the discredited notion that economic growth at the national level (GNP) can eliminate poverty; and they assume that privatization of services is a strategy for rather than an obstacle to-economic development. At the heart of the MDGs beats a fundamental contradiction: poor countries are expected to meet the MDGs by implementing the very neoliberal economic policies that have, in large measure, caused the crises that the goals are intended to address. These policies include cutting government spending, privatizing basic services, liberalizing trade, and producing goods primarily for export.
As we have seen, the methodology and assumptions of neoliberal economics inform the MDGs, which rely heavily on the indicator of "absolute poverty" (which measures the proportion of the population surviving on less than a certain amount of income each day). The MDGs use the World Bank standard of an income of US $1 per day to indicate extreme poverty.
This income-based measurement of poverty obscures the experience of millions of people, for whom poverty is not primarily a function of income, but of their alienation from sustainable patterns of consumption and production. Indigenous women, for example, assert that their poverty and wealth are determined primarily by access to, and control of, their natural resources and traditional knowledge, which are the sources of indigenous culture and livelihoods. In indigenous communities, human rights (namely, governments' recognition of collective indigenous rights over land, natural resources, and traditional knowledge) are key to fighting poverty.
But the MDGs do not recognize that poverty is a function of human rights violations (such as the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to freedom from discrimination, and the right to development). Indeed, the MDGs posit housing, health care, and access to food and water not as non-negotiable and universal rights, but as "needs" to be met. By extension, the poor are not seen as autonomous subjects demanding that governments meet their legal obligations, but as a passive "target group" of policymaking. Sustainable development - which depends on broad civic participation, social justice, and a fundamental shift in the balance of power - is sidelined by this failure of the MDGs to operate within a human rights framework.
In fact, human rights standards are a useful yardstick for evaluating the MDGs. They reveal that the MDGs are not a spontaneous expression of governmental goodwill. Rather, the MDGs constitute pre-existing international obligations, some dating back more than 50 years.
Ultimately, for the goals to be a tool for advancing women's human rights, they must be treated not as a technical process, but as a political process. MADRE is working with our sister organizations and other women's organizations internationally to push for a rights-based approach to the MDGs that goes beyond improving statistical indicators to addressing root causes of human rights violations.
* Yifat Susskind is associate director of Madre. This article first appeared on Madre’s website at www.madre.org/articles/int/mdgcritique.html
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Grassroots Communities and the MDG Framework
Esther Mwaura-Muiru introduces two women’s self help groups in Kenya and asks why the contribution of thousands of grassroots organisations are not recognized in helping to achieve the Millennium Devolvement Goals.
It is absolutely clear that the trend the debate on the Millennium Devolvement Goals (MDGs) is taking will have a significant influence on policies and resource allocation in every corner of the world for the next several years. Many national governments are already using the MDGs as the basis for developing policies while development agencies are focusing their resources on institutions and efforts that demonstrate contributions to the targets of the MDGs. While this trend is not necessary bad, there are a number of questions that still remain unclear to many grassroots communities.
These questions include:
Is the MDG framework an exhaustive tool to address inequality between the rich and poor as well as gender disparities? Will the framework assist the world in eradicating extreme poverty? (The majority of poor are women living in urban slums and interior rural areas where accessibility is limited.) One other pertinent question that ultimately must be addressed is whose development and with whom are we talking about? Are the MDGs just one more buzz-word among development agencies that will soon fizzle out ?
Five years since the debate on MDGs kicked off, the language is still very much within development institutions and government offices at the national level. Therefore, it is too much to expect collective efforts that also bring particularly grassroots communities on board in the debate unless deliberate effort is made to unpack and share this language. The irony is that while many agencies and governments are gearing themselves to the development of programmes and tools that will help them account for their contribution to achieving the MDGs, many of the grassroots communities are busy contributing to the set targets oblivious of the ongoing debates.
Consider Tuelewane and Mathare, self-help groups both located in the sprawling Nairobi Mathare slums. These two women self-help groups reclaimed abandoned public toilets over seven years ago. The group has an adjacent water point from which they sell water to the public. Today this project provides several households with access to proper sanitation, clean drinking water and substantial incomes to tens of households, all from resources generated by charging for these facilities.
These women are also members of Mathare Mothers Development Centre that undertakes various capacity building initiatives that benefit communities in Mathare slums, provide entrepreneurship skills to orphaned girls of 13-19 years old, give home care to approximately 400 sick, and provide day care shelter to infants. In addition, these women have formed coalitions and contribute daily savings to buy land with the hope that they will one day provide decent housing to their families. The Mathare Mothers Development Centre spearheaded implementation of the local-to-local dialogue that brings together government officials with local communities to discuss challenges of existing governance structures.
Essentially, these women’s groups are addressing their development holistically. It is needless to say that there are thousands of such many “invisible” innovations all over the world. The experience of GROOTS Kenya in partnering with hundreds of self help groups of women in Mathare makes us convinced that its time that the MDG debate considers grassroots communities.
The return for such investment includes the fact that governments and development agencies will have a credible base to allocate resources to upscale appropriate community driven solutions that are already ongoing. National reports on the MDGs may not be taking into account some of these remote contributions that continue to improve the lives of many people in the slums and are owned by the poor people themselves.
* Esther Mwaura-Muiru works for GROOTS Kenya ([email protected])
* Please send comments to [email protected]
MDGs: a case for pragmatism?
For Ezra Mbogori, writing off all southern debt, changing the trade regime and raising the level of aid constitute three of the four major steps necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and these are the responsibility of the North, not the South. The fourth step is addressing issues of governance. But behind the MDGs are larger moral and intellectual implications for the North as well as the South, he believes, which relate to finding out how lifestyles can be informed by the basic principles of sustainability and social justice.
It’s become almost a commonplace to find fault with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): they are minimal in their ambitions; they are based disproportionately on the views of the North rather than the needs of the South; they reduce to statistical targets matters of human aspiration and human need; they involve simply throwing money at questions whose solution is not primarily a matter of money – the list could go on. In spite of this, argues Ezra Mbogori of MWENGO, they’re all we’ve got and they’re worth striving for.
There is no question, he feels, that the MDGs are not all that they might be. They do not so much represent progress in the development argument as a kind of holding of the line: “The Millennium Development Goals are really for all intents and purposes minimum development goals. They fall far short of development commitments that were made in the past. But in our current situation, I think, the MDGs do help those who want to maintain some sort of focus on development to at least arrest the flight or regression … and they enable us to start building up arguments again for being a little more ambitious in pursuit of development.”
A spirit of pragmatism
So while the MDGs are unambitious, “they do offer a starting point”. He believes that both developed and developing countries are approaching the MDGs in a pragmatic spirit. He sees the need for the South to make compelling arguments to reinflate the notion of development, which had to some extent gone flat in the North.
In Mbogori’s view, this relates in part to more ambitious goals having been missed in the past. He begins his resume of the recent history of development with the ending of apartheid: “With the dismantling of apartheid and the coming into the fold of the community of states of South Africa, one of the biggest blights to humanity was overcome. And the new enemy of humanity on the planet was poverty … One doesn’t have to think too far back to remember the demands for health and education for all by 2000. Then came the year 2000 and none of those goals had been met. So I think that as the Millennium Declaration was being signed, there were pragmatists who thought, ‘Let’s not be too ambitious, let’s face it we’ve missed targets we’ve set in the past. So let’s set some modest targets that we can meet that will make a difference.’”
However, with terrorism becoming the top priority for northern countries after September 11, he believes poverty and development initiatives were sidelined. “The sudden shift of focus to terrorism tended to shift the attention almost entirely from the development goals that had been set, however modest they were. That’s why the MDGs now appear like such a radical set of targets.”
Moreover, while the MDGs are undoubtedly “less ambitious than developing countries would go for”, they do provide a framework that touches on some of the aspirations of southern countries. “The fact that they at least start to address some of the right questions is important for many of us. It’s almost a question of saying they’re better than nothing.”
Who framed the MDGs?
Another point of criticism of the MDGs is that they are a largely northern initiative that the South had no option but to go along with. Without being quite so categorical, Mbogori agrees that, while the Millennium Declaration was signed by leaders from both the South and the North, “I think quite frankly that the leadership came to a large extent from the North.” This touches on the question of the dynamics of power, about which he has much to say.
The heart of the matter
The dynamics are clearly reflected in the way the Goals are formulated, he argues. “If you analyse the MDGs, you see that Goals 1-7 are all focused on what southern countries and southern governments need to do.”
However, he suggests, the real key to success is Goal 8: “Goal 8 is for me the real clincher. It’s to do with the resources that are required and the structural shifts that need to happen, for instance in the areas of trade and writing off debt. I continue to get really frustrated,” he adds, “at the thought that if we were to write off all debt, and change the trade regime, and double the amount of aid – or take it to the level of 0.7 per cent of GNP that was agreed 35 years ago – the chances of meeting these goals would be increased many fold.”
For Ezra Mbogori, writing off all southern debt, changing the trade regime and raising the level of aid constitute three of the four major steps necessary to achieve the Goals, and these are the responsibility of the North, not the South.
What about corrupt and inefficient governments in the South, many northern commentators would ask at this point. However much aid you throw at the problem, nothing will be done until governance and efficiency are improved. The fourth step, he agrees, is addressing issues of governance, “because that would have a direct impact on the question of corruption and address accountability in relation to application of resources.”
He believes, though, that the common argument that unless governance and efficiency improve, a good deal of aid will be wasted, is largely an “escapist” one. In other words, it is advanced by people who “want to find an excuse for not meeting their commitments anyway”.
Modest goals, massive challenge
Of course, the ambitiousness of any aim is proportionate to the means available to its attainment. In the case of the MDGs, their achievement is dependent on the existence of sufficient will and means among the international community. Seen in this light, 2015 might actually be overambitious as a date for achieving them. Mbogori cites economist Jeffrey Sachs, who claims that at the pace some countries are moving, the MDGs “won’t be met by 2100 let alone 2015”, especially in Africa. At the present rate, some goals may be achieved only in 2150. The MDGs may seem minimal and inadequate, but meeting them by 2015, Mbogori reminds us, would be a major achievement.
Nor does the apparent modesty of the Goals mean that they are not worth pursuing in themselves. Take the example of moving from living on $1 a day to $2 a day – considered in the light of what would be an acceptable standard of living in the North, this aim is so modest as to be offensive. But, he feels, “these sorts of measures give you something to work with”.
He tells a story that he came across during a piece of research for the Commonwealth Foundation. A Malawian woman, asked if she thought she lived in a good society, replied: “It is better to be a dog in the North, in a place like America, than to be a person here.” “It’s in that light,” says Mbogori, “that I look at switching from living on $1 a day to $2 a day to $3 a day. There’s a starkness about it.”
Where do grantmakers come in?
What questions does this pose for grantmakers? Mbogori sees a challenge particularly for those grantmakers who work primarily in the area of social justice. The challenge for them will be to support efforts to achieve the MDGs while continuing to maintain “their interest and creativity around achieving structural changes”.
But there is a bigger challenge still implicit in this, because it is at this point, for Ezra Mbogori, that “one starts to make connections between, for instance, the wasteful lifestyles of the North and the ability of the planet to sustain these lifestyles. If people were to say that development equates to similar kinds of lifestyle for everyone, what would that mean for this world? It requires a certain amount of creativity to begin to act in ways that educate everybody on the planet to see that there is a need for major structural changes. I think that’s a challenge for grantmakers.”
So behind the MDGs are larger moral and intellectual implications for the North as well as the South. “I think that there definitely needs to be a change in lifestyles – I’m not saying a reduction in standards, I’m saying a change in lifestyles. We have to recognize that, for instance, fossil fuel supplies are not infinite. They will run out at some point. So how do we ensure that our lifestyles are informed by basic principles of sustainability and social justice?”
A beginning, not an end
As already stressed, it’s important to keep in mind that while the MDGs can play an important part in development, they are still a minimum. There will be no occasion for complacency on the part of the international community if and when they are met. “I think grantmakers have a role here too. It’s like watching a fairly emotional movie, when the end is one that you feel good about. Now the challenge I see for grantmakers is to bring everybody’s attention to the fact that, even if the MDGs are achieved, it’s not going to be happy ever after. There are still major challenges around sustainability. We live in one world, one planet, and we have to make certain adjustments in order for it to really be a happy ever after situation.”
The role of southern NGOs
According to Mbogori, many southern organizations will already have been through a good deal of soul-searching before deciding to support the MDGs, and they will often have done so from a pragmatic conviction that, while deficient in many respects, the MDGs are “what there is”.
But he raises a final point in this connection. In spite of their willingness to throw their weight behind the MDGs, the contribution southern NGOs can make towards the formulation and achievement of development objectives is limited because they are on the wrong end of the power equation. “I always go back to the question of mutual respect and trying to create a platform on which we can debate these things as equals, which is almost impossible because of the power games that we’re playing all the time.”
In any case, he stresses, it is almost impossible for NGOs to provide any real support for the MDGs in a situation where they are struggling to survive. “I just came back from a meeting in South Africa where even as we tried to gear up the MDGs campaign, a lot of NGOs are on their deathbeds simply because they don’t have the resources to meet their basic operational needs on a day-to-day basis. One NGO leader I spoke to hadn’t been paid for three months.”
This is partly a matter of donors’ well-known reluctance to fund core costs. “Donors continue to exercise this strange control, where sometimes they agree to fund a programme but won’t fund any core costs. We are just going to have to keep pushing donors,” he says, “and telling them, look, for goodness sake, begin to see our point of view, and start to support some of these basic things. Even if it means getting out of your current mode and taking risks and actually helping to build an infrastructure of civil society organizations.”
This is something that’s “at the top of my mind right now”, says Mbogori. “I’ve been looking at how much time I spend simply worrying about whether I can meet my basic operating requirements and how much more I could do if I didn’t need to worry about that. I wonder if our northern partners ever really think about this. And I constantly wonder, how can we get them to a table where we can talk about it?”
A question of balance
The discussion has taken us a long way beyond the MDGs but for Ezra Mbogori the progression is a logical one. His final message seems to be that there is a balance to be struck in any view of the MDGs. While they represent a very modest advance in some respects, in other ways they are significant. Materially, limited though they are, achieving them will constitute a great advance for people in developing countries. Morally, they imply a rethinking of values and lifestyles for the world in general.
In any case, we should guard against the danger of thinking that their achievement – whether it happens sooner or later, and most current forecasts seem to suggest that it will be later – is anything more than a beginning. Development is a continuing process, not an event or series of events. And it’s not just a matter of poor people in poor countries. It concerns us all.
1 MWENGO is one of the focal points for the MDGs campaign in Southern Africa, supporting the building of national coalitions in several countries in the region.
* Ezra Mbogori is Executive Director of Mwelekeo wa NGO (MWENGO) in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted at [email protected]
* Please send comments to [email protected]
* This article first appeared in the September issue of the Alliance Magazine and is gratefully reproduced here with permission. Alliance is the leading magazine on philanthropy and social investment across the world. Published quarterly by Allavida, it tracks the latest trends and developments providing expert analysis from northern and southern perspectives. Visit http://www.allavida.org/alliance/alliancehome.html
Meeting the MDGs in Sub-Saharan Africa
Africa's development indicators are a worrying sign that progress towards the MDGs is lagging. Unconditional cancellation of all debt, the commitment of greater resources to the continent by rich countries, a reformed international trading system and the voices of African people at the centre of the process will all be essential to reinvigorating progress towards the MDGs, says Charles Mutasa.
It is no secret that many developing countries, donors and non-governmental organizations have made reaching the MDGs their top priority, but as the world reaches the 2005 MDGs review there are worrying signs of stagnation and reversal. Although rapid advances by some countries do show that the MDGs are achievable, Sub-Saharan Africa is yet to mobilise resources, political and financial support to meet specific global challenges, especially the fight against HIV/AIDS.
A 2003 UNDP review of sub-Saharan Africa's social development indicators provides a bleak picture of the region's progress towards the MDGs. The number of Africa's population living on less that $1 a day is increasing. It is also true that while most of the world made significant progress in the fight against hunger during the 1990s, the prevalence of underweight children remained at nearly 50% in South-central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The debt crisis, unfair international trading practices, tied aid interwoven with endless conditionalities, HIV/AIDS, conflicts, problems associated with economic indiscipline, lack of sustainable democracies and poor governance are among the host of stumbling problems to Africa's ability to attain the MDGs. Nowhere are the signs more ominous than in Sub-Saharan Africa, the world's poorest and least developed region. Africa entered the new millennium with the highest poverty and child mortality rates, and the lowest school enrolment figures in the world.
Looking at Uganda as a case in point, the debt stock soared from US$800million to US$4.3billion in 2003, continuing to be a heavy burden for a population of approximately 26 million. 75% of Uganda's debt is owed to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Most African countries, more so Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) graduates, continue to spend more on debt servicing than on health and education.
A number of African countries still need to customize the MDG targets to reflect national circumstances and priorities, which will increase the sense of national ownership and adapt development objectives to the socioeconomic and political realities of each country. For example, countries facing an acute HIV pandemic cannot be expected to achieve the same levels of progress as those not confronting one. In Southern Africa, for instance, there is a severe health crisis, with nine of its member states featuring in the ten African countries with the highest HIV/Aids prevalence rates. Malaria and tuberculosis also continue to wreak havoc in the region, leading to reduced economic productivity, high infant mortality rates and plummeting life expectancy. The problem of insufficient funding and red tape in the release of much-needed donor funds continues to hamstring progress in fighting health and social problems.
One of the problems with the goals is the inconsistency in reporting whether countries are on track to meet the MDGs. UNDP and national MDG reports have shown considerable differences, raising concerns about the reliability and credibility of indicators being used. Global, regional and national frameworks, strategies and processes must be harmonized so that accurate predictions and evidence-based policy decisions can be made.
The outcomes of the G8 on debt, aid and trade have been minimal indeed, failing to meet the desired expectations of many economic justice activists and governments in the South. The UN Millennium Campaign points out that many developing countries are saddled with such high levels of debt that paying off just the annual interest costs more than what is spent on health care and education combined.
While the Scotland G-8 debt deal is a step forward and sets an important precedent in terms of granting a 100% cancellation of debt to all severely indebted poor countries, which is what civic activists have long advocated for over years, the deal only represents one eighth of what Africa needs in terms of debt cancellation, as this means canceling only US $40 billion out of Africa's burgeoning debt stock of over US$330 billion. The $40 billion to be cancelled represents less than 10% of debt cancellation required for poor nations to meet the MDGs in 2015. The plan does not include middle-income countries that are heavily indebted and impoverished. Globally, the 18 countries that qualify immediately represent less than a third of countries (at least 62) that need full cancellation to meet the internationally agreed MDGs.
The G-8 debt agreement does not address the real global power imbalances. The question of creditor-debtor co-responsibility of the South's debt remains unresolved, as issues of odious and illegitimate debts continue to be swept under the carpet. It is not a lasting solution in which all stakeholders - debtors and creditors - have a say. It is just a piecemeal measure that seems to deal with the symptoms of the problems and not the causes.
It is important to note that the MDGs reinforce each other; progress on one front has positive spill-over effects on other variables. For instance, a breakthrough on Goal 8's debt question will definitely lower income poverty and increase household income in Africa which will then facilitate higher school enrolment levels, while better access to clean water reduces the toll of disease, and affects school drop-out rates.
The desire to attain the MDGs among development partners in a given country has had its positive impacts in Africa. In Uganda, for example, bilateral donors are now channeling about half of the country's aid into budgetary support, instead of funding individual projects. This reform gives governments more flexibility in spending decisions, reduces time and paperwork, and helps to align donor programmes with national development priorities. Uganda has in recent years recorded high school enrolment rates, though the quality of education is something still debatable.
In Tanzania, with the MDGs came the concept of donor harmonization, alignment and result based development planning which seems to be yielding results by reducing transaction costs, donor missions per year, corruption and procurement hick-ups.
As global targets the MDGs are as much applicable to countries in conflict or emerging from conflict as they are to countries that are not in the throes of civil unrest. Responses to conflict in Ivory Coast and Sudan's Darfur region demonstrate that the international community has the ability to unite against conflict and its associated ills as long as the political will to fostering a world free of civil unrest is there.
If Africa and other developing regions are to make significant and sustainable progress, far greater resources will have to be generated from all sources - debt relief, overseas development assistance, foreign direct investment, trade, and domestic investment and savings. As the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, rightly noted, apart from developing countries setting national strategies for the attainment of MDGs, "we will also need more convincing action from the developed countries to support those strategies by phasing out harmful trade practices, by providing technical assistance, and by increasing both the volume and quality of aid to levels consistent with the goals."
There is need for total unconditional debt cancellation from both multilateral and bilateral donors in order to give Africa a new start and a chance to attain the MDGs. Debt service in Africa continues to tear down schools and clinics without which MDGs will not be attainable.
Creditors and donors need to commit themselves to a timeline on which to fulfil the long overdue 0.7% of their GNP promised at Monterey's Financing for Development Conference. One of the most important challenges regarding the achievement of the MDGs is that co-operation between rich and poor countries must not turn into a recital of broken promises. The need for increased co-operation among donor governments, NGOs, pharmaceutical companies and African states to increase drug accessibility and strengthen health infrastructure cannot be over-emphasized.
Aid needs to have no strings attached; untied aid will help build local capacities in African countries which are a prerequisite to attaining the MDGs. Many a times local human resource capacity remains undeveloped as donors insist on their countrymen coming to work in the name of technical assistance without necessarily building local capacities.
MDGs will only become reality when those living in poverty have their voices heard. A human rights based development approach in which local grassroots people in Africa are the claim holders, holding their governments and donors accountable for their actions and obligations will foster development. In a nutshell, it is crucial for development practitioners to realise and acknowledge that people are not developed but they develop themselves.
The international trade regime needs to be democratized if Africa is to attain the MDGs. The failure of the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun in September 2003 was a further setback to Africa's development prospects. This has been worsened by the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that the European Union is promoting. Trade that removes subsides to European farmers and opens markets for African products is a great stride towards the MDGs in Africa.
There is urgent need to end all World Bank and IMF policies that hinder people's access to food, clean water, shelter, health care, education, and the right to organize. Pursuit of the MDGs could well be undermined in the future, as it has been in the past, if there is no change in structural adjustment policies. These policies include user fees, privatization and economic austerity programs forced upon recipient countries in the south, Africa being the chief victim.
Last but not least, political will, social action and the ability to galvanise resources for the MDGs is key. Partnership between the North and the South must be genuine, local participation and ownership of development at grassroots levels should not be cosmetic but real and meaningful. Attaining the MDGs require radical structural, institutional and policy changes at national, regional and global levels. Half baked solutions and measures will only leave Africa in deeper poverty.
* Charles Mutasa is a research and policy analyst and currently the acting coordinator of the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad).
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Snapshots on the MDGs: Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia
Education – According to the UNDP, school enrolment rates in Egypt increased during the 1990s, and between 1995 and 2002 the enrolment rates in primary education for boys improved by 5% and 9% for girls. However, in rural areas, the illiteracy rate for females is almost twice that of males (15.5 and 8%, respectively) for children aged 12 to 15. For those aged between 15 and 25, literacy rates have improved for males, by about 12% and 25% for females. As is the case for children, adult literacy rates vary greatly by region, but on average, the estimated illiteracy rate for the entire population of Egypt (15 years and older) dropped only from 25.7% in 2000 to 24.3% in 2003. The UNDP report of 2004 identified barriers to education, which involve the conditions of school facilities, the methods by which students are taught and the implemented curriculum.
Gender - While girls and women are integrating themselves into Egypt’s educational system at a reasonable rate, their participation in the economy lags behind. The gender composition in the economy is more balanced in urban areas. According to the UNDP, the unemployment rates for women decreased from 23.8% in 1995 to 22.6% in 2001, when the rate for men was 5.6%. Politically, Egypt lags behind in terms of the number of women involved in government. There is only a 2.4% representation of women in the People Assembly and 8% in the Shura Council. The Egyptian government is, however, drafting a new election law that may include measures to ensure increasing numbers of women in parliamentary seats.
Health –The infant morality rate dropped from 44 out of 1000 live births to 38 and for children under 5. The eradication of Malaria and TB are showing good progress in Egypt, as Malaria has been under control for almost 10 years, while Tuberculosis only has an infection rate of about 32 cases per 100 000 people. The UNDP report states that HIV/AIDS rates are low in Egypt, at 0.01 percent, but there is a problem with Hepatitis C. Some villages have prevalence rates as high as 57%, and strong public awareness raising campaigns as well as infection control programs are needed to reverse this trend.
Education – School enrolment rates for primary and junior secondary school in Nigeria fluctuated immensely between 1990 and 2000, according to the UNDP’s 2004 report. Enrolment increased between 1990 and 1994 from 68% to 86%, but declined to 70% in 1996. Literacy rates have also deteriorated for the population as a whole, falling from 58% in 1990 to 49% in 2001. Literacy rates among women and girls for this same time period fell from 44% to 41%. The UNDP report states that the challenges faced by the education system include resource and institutional constraints, poverty, culture and the quality of teaching.
Gender – Participation of women in secondary and tertiary education is limited, according to the UNDP, which has an overall effect on the involvement of women in stable wage employment and economic empowerment, although data shows that women are becoming increasingly represented in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector. Membership of women in politics is also limited, with only 1 woman out of 57 in the Senate and 3 of 445 in the Federal House of Representatives.
Health – Not a lot of progress has been made in reducing child mortality in Nigeria, according to the UNDP report. Under-five mortality rates have deteriorated since the 1990s and are now at rates of 243 and 153 out of 1000 births for urban and rural areas, respectively. It is very unlikely than Nigeria will be able to meet its goals for this target, due to obstacles such as poverty, low access to health care facilities, HIV/AIDS and poor maternal health. The HIV/AIDS rates for Nigeria are high, with estimates of between 3.2 to 3.8 million adults and children living with the disease at the end of 2003. In response, Nigeria’s HIV & AIDS Emergency Action Plan aims to increase awareness, promote behavioral change, foster community specific action plans, promote care and support, mitigate the effect of the disease, monitor and produce research.
Education – Enrolment rates in primary and secondary schools compare favorably with developed countries, at around 95%. However, there are low rates of high school completion for South Africans, and over half of high school graduates are white. The difference in attendance rates between girls and boys is nominal, according to the UNDP report of 2003, and in some cases is even higher for girls. The adult illiteracy rate for the whole of the country in 1991 was 14.6%, but has today fallen, with over 96% of the population literate.
Gender – While gender parity is at an acceptable level in the educational sphere, men dominate senior employment opportunities, and in turn, earn higher wages. Thus, women are relinquished to lower paying and less skilled positions. This can be seen in the decline of women in senior or managerial positions from 26.3% to 22.7% (1995 to 2001). The UNDP report states that politically, women hold almost one third or all seats in South Africa’s national parliament, comparing favorably to other developed countries.
Health – Under-five mortality has decreased in South Africa, from 93 to 70 per 1000 births, between 1990 and 1000, which is in line with the target of reducing child mortality by two thirds. This number was, however, higher in rural areas, with large disparities between the provinces. HIV/AIDS is an extremely pressing issue for South Africa, with one of the highest prevalence rates in the world. In 2002 an estimated 5.3 million people were infected. The UNDP report states that the areas that South Africa has targeted for improvement include prevention, treatment, care and support and research monitoring and surveillance.
Education – Zambia is experiencing reversals in educational attainment, with the primary net enrolment ration dropping by 4% between 1990 and 2003. However, the proportion of students reaching grade 7 increased from 64% to 73% between 2000 and 2003. Literacy rates for girls continue to be lower than those of males. A significant reason for these rates is the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has caused a decline in the number of teachers, besides other obvious consequences. Rural schools suffer more than urban areas, due to overcrowding and lack of resources. The 2003 UNDP report states that Zambia’s government has attempted to reverse these trends through the partnership of various organizations, both public and private sector.
Gender – The full participation of girls and women in secondary levels of education due to early marriage, pregnancy and domestic chores has resulted in fewer female university graduates, directly impacting the number of women in skilled, non-agricultural jobs. According to the UNDP, the number of women in Parliament has increased from 6% in 1991 to 12% in 2001, but remains below the target of 30%.
Health - In 1992 the infant mortality rate was 107 per 1000 births, but has dropped to 95 in 2002. Under-five mortality has dropped from 191 to 168 per 1000 births between 1992 and 2002, according to the UNDP. Malaria, inadequate health services and the high incidence rate of HIV/AIDS are some of the leading factors in infant and under-five mortality, but the Zambian government plans on instituting National Immunization Days, an Integrated Management of Childhood Infection Program, prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and nutrition and breastfeeding support programmes.
Education – Rates of enrolment in primary school jumped dramatically from 32% in 1990 to 57.4% in 2000, meaning that it will be possible for the Ethiopian government to meet the target goal, according to the 2005 UNDP report. The number of females enrolled in primary schools has also increased, from 29.4% to 52% between 1990 and 2000.
Health – Rates for under-five mortality have decreased, from 190 out of 1000 births in 1990 to 167 in 2000, and maternal mortality has decreased from 1400 in 100 000 births to somewhere between 500 and 700 in 2000. The HIV/AIDS rates, in 2000, sat at 7.3%, which is on target for the goals, according to the UNDP.
* Compiled by Karoline Kemp, Fahamu
The good, the bad and the possibility of the MDGs
The MDGs are characterized by a top-down approach, fail to recognize the intangible aspects of poverty and distract from the macro-economic constraints poor countries experience in accessing finance. Despite this, some of the goals are achievable and there is no excuse for missing them, writes Hellen Tombo. Committed leadership, stronger partnerships, extra money, debt cancellation, infrastructure development and deeper participation by the poor can all play a role.
At the beginning of the new millennium (2000), the United Nations set up eight goals that need to be realized by 2015 that became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The leaders and heads of state of 189 countries signed the Millennium Declaration, which set a series of targets for global action against poverty. Meeting the MDGs would not end economic poverty; but meeting them could make a positive difference to millions of people. This month 189 world leaders re-convene in New York to attend the UN Millennium +5 Summit and review progress in implementation of the MDGs. The question that is constantly ringing in our minds is: Have many countries achieved the goals at all?
Reviewing the positive aspects of the MDGs
The MDGs cover the relative dimensions of poverty, not just income poverty. The goals reflect a broad terrain of basic human wellbeing, representing the many dimensions of poverty as part of an integrated whole. The visible signs of poverty can be calculated in terms of access to basic needs such as food, shelter, sanitation, water, health care and education. The goals underscore the fact that tailored interventions in many sectors are essential if human development is to be achieved.
The MDGs are implicitly linked to the human rights framework although such links are not strong enough. The MDGs link directly to the articles of the universal declaration of human rights, which states that everyone has a right to a standard of living adequate for health and the wellbeing, including food, clothing, housing, medical care, and necessary social services. Everyone has a right to education. Furthermore article 28 of the UNHR calls for an international order supportive of implementation of human rights, which is reflected in MDG 8.
The MDGs are global and national. The process through which they were elaborated means that they have an impact both at national level and the global level. There is no other source of authority other than heads of state agreeing through a global forum.
There are concrete output targets for the MDGs: The goals offer clear, agreed and quantifiable targets to galvanize the rich and poor counties and to hold their leaders to account. This means that they can be objectively verified, but still it leaves the question of process wide open.
Poverty reduction is regarded as a direct result of economic growth. This is indicated clearly in MDG 1 where the relationship between poverty and other key social indicators is clearly defined.
Although the MDGs might not be ambitious enough, they are achievable. As goals set by world leaders they represent the shared ambitions that can be achieved if there is political will to do so. There are no physical, ecological, and technical or other autonomous reasons to make achieving the MDGs impossible.
Reviewing the negative aspects of the MDGs
There is a persistent top down approach leading to lack of ownership and participation of local actors. It is believed to be owned by leaders. The solution by leaders is not to tell their subjects about global targets, which are barely relevant to them. Rather the people should be involved in bringing the targets closer to home, to a level where they become tangible and relevant, and can make a difference to their daily lives.
Furthermore, there is a lack of attention to the intangible dimensions of poverty. It is no secret that basic needs extend beyond material goods to include needs to be valued or treated with dignity, or to be free to participate politically, culturally or economically in society. Other important psychological dimensions of poverty are powerlessness, voicelessness, dependency and humiliation. The MDGS do not deal with the intangibles but rather concentrate on the tangible aspects. This severely affects the credibility of the MDGS.
There is over-emphasis on external finance volumes rather than the reform that would lead to greater participation and ownership. Most African countries normally prepare their budgets based on external assistance. Sometimes donors do not respond, which clearly limits the MDGs. The current volatility and unpredictability of aid flows is a serious problem in meeting the MDGs. This is further complicated by the debt burden.
The MDGs distract attention from the macro economic constraints underpinning the ability of developing counties to access finance. The policy advice offered by the IMF and the World Bank seems to undermine the potential of countries in reaching the MDGs. The goals and conditionality set by the World Bank and IMF are really hindering these countries from achieving the MDGs.
Africa has been struggling to meet the MDGs. It remains a daunting task for countries in Africa to achieve the goals. The goals are not new at all because they duplicate the National Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP). If what is contained in the PRSPs cannot be achieved, then it is like squeezing water out of a stone to achieve the MDGs.
This inter-linkage with the PRSPs creates further complications. With the World Bank pushing a PRSP model and the UN the MDGs, the risks of PRSPs being exclusively or primary designed around the MDG goals appear to be very real. This unleashes the development process in countries where it is more than likely that the action on factors creating and sustaining poverty is completely left out of the countries development plan, which in turn may be directed by the MDG plans. This process twists the locus and ownership of national poverty planning, taking it a long distance away from poor people and their concerns.
Overview and Recommendations
Africa saw some success stories during the 1990s but, on balance, the continent’s record in moving towards the MDGs has been inadequate, especially for the poor. Progress is slow for child mortality, basic education, malnutrition, improved water supply, maternal mortality and gender discrimination in primary enrolment. With the exception of safe water, regional progress was less than one-tenth of the agreed target between1990 and 2000. Since the MDGs are to be achieved over a 25-year span starting in 1990, 40 per cent of the road should have been covered by 2000—meaning that Africa’s progress represents about one-fifth of what should have been accomplished by now. Even worse, little or no progress was achieved in reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV prevalence rates continue to rise in numerous countries, whereas only a few succeeded in reducing the spread of the virus. Not only was progress inadequate, much of it by-passed the poor.
Global goals are primarily meant to help improve the situation of the poor and the disadvantaged, not only that of better-off and privileged people. There is no good reason why universal primary education should not yet be a practical reality. Its cost is perfectly affordable; no new technological breakthroughs are needed to get all children in school; there is consensus that it makes good economic sense; and basic education is a fundamental human right that must not be denied to any child. If these conditions are not enough to ensure success, then the question arises as to what it will take to meet the other MDGs.
In opening the Children’s Summit in May 2002, Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, stated, “We the grown-ups must reverse this list of failures”. The MDGs remain unfulfilled, but they also remain feasible and affordable.
If the legacy of our generation is to be more than a series of broken promises, then the following is needed: committed leadership, stronger partnerships, extra money, debt cancellation, infrastructure development and deeper participation by the poor. It is not too late to realize the dream by 2015.
* Hellen Tombo is executive director of the Kenya Youth Education and Community Development Programme. She is a member of GCAP and co-chair of the GCAP youth group.
* Please send comments to [email protected]
The road to the Millennium Development Goals
Rebecca Ajabo Asaba
Just how long are the poor of Africa expected to wait for poverty to be defeated? asks Rebecca Ajabo Asaba. Until 2015? Not likely – according to current projections it will take hundreds of years for Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Ajabo Asaba states that that before it is too late, the entire global economic, financial and trade architecture needs to be restructured.
The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) campaign in Africa by civil society organizations and prominent international activists has affirmed civil society as a major player in bringing the plight of the poor in Africa to the fore of the global development agenda. The initiative has mobilized continent wide popular campaigns led by vigilant umbrella civil society groups in the East, North, West and Southern African sub-regions. Civil society in Africa has made steadfast progress on pressuring global leaders to address the impact of poverty, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other poverty challenges confronting Africa. Global leaders are challenged to meet their pledges on the MDGs and in particular address the debt burden on African countries and expand trade opportunities to improve the lives of millions of Africans.
The battle against poverty must be won. How long should the poor of Africa wait for the opportunity for education or the certainty of food or basic health care? Is the answer 2015, the deadline for achieving the MDGs?
No, according to the UNDP Human Development Report 2003. The report cautions that “unless things improve”, it will take Sub-Saharan Africa until 2129 to achieve universal primary education, until 2147 to halve extreme poverty and until 2165 to cut child mortality by two thirds. Baffled by the region’s worsening food security situation there is no date set to end hunger. The report is optimistic that achieving the MDGs is a possibility for Latin America, East Asia, the Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, but once again Africa has been left out.
Among its major challenges, Africa must overcome HIV/AIDS and Malaria, both responsible for devastating economic and human welfare, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. About 150 million Africans are directly affected by HIVAIDS, an estimated 25 percent of the population of the sub-region shouldering a 90% share of the global impact of HIV/AIDS.
The severity of poverty in this region is also of particular concern given that countries have since the 1980s pursued what International Financial Institutions consider the ‘right’ economic policies of market liberalization, privatization, and macroeconomic stability measures. What these policies have not done ‘right’ is to aleniate the masses from meaningful participation in the economy. The architects of liberalization argue that the costs of liberalization are short term while its benefits come in ‘handy’ in the long-term. This has not been the case for most economies in Africa and thus poses questions on how long-term or short term the poor should pay the costs of liberalization.
Despite some GDP achievements in terms of growth, the region’s Least Developed Countries still do not have the growth levels of seven 7% necessary to achieve the MDGs. Besides this, governments face huge budgetary shortfalls that make it difficult to invest adequately in health, education, and the provision of water services.
Rightly, Africa has been reminded that it needs to find solutions to its internal governance evils that demean its social and economic development, chiefly corruption, undemocratic leadership and human rights abuses. With this in mind, the external solutions are equally important. The whole global economic, financial and trade architecture has a fundamental role in the future of Africa’s poor. Definitely there can only be hope of ending the marginalization of Africa in the global economic system when the global partnership for development increases trade opportunities, aid and cancels debt.
To contain poverty in Africa, one of the things that have to improve is the commitment by world leaders to address the region’s challenges that keep it behind other regions of the world in achieving the MDGs. Africa’s economies, compared to other regions, face stagnation. Therefore the levels of progress in education and health achieved in success stories like Uganda and Ghana, will most likely not be sustainable. This is why Africa’s marginalization from the global economy are so important to the achievement of the MDGs in Africa.
Without doubt Africa’s road to the MDGs is a long one. Now that its leadership and the global partnership have pledged their responsibility in reducing poverty in Africa, the MDGs must be taken to the new political height of commitment, without which the prevailing poverty trends will most probably continue.
* Rebecca Ajabo Asaba is Programme Assistant at the African Women’s Economic Policy Network (AWEPON)
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Appeal to H.E. Festus Mogae, President of the Republic of Botswana
Re: Deportation of Prof. Kenneth Good
"President Mogae, we urge you to reconsider and – if only on moral and humanitarian grounds – to revoke your earlier decision to declare Prof. Good a prohibited immigrant. Let him allow to return to his workplace and home. Allow him to finish his contractual obligations with the University of Botswana until the end of 2006. This would also allow him to reunite with his daughter, who by then will be able to complete her schooling in Gaborone. Show your citizens and the wider world that the notion of good governance is not a foreign word to you and that academic freedom and the freedom of opinion are precious goods protected by your government."
Appeal to H.E. Festus Mogae, President of the Republic of Botswana
Re: Deportation of Prof. Kenneth Good
Your Excellency, President Mogae,
On 18 February 2005 you have exercised the powers vested in you by section 7(f) of the Botswana Immigration Act and declared Prof. Kenneth Good “To be an undesirable inhabitant of or visitor to Botswana”. Prof. Good was the same day served with a ‘Notice of Determination’ declaring him as ‘undesirable person’. He was finally deported after a High Court rejected his urgent application within hours after the judgement end of May 2005.
President Mogae, you declared that your decision was taken “in the interests of the peace, stability and national security of Botswana”. Using your discretionary powers, you declined to offer any further reasons. Prof. Good, a 72-year-old Australian citizen, was at this time for almost 15 years in employment with the University of Botswana. Locally resident since 1990, he raised his daughter Clara, who is about to finish her schooling in a year’s time. While Prof. Good is known to be a Political Scientist advocating critical analyses in favour of the marginalized and poor, he has to my knowledge never committed any crime.
I am therefore proud that The Nordic Africa Institute based in Uppsala/Sweden, at which I am employed as a Research Director, had been able to offer Prof. Good a temporary shelter with a three months affiliation as an extraordinary African guest researcher. I am worried however not only about his personal future, but also about the tarnished image of your country. Hence I dare to undertake this initiative by submitting this appeal to you. I have furthermore taken the liberty circulating it among members of the international scholarly community and invited colleagues to show their solidarity with Ken Good as much as our shared concern about the wider implications of your decision with regard to the deterioration of the political and human rights culture in your country by co-signing this appeal. Those who have responded are listed as co-signatories below.
According to the ruling of the High Court you as President have the discretionary power used in the case of Prof. Good. But you are also free to revoke such a decision at any given time and under what conditions you determine. Section 12 of the Immigration Act provides that the President may cause a prohibited immigrant to cease to be one for such period and subject to such conditions as may be specified.
Prof Good had an employment contract with the University of Botswana until the end of 2006. By this time his daughter, to whom he had been the primary caretaker and who had lived with her father all her life until his deportation, would complete her schooling in Botswana (she has never gone to school elsewhere). Prof. Good’s academic track record and his commitments to teaching and supervising students at his department at the university is beyond any doubt a positive example of professional reliability, honesty and integrity. Prof. Good has served this university department in Gaborone faithfully since 15 years.
His deportation has seriously damaged Botswana’s reputation as a plural democracy, which honours both academic freedom and the freedom of opinion. It furthermore casts doubt on the degree of commitments to safeguarding an individual’s right to be protected from arbitrary action. Prof. Good’s partisan views on several contentious issues in Botswana might be at the displeasure of the authorities and considered as controversial. But he has neither committed any illegal activities nor violated fundamental constitutional principles – as a matter of fact, he simply took the liberty to actively practise some of these rights and principles.
President Mogae, we urge you to reconsider and – if only on moral and humanitarian grounds – to revoke your earlier decision to declare Prof. Good a prohibited immigrant. Let him allow to return to his workplace and home. Allow him to finish his contractual obligations with the University of Botswana until the end of 2006. This would also allow him to reunite with his daughter, who by then will be able to complete her schooling in Gaborone. Show your citizens and the wider world that the notion of good governance is not a foreign word to you and that academic freedom and the freedom of opinion are precious goods protected by your government.
Dr. Henning Melber
The Nordic Africa Institute
Title, Name, Profession, Institute, Place
Please submit your signatory by a simple transmission of the details above and the reference “Good” to [email protected], who administers the list. We would like to submit the appeal soonest and urge you to quickly respond.
Dr. Henning Melber
The Nordic Africa Institute
P.O. Box 1703
SE-751 47 Uppsala / Sweden
(physical address: Kungsgatan 38)
Tel. +46-18-562200/562220 (direct)
Protest over Violence Against Women in The Herald Newsrooms
"The undersigned organizations who are subscribers and readers of The Herald on a daily basis write to protest in the strongest terms violence against women in your newsrooms. As civic society organizations we are gravely worried that civilized spaces like your newsrooms and offices have become unsafe and hostile spaces for women in your employ."
Hurricane Katrina: Lessons for the US
Hurricane Katrina could become a catalyst for global cooperation if only the US would learn from the disaster that it is co-tenant in the world and not a landlord. In the meantime, writes Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, Africans have a duty to show solidarity towards the victims of the natural disaster.
I have never really understood how Hurricanes are named and by whom. The scale of the devastation of New Orleans means that anytime one hears the name Katrina, images of mass suffering will readily come to mind.
Second week into the natural disaster we are nowhere near a common understanding of why the world's richest and allegedly most powerful country appeared prostate before the forces of nature. A bigger part of the controversy is based on a number of questions.
One, how natural was it if it had been long forewarned? Two, could it have been prevented? Three, if it could not be prevented should the communities not have been better prepared to deal with the consequences? Four, what was the level of culpability of local, state and federal officials in making the consequences of the disaster even more tragic either by acts of omission or commission, actions and inactions? But above all is the question of political accountability and responsibility for the consequences of the disaster.
George W. Bush, self-appointed saviour of the world, gung ho macho-militarist and prophet of pre-emptive action in far-flung places around the world either did not see the Hurricane under his nose or did not have any missiles to throw at it.
He has rightly been criticised for his reluctance (yet again) to get out of his holiday bed. But this slow reaction has become typical of Dubya. The man has been such an executive truant that he simply could never be found where he is supposed to be. Even when 9/11 (that he hijacked as his life's purpose and regime-defining issue) happened Bush was missing and remained in hiding for several days.
The rest of the world has continued to watch with both horror at the devastation and subdued bemusement and incredulity at the ill-preparedness of the Americans in the face of this tragedy. If it was in some third world country (especially Africa) there would be loud cries (no more louder than those from Washington) about irresponsible leadership.
There are three immediate lessons that I see. The first lesson is a very simple one. Every one of us, in emergencies, need help, rich or poor, big or small. Who would have thought that less than a year after the tragedy of the Tsunami that devastated several countries mainly in South East Asia and parts of East Africa, some of these countries including Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia would be coming forward to offer help to the USA!
The second one is that natural disasters do happen and can happen to any country. It only proves that we inhabit the same world even if some countries may deceive themselves that they are God's Landlords on earth. There is no territorial sovereignty over natural disasters.
The third lesson has to do with being humble and never saying never. As in a popular soap, the rich also cry and the poor also laugh. Last September, a Category 5 hurricane devastated Cuba with 160-mile-per-hour winds. Cuba evacuated 1.5 million of its citizens before the storm. Consequently even though many homes were destroyed not a single Cuban died! The USA does not have all the answers to both its problems and global challenges. It can and must learn from others whose system it may like, whose leaders it detests but who have better knowledge and experience than the US in managing emergencies.
The other aspect of the disaster has to do with what it teaches us about America and the American way of life, its self-image, the projection of global military power and the reality inside the country.
The controversies are still raging as to whether racism or class are the main reasons why Bush and the US establishment have responded so shoddily. Personally I do not think it is a case of either or and I do not believe that one reason alone can explain the situation. It has to be a combination of reasons at the heart of which both class and race are fundamental factors.
America does not care about its poor people. This is not unique to the US ruling class since so many rulers do not care about their poorest, as most Africans will attest. However America as the richest country on earth is expected to look after its own. If it cannot why should anybody in the world accept its claims to wanting to solve other people's problems for them?
The truth is that the American dream has always been a self rationalization ideology for the rich. It has always been a harvest of huge nightmare for the poor and underclass in the system. Structurally and historically a disproportionate majority of these groups are of African-American origin therefore they bear greater part of the suffering. I am sure middle class African-Americans, with their 4-by-4’s, wider social networks beyond New Orleans and credit cards got out of harm's way as quickly as their white counter parts, but the bulk of their poor cousins had nowhere to go and perished in their thousands. Even those who could go elsewhere could not do so in good time because poverty had already condemned them to inadequate and vulnerable housing that Katrina gulped up at its first deadly kiss.
As a predominantly black place the majority of the victims would be black. Therefore race cannot be far from the surface. Indeed so black is the face of suffering globally that many people, including many Africans, initially thought the pictures were from yet another blighted African country. The shock was that these are pictures from America. Africans are known for their generosity, solidarity and kindness in the face of extremes of adversity but somehow we have not responded predictably to the tragedy in New Orleans despite the obvious connection. Are we so numbed by it that we are also shocked into delayed reaction or have become inured by familiar suffering that we cannot be bothered any more?
This is not just about African government’s responding. It is about African leaders in the diaspora too. It is not about Africans in Africa alone. It is about global Africa, at home and abroad. Where are we at this hour of need for our peoples stranded in New Orleans? We have to show that we as Africans have a duty to care and take the obligation seriously. That solidarity comes in different forms. America needs the rest of the world even if it was initially reluctant to ask for it. It has no missile shield defence system against natural disasters.
One good that may come out of this could be a grudging restoration of American faith in global institutions like the UN whose humanitarian agencies (in spite of general criticisms) are better equipped to deal with these type of emergencies. If the US learns from this disaster that it is a co-tenant, not the landlord of the world, then this tragedy could become a catalyst for global cooperation that may make the suffering of the people of New Orleans not to have been in vain.
* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa. ([email protected] or [email protected])
* Please send comments to [email protected]
US response to Hurricane Katrina: From rogue state to failed state
Troops began combat operations to take the city back. Snipers fired on rescue helicopters. Refugee camps housed thousands of homeless. This was the scene in New Orleans over the last week in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which killed hundreds, left thousands homeless and destroyed New Orleans as it ripped through the Gulf region. As with any disaster, focus turned quickly to the rescue efforts, and it wasn’t long before the Bush Administration came under fire for a lacklustre response to the rescue effort.
Critics were quick to point out that the Bush Administration’s slow response to the disaster was a clear indication of their racial bias, given that New Orleans was a majority Afro-American city. Not only that, but the media quickly seized on images of looters, mainly black, without providing the context that people were without food and had to feed themselves. The events that transpired in New Orleans somehow removed a veneer and exposed a hidden side of American race relations – and it wasn’t pretty.
Writing for Znet, Justin Podur, in questioning the naming of Katrina victims as refugees in their own country, (http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=72&ItemID=8680) explained the response by describing a “cruel nationalism” that had emerged amongst elites after 9/11, whose first impulse was to “blame foreigners, and then to strike out at them, expel them, and bomb them”.
But unlike in Afghanistan or Iraq, there were no outside forces to blame for Katrina and so the poor and predominantly black population who desperately needed assistance came into the firing line. “The government’s response to Katrina was a different kind of racism: not hatred of foreigners, but contempt and utter disregard for Black people’s lives, and for the extraordinary city they had made,” wrote Podur.
He went on to write: “It seems that the American government is treating Black Americans on the Gulf Coast with the contempt that it normally reserves for the citizens of other countries. After decades of struggle and sacrifice for the right to be full American citizens, Black people are being treated like the rest of the world is treated - as problems to be solved as cheaply as possible, not fellow citizens and human beings with dignity.”
The disaster has exposed the myth of America as the land of wealth and equality. Calling America a “failed state”, Dan La Botz, in an article for the online magazine Counterpunch (http://www.counterpunch.org/labotz09032005.html), wrote: “Every American city harbors millions of people with high rates of unemployment, low incomes, poor housing, no health insurance, low levels of education. In the United States 25 percent of our children are raised in poverty. Nearly 50 million people have no health insurance.” If this was the picture of a neo-liberal success story, where did that leave the rest of the world on the path to trickle down nirvana? Katrina focused attention on the seedier side of American society often obscured by the corporate media.
The implications went further than exposing the apartheid nature of American society, however. One of the reasons advanced for the sluggish response to the disaster was the Bush administration's focus on the ‘war on terror’ and its aggressive promotion of corporate globalization. Not only had this undermined rescue efforts because emergency personal were depleted, but it had also eaten into the soul of American society. La Botz wrote: “The United States, the failed state, is so because it was first a rogue state. The United States failed to sign the Kyoto Treaty, the International Court of Justice treaty, or the land mines treaty. The United States violated international law with its wars in Iraq and Iran, and with its unsuccessful coup d,état in Venezuela. What has happened over time has been that the general distortion of ethics and values in foreign policy has also seeped into domestic policy.”
Compiled by Pambazuka News. For more analysis on Katrina and the latest news from New Orleans, visit the following websites:
Hurricane Katrina: Tides Rapid Response
Tides Rapid Response Fund works to help fill the funding gaps where community groups or underserved populations may be overlooked. The Rapid Response Fund pools donors' resources to increase the impact of their giving and our staff researches and distributes the funds as quickly and strategically as possible. As always, Tides staff will work closely with groups to identify how money can best be distributed, looking for effective grassroots and advocacy organizations working for short-term relief and long-term structural change.
You can make an instant online donation to Tides Rapid Response Fund for Hurricane Katrina Relief and Rebuilding. Just click the DonateNow button at the Tides Foundation website.
Katrina Aid: Support Community-based Relief & Reconstruction for Mississippi Delta Farmers & Fishworkers
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund (FSC), a member of Grassroots International’s ally the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), has set up an Emergency Relief Fund for relief and long-term reconstruction to help Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama farmers rebuild facilities and markets and help with direct emergency assistance for housing, food and water. GRI will be making a solidarity grant to support this effort. To find out how to donate, visit http://gol.c.topica.com/maadWScabj4wDa8ZUPccaeQzgF/
Africa Development: New Issue Published
This issue includes:
* The Alternative Genealogy of Civil Society and Its Implications for Africa:
Notes for Further Research by Ebenezer Obadare,
* The Role of NGOs in Fostering Development and Good Governance at the Local Level in Africa with a Focus on Kenya by Walter O Oyugi,
* The Politics of Marginal Forms: Popular Music, Cultural Identity and Political Opposition in Kenya by Peter Wafula Wekesa,
Visit Africa Development at http://www.ajol.info/
HIV/AIDS, Human Rights and Law
Network for Justice for Justice and Democracy
The Network for Justice for Justice and Democracy, a Nigeria- based NGO dedicated to promoting and defending reproductive rights, the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and gender equlaity is pleased to announce its publication titled "HIV/AIDS, Human Rights and Law".
HIV/AIDS, Human Rights and Law
The Network for Justice for Justice and Democracy, a Nigeria- based NGO
dedicated to promoting and defending reproductive rights, the rights of
people living with HIV/AIDS and gender equlaity is pleased to announce
its publication titled "HIV/AIDS, Human Rights and Law.
The book is a treatise of 10 chapters of 217 pages containing basic
facts on HIV/AIDS, impact of the disease, prevention, treatment, care and
control of HIV/AIDS, strategies to combat the HIVAIDS pandemic,
vulnerablity of girls, women and youths to HIV/AIDS, Gender and HIV, HIV/AIDS
and Human Rights, Case laws and legislations on HIV/AIDS world wide
The book will serve as a valuable reference text to healthcare
providers, NGOs, legal practitioners and those interested in researches and
advocacy in the area of HIV/AIDS and human rights
Interested buyers, agents, publishers, donor agencies, Human Rights
agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS should
direct their enquiries to:
NETWORK FOR JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY
Attention: Olaide Gbadamosi Esq
No. 42 Mission Road,
Tel. Nos. 234-251082; 234-80-3717817; 234-80-56415512
Languages of Instruction for African Emancipation
Edited by Brock-Utne, Birgit and Hopson, Rodney Kofi
With rhetoric in the twenty-first century focused on the African Renaissance, the central role of language in the development and emancipation of the continent seems to have taken a backseat. The fact that many countries on the continent are operating with pre-independent and colonial language policies is catastrophic to large numbers of people who are not in a position to participate in the political democracies of their countries. This collection of case studies from seven African countries poses questions such as: What alternatives are there for educational language policies towards African emancipation?
The Vitality of Karamojong Religion
by Ben Knighton
How long can a traditional religion survive the impact of world religions, state hegemony, and globalization? The ‘Karamoja problem’ is one that has perplexed colonial and independent governments alike. Now Karamojong notoriety for armed cattle raiding has attracted the attention of the UN and USAID since the proliferation of small arms in the pastoralist belt across Africa from Sudan to stateless Somalia is deemed a threat to world security. The consequences are ethnocidal, but what makes African peoples stand out against state and global governance?
Capitalism as genocide
Despelchin's article is an excellent analysis on the correlation between capitalism and genocide - not just genocides that happened on "individual" scales such as the holocaust and Rwandan genocide, but the systematic genocide that is an ongoing dehumanization of the planet.
“There is a tendency, even among the most critical voices not to see the connections between what could be described as the inaugural homelessness of the Amerindians and the African’s Hitler’s lebensraum, today's homelessness in the richest countries of the Planet and the same phenomenon in the streets of Fallujah, Palestine and South Africa".
This statement reminded me of a comment on my blog Black Looks, in response to the now famous speech by Mrs. Anthony Fatayi Williams whose son had been murdered by the London bombers of 7th July. A few days later my son's uncle was murdered having been shot 4 times by armed robbers in front of his two very young children and his wife in Abuja, Nigeria. Most of the comments I received condemned Islam and Muslims rather than the individuals who actually committed the act, the usual Islamophobic diatribe. My son came in on the discussion and attempted quite eloquently to make a connection between the London bombers and the robbers who had killed his uncle and the system that underpinned these kind of acts whether in London, Fallujah or Lagos.
Unfortunately, everyone missed the point in their blind dash to only see the superficial which feeds their prejudices and naivety. The AIDS pandemic that is killing millions of Africans today is one example of the genocidal nature of capitalism. The refusal to allow cheap generic drugs over expensive brand name drugs, lack of access to medical care, poorly equipped hospitals and clinics, poverty and unfit housing are all part of the system that feeds off and destroys humanity. Another more recent example is the racial drama played out in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where we were presented with the most disgraceful treatment of poor African Americans reminding us that the mind of white America is still cast in that of the slave master, albeit recast and modernized.
Thank you for this excellent piece of writing.
Indigenous as relevant
Angela Khaminwa's article 'On the Margins: Indigenous as relevant' is very interesting indeed. Our organisation, Health Unlimited, has extensive programmes working with indigenous peoples in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the question on the relevance of the term indigenous in Africa is one that is being debated internally in the organisation next week. I intend to use her article as a reference, but would be interested in following up on some of the issues.
Keeping the spirit of Africa alive
Jean Jacques Ngandu
Since refugee week last June I have started visiting your website and I must congratulate you for the wonderfull job you are doing in informing millions of people around the continent. Keep up the good work and the spirit of Africa alive.
Participating in Pambazuka
Myra Sidika Karani
I am a gender activist and your e-newsletter is good in terms of addressing issues affecting women and the girl child.I would like to be receiving the newsletter and also be among the contributors especially when it comes to issues affecting young women. I look forward to participating in this space.
Myra Sidika Karani, Kenya
PZ Replies: Thanks for your email. Contributions are welcome and can be set to [email protected]
Poverty an injustice
I fervently believe that the massive poverty existing in Africa, and the world, is an injustice; that it will take deliberate and conscious concerted efforts to establish and reap the goals of social justice.
Alieu Darboe, The Gambia
Africa Blog Roundup
The African blogging scene is as diverse in its content as it is in its representations of culture and politics. One of the great things about blogs and blogging is that anyone of us can become a writer, poet, political or sports commentator, book or film reviewer or just write and publish our daily lives online.
Mshairi is a Kenyan blogger who has taken up the mantle of poetry and journal writing on her blog. I visit Mshairi regularly as it is a haven of tranquillity to read her poems and posts and I would like to invite Pambazuka readers to join me there.
A year ago today this blog was begun. Out came the pad and the purple (ink) pen. In total I have posted more than 50 poems. Of the poems, I have a growing group of anonymous people who trust me enough to send me theirs. 150 posts on life and love and on women, on Africa and on people. In between are the posts on music, books, Star Trek, science fiction...Inspired by people already in my life and those I met through blogging, I have written about the little things that make sense and big things that did not.
On a heavier note I thought I would do a short roundup of what African bloggers are saying about Hurricane Katrina.
Mental acrobatics points out that Halliburton of Dick Cheney fame (remember them?) have been given the first of many contracts for rebuilding after Katrina.
The Sand Monkey gives us an excellent web roundup of Katrina and the fallout….
And for what has to be an act of extreme stupidity, Kanye West blasts Bush in the Middle of a live-televised Benefit for the Red Cross, claiming that he doesn’t care about black people and that the government is delaying the aid because the victims are black, which cause the Phone lines to be filled with complaints instead of donations. But then again, what do you expect from the son of a former Black Panther who believes the CIA gives people AIDS?
Too bad that I like his music.
Meskel Square blogging from Ethiopia reminds us...
Just in case anyone needs one after New Orleans, here is another reminder that nature can be a very scary thing…..At least thirteen people were killed after being hit by hail stones and washed away by floods in Alaba Special Woreda in SNNPR on Saturday, August 27.
Soul South asks the question What is racism?
One of my favourite blogs, Language Log, points to some racism in Louisiana by means of an animated image. This is, after all, Language Log, so it begins with a comparison of the two words Finding and Looting. Watch, read and decide whether its racism or not. Click on the "juxtaposition of photos and captions" link. People have responded to this and Language Log duly posts their reactions. My reaction? That's Racism!
Africa/Global: Progress of the world's women 2005: women, work & poverty
This report marks the fifth anniversary of the UN Millennium Declaration and the tenth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. It argues that unless governments and policymakers pay more attention to employment, and its links to poverty, the campaign to make poverty history will not succeed, and the hope for gender equality will founder on the reality of women’s growing economic insecurity. The report makes the case for an increased focus on women’s informal employment as a key pathway to reducing poverty and strengthening women’s economic security. It provides data on the size and composition of the informal economy and compares national data on average earnings and poverty risk across different segments of the informal and formal workforces in six developing countries and one developed country to show the links between employment, gender and poverty. It looks at the costs and benefits of informal work and their consequences for women's economic security.
Africa/Global: Women, violence and health
This report discusses violence against women and girls as a major human rights scandal and a public health crisis. The authors contend that globally women are regularly beaten and sexually abused by intimate partners, family members, neighbours, and by people not known to them. They also suffer gender-based violence during and after conflicts and wars. The impact on women's health goes far beyond bruises, broken bones or even death. As well as causing physical suffering to women, such violence has a profound impact on women's psychological well-being, on their sexual and reproductive health and on the well-being and security of their families and communities. The cost in human terms is huge and also has an economic dimension.
Africa: Women’s Rights Crucial for UN Summit Agend(er)
Three international rights organisations have joined forces to ensure that women’s voices will be heard at the United Nations 2005 World Summit, scheduled to take place later this month (Sep. 14 to 16). The 'Gender Monitoring Group of the World Summit' is the brainchild of the Centre for Women's Global Leadership, located in the American state of New Jersey, the Fiji-based Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era - and the Women's Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO), which is headquartered in New York.
Swaziland: The role of women stirs debate at the reed dance
Throngs of young Swazi women and girls gathered on Sunday to deliver bundles of reeds cut a week earlier and transported on foot to the Queen Mother's residence in Eludzidzini. In recent years Swaziland's annual reed dance ceremony has become a focal point for criticism of King Mswati III's handling of his country's HIV crisis and the rights of his female subjects. The dance is often framed in the international media as serving little purpose other than a showcase of virgins, from which sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch can select yet another new bride.
Uganda: Uneven progress on gender equality
Uganda has been widely praised for having a constitution that reflects gender concerns. The 10-year-old document commits the country to affirmative action in the workplace, freedom from sexual discrimination and economic rights for women. It also allows for a commission to monitor whether government programmes discriminate on the basis of sex. In addition, Uganda has pledged to implement the United Nations' eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include the promotion of gender equality by 2015. Nonetheless, progress towards real women's empowerment has been somewhat erratic in the East African country.
Africa: Elite countries hold world hostage on human rights
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International have called on a small number of “spoiler” countries to stop holding the UN World Summit hostage over crucial measures on human rights, security, genocide and poverty reduction. These governments have thrown negotiations on the final outcome text into crisis just days away from the biggest meeting of world leaders in history, September 14-16 in New York.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
AI Index: IOR 41/057/2005
5 September 2005
Joint Statement by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam International and Global Call to Action Against Poverty
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International call on a small number of “spoiler” countries to stop holding the UN World Summit hostage over crucial measures on human rights, security, genocide and poverty reduction. These governments have thrown negotiations on the final outcome text into crisis just days away from the biggest meeting of world leaders in history, September 14-16 in New York.
The three organizations, alongside the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, the world’s largest anti-poverty movement, said that the actions of a small number of countries threaten to sabotage the summit. The objections of some of these states appear intended to block adoption of a meaningful agreement, rather than to strengthen the current draft or address legitimate concerns. The leading “spoilers” vary on different issues, but together their activities are seriously weakening draft agreements on the Human Rights Council, poverty-reduction and preventing genocide despite support from the majority of governments for these measures.
Oxfam is very concerned that a small number of countries are determined to block an historic draft measure on governments’ “responsibility to protect civilians” that could stop future genocides such as Rwanda from ever occurring. Countries trying to block this include India, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Russia. The United States is also trying to weaken the measure, and is now proposing to cut "the obligation" to protect and replacing it with "the moral responsibility".
“African governments pressing for agreement on the measure to prevent genocide are urging the world to act,” said Nicola Reindorp, head of Oxfam’s New York Office, ”Yet a few spoiler governments look set to dash hopes for agreement on this life-saving move.”
The proposal to create a new Human Rights Council with more authority and that can sit throughout the year, review human rights in all countries and address all human rights situations is intended to be a key achievement of the World Summit. It has won the endorsement of an overwhelming majority of states from all regions of the world. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch expressed grave concern, however, that some 15 countries, led by Cuba and including Venezuela, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Belarus, Vietnam, and Syria, were blocking any movement on this important reform.
“The possibility that a small number of states with deeply troubling human rights records could block the creation of a more effective human rights body is not only ironic, it is disgraceful,” said Peggy Hicks, Human Rights Watch’s Global Advocacy Director.
“Millions of men, women and children are looking to this Summit for something better than a forum for horse-trading on human rights,” said Yvonne Terlingen, Amnesty International’s Representative at the UN, “Only strong and ambitious reform can overcome the power politics, double standards and selectivity that have tarnished the image of the current Commission on Human Rights. World leaders must be visionary and bold if they are not to squander this unique opportunity.”
The United States has also proposed cutting wording on poverty reduction, including on overseas development aid, education and debt relief, and removing the term “Millennium Development Goals” -- the internationally agreed upon targets for halving world poverty. In addition, the United States wants to cut references to small arms controls from the outcome document.
“We are in real danger of seeing commitments made by all governments five years ago on poverty reduction being eroded at the UN World Summit,” said Kumi Naidoo, chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty. “We cannot allow developing countries to be bullied into agreeing to an outcome that will fail the majority of the world’s people.”
Chad/Cameroon: Rights fear over giant oil scheme
Oil firms and African states have been accused of "contracting out" of their human rights obligations in Africa's biggest investment project. The Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline contract may impair the countries' ability to protect farmers, fishermen and others affected, Amnesty International says.
DRC: Authorities Must Prosecute the Murderers of Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi
The Congolese government's Commission of Enquiry into the murder of a prominent human rights activist has failed to bring justice, Human Rights Watch has said. The mandate of the Commission ended on September 6 without a report on its findings nor proposed actions to bring the perpetrators to justice. The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) set up the Commission of Enquiry following the assassination of Kabungulu Kibembi, executive secretary of Héritiers de la Justice (Heirs of Justice), a leading human rights organization in the eastern part of the country.
Authorities Must Prosecute the Murderers of Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi
(London, September 8, 2005) -- The Congolese government’s Commission of Enquiry into the murder of a prominent human rights activist has failed to bring justice, Human Rights Watch said today. The mandate of the Commission ended on September 6 without a report on its findings nor proposed actions to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) set up the Commission of Enquiry following the assassination of Kabungulu Kibembi, executive secretary of Héritiers de la Justice (Heirs of Justice), a leading human rights organization in the eastern part of the country. Kabungulu was shot dead at his home in Bukavu, South Kivu province, by three armed men on July 31, 2005. A courageous human rights activist known for his work in exposing atrocities, Kabungulu’s death sent shock waves through the Congolese human rights community.
“The Commission of Enquiry was set up with a lot of fanfare but to date there have been no concrete results,” said Juliane Kippenberg, NGO Liaison for the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. “The Congolese government has a duty to ensure that the perpetrators of this hideous crime are brought to justice. Unless urgent action is taken, the commission risks being little more than a P.R. exercise.”
The Commission of Enquiry into the death of Kabungulu was established on August 6. Chaired by the military prosecutor of South Kivu – who also continues with his own judicial investigation – the commission is composed of military, security and civilian officials. Local observers have questioned the commission’s impartiality and criticized its lack of resources. The military prosecutor’s office has arrested and interrogated several suspects, though no one has been charged to date.
Human Rights Watch and several other international non-governmental organizations today appealed in five open letters to the Congolese government, the United Nations, the African Union and the British government to take urgent measures for the protection of human rights defenders in the DRC. They also called on the government to ensure that the commission operates in an “independent, impartial and competent” manner and that it and the judicial authorities receive the necessary resources to complete their investigations.
“The assassination of Pascal Kabungulu is just one of many attacks on human rights activists in the DRC,” said Kippenberg. “Unless the commission helps to bring justice for this terrible crime, human rights defenders will continue to live in fear.”
Human Rights Watch Press release
Namibia: Homophobia condemned
Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) statement
"As the principal human rights monitoring and advocacy body in the country, Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has condemned the homophobic incitements and utterances by Deputy Home Affairs and Immigration Minister Theopolina Mushelenga over the weekend. Addressing a public Heroes’ Day commemoration rally at Omaalala village, some 700 kilometers northwest of Windhoek on Saturday, Ms. Mushelenga reportedly accused sexual minorities of having been responsible for, inter alia, the country’s HIV/AIDS pandemic."
September 5 2005
MORE HOMOPHOBIA IS CONDMNED
As the principal human rights monitoring and advocacy in the country, Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) condemns the homophobic incitements and utterances by Deputy Home Affairs and Immigration Minister Theopolina Mushelenga over the weekend. Addressing a public Heroes’ Day commemoration rally at Omaalala village, some 700 kilometers northwest of Windhoek on Saturday, Ms. Mushelenga reportedly accused sexual minorities of having been responsible for, inter alia, the country’s HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Claiming that she fully agrees with former Namibian President Sam Nujoma’s homophobic utterances in the past, Ms. Mushelenga also accused lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of betraying the country’s struggle for freedom. She warned the youth not to allow what she called “prophets of same sex love” to mislead them, local media reports said.
Articles 8 and 10 of the Namibian Constitution (NC) guarantee the right of everyone to dignity, equality before law and non-discrimination. Furthermore, the UN Human Rights Committee interprets the human rights principles enumerated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to include the protection of the right of sexual minorities to equality before the law and non-discrimination as well as to liberty and security of the person.
In its just released annual Namibia Human Rights Report 2005 (seewww.nshr.org.na), NSHR noted that LGBT people continue to experience widespread discrimination, homophobia and related intolerance. Sexual minorities also continue to be prejudiced, excluded, stigmatized, assaulted, raped and even brutally murdered.
According to The Rainbow Project, the country’s LGBT organization, some 3 000 cases of violence directed against LGBT were recorded during the period under reporting by NSHR. Some 75 percent of LGBT people preferred to suffer in silence in order to hide their identity and save themselves from hate speech and crime.
While Article 21(1)(a) of the NC guarantees the right of to freedom of speech, opinion and expression, Article 21(2) expressly imposes reasonable restriction of exercise of such right.
“Hence, by accusing LGBT people of being the cause of the country’s deadly HIV-AIDS pandemic Deputy Minister Mushelenga went entirely overboard. Singling out these people for such dangerous incitement and holding them responsible for the country’s number one killer disease is not only manifestly false but also constitutes an intentional and reckless effort to expose sexual minorities to even more hate crimes. Aggrieved LGBT people have the right to challenge Ms. Mushelenga personally in a civil court of law for punitive damages for her reckless endangerment”, advised NSHR executive director Phil ya Nangoloh.
NSHR calls upon President Lucas Hifikepunye Pohamba (LHP) to distance himself and his Administration from Deputy Minister Mushelenga’s hate expressions.
“Such unlawful and unconstitutional utterances, which came at the time of widespread media revelations of financial scams and other forms of corruption and mismanagement by high-ranking Government officials, only help to tarnish even further the otherwise positive image of the new Administration of President LHP” said NSHR spokesperson Dorkas Phillemon.
For further comment, please call Phil ya Nangoloh or Dorkas Phillemon at Tel: +264 61 236 183 or +264 61 253 447 (office hours) or Mobile: +264 811 299 886 (Phil) or e-mail: [email protected] or web: www.nshr.org.na
South Africa: Children’s right to health: Do they get what was promised?
Maylene Shung King
Children have been given significant political recognition in our democratic dispensation. The South African government has signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the child, promising to put children first and take concerted steps towards realizing their civil, political and socio-economic rights. In terms of a child’s right to health, Article 24 of the Convention obliges us to accord children the right to the “highest attainable standard of health”. In addition, we need to ensure the fulfillment of a number of other indivisible rights that directly impact on their health such as their right to a safe and clean environment and their right to food and shelter.
SOURCE: Critical Health Perspectives
Children have been given significant political recognition in our democratic dispensation. The South African government has signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the child, promising to put children first and take concerted steps towards realizing their civil, political and socio-economic rights. In terms of a child’s right to health, Article 24 of the Convention obliges us to accord children the right to the “highest attainable standard of health”. In addition, we need to ensure the fulfillment of a number of other indivisible rights that directly impact on their health such as their right to a safe and clean environment and their right to food and shelter.
Children’s rights to health were further entrenched in the Constitution which grants them a Right to basic health care services, the Right of access to health services and the Right to emergency services in Sections 27 and 28 of the Bill of rights.
Interventions to improve children’s health were prioritized in the Reconstruction and Development Programme, introducing free health care for children under 6 and pregnant mothers and a primary school nutrition programme. Free health care has since been extended to include all children at public sector primary care facilities and those with moderate and severe disabilities at secondary and tertiary health facilities.
A number of structural, policy and programmatic strategies were also put in place. South Africa has a National Programme of Action for children (that includes child health) co-ordinated through the Office on the Rights of the Child in the president’s office. Dedicated Maternal child and woman’s health directorates were formed at a national and provincial level, along with several parallel programmes that address child health issues. Efforts to improve the delivery of services to children include the IMCI programme, PMTCT, a policy on school health services, Youth and Adolescent health, mental health and others.
Government also aligned itself with international processes and goals for children. The most recent was the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals that require us to reduce infant and child mortality by two thirds before 2015 and reduce infant and child malnutrition by half.
Despite these commitments, policies and interventions, child health indices have systematically worsened over the past few years.
What is the current health status of children in South Africa?
The short answer is that we do not know for sure. Current national level information on children’s health is outdated and is not very accurate where it does exist. The 2004 StatsSa report on mortality recognizes their deficiency of good data on children. Closer examination of the data reveals that their report underestimates child deaths by at least 30-40%. The most accurate data we have is still the 7 years out of date 1998 Demographic and Health survey data updated for 2000 by the MRC Burden of Disease unit. This means that the most basic indicators of child health status, namely mortality indicators, are simply not available on an ongoing basis and where they do exist, are inaccurate.
Little national and provincial level information is available on child morbidity. Child-specific information on the status and impact of epidemics such as HIV on children is simply not available. Even less is available on children’s utilization of health services, with the exception of some data on immunization coverage. Coverage of crucial programmes such as PMTCT is simply not known. Little is known about the quality of care that children receive through health services. Where information does exist, it shows that significant inequities exist across geographic boundaries in terms of children’s access to basic health services. The 1998 South African Demographic and Health survey showed almost a 30% difference in immunization coverage between the province with the best coverage and the province with the poorest coverage.
Internationally trends are afoot to move away from just measuring indicators of child survival to also focus on issues of child well-being and positive health indicators, and herein lies the rub...
With such poor information, what do we know about children and their health?
Children constitute almost half of the South African population. Given the direct relationship between health and poverty it is important to note that, depending on the definition of poverty, up to seven out of ten children in South Africa live in poverty. The health statistics bear testimony to this.
We are regressing in terms of child survival. In 1998 our infant and under-5 mortality rates were 45 and 59 respectively. The MRC burden of disease study of 2000 shows a significant increase in infant and under-5 mortality rates to 59 and 95 respectively. These worsening survival trends are of great concern and make the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the infant mortality rate to 17 by 2015 appear unattainable.
Children still die largely from preventable causes directly linked to poverty and poor health service provision. Most deaths in the first year of life relate to neonatal causes, many of which are preventable by good antenatal, obstetric and postnatal services. Despite free health care to pregnant women and children, universal access to good quality antenatal services has not yet been attained. The primary causes of deaths in children under 5 are now HIV-related, but close on its heels is diarrhoeal disease and acute respiratory infections, with malnutrition a very important but often unrecognised underlying cause.
A “silent” epidemic in older children is that of trauma and violence, the leading causes of death in children aged 5-18. Firearm injuries are increasing and so are motor vehicle accidents involving children. Again, this requires active intervention by the Departments of Safety and security and transport in their policies, programmes and plans.
We know little of morbidity patterns in children, except that the age-old companions of malnutrition, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections are still the major conditions affecting children. We know that roughly one in every four children suffer with malnutrition and at least a fifth of all TB cases are children. These are now compounded by the HIV epidemic that has about a quarter of a million children living with HIV-infection and many more affected by the consequences of the epidemic. On the positive side, important childhood infections such as measles, polio and tetanus are virtually eradicated with very few cases on an annual basis. Little is known about chronic diseases in children and even less about their mental health.
Why is the health of our children so poor, in spite of all the efforts to address this?
One of the overriding factors is that the health sector is seen as the primary custodian of children’s health, when in fact the majority of the factors that impact on child health lies beyond the domain of the formal health sector.
There is little or no child-specific focus or prioritization when central budgets, and non-health sector plans are developed, quite contrary to the spirit and letter of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Constitution that urges us to “put children first” and “in every matter concerning the child to consider the best interest of the child”. Despite the strong link between illness and lack of basic amenities such as water and sanitation, none of the local government integrated development plans, nor those of the Departments of water affairs, housing and transport, take indicators of child health into account when planning the distribution of resources and services. Yet the tools required to factor child health indicators into local government resource allocation exist and have been tested by the Equity Gauge project at the University of Western Cape, School of Public Health.
Even within the health sector children are not duly prioritised in all matters concerning the health system. For example, there is no piece of legislation that comprehensively addresses legal child health issues. The new Health Act has a sentence or two about children and the drafters chose to defer child health issues in anticipation that these would be addressed in the upcoming Children’s Bill. Given current progress with the Bill, it is not likely to be the case.
There is no clear strategic plan for child health at a national level that ensures the integration and coordination of child health issues throughout the health system. Policies and programmes are developed in piecemeal fashion with each component of child health services competing for attention with many others. Systemic health policies and plans often do not consider children’s issues in a systematic and child-orientated fashion. The government plan released in 2003 for the comprehensive care and treatment of HIV/AIDS is a case in point where many gaps in the conceptualization of comprehensive care for children infected with HIV exist.
In the quest for comprehensive primary health care, the very fundamentals of the Primary Health Care approach as it pertains to children have been undermined. A mass of anecdotal evidence suggests that crucial prevention and health promotion interventions for children are neglected in lieu of curative and adult health activities. Important programmes for children such as developmental screening, nutrition programmes, EPI and the PMTCT are not adequately implemented. Only one province in the country has a programme for developmental screening of children. Research in the Mount Frere area reveals a serious lack of knowledge among frontline health workers concerning the management of malnourished children in hospital. A rapid situational analysis of clinics in 2002 that looked at key interventions for children with HIV, gave a picture that is probably true for many other child health interventions. The study showed that only 35% of clinics reported administering Vitamin A, only 20% of clinics knew what the correct protocols were for prophylactic and support programmes for children with HIV, and only 4% of clinic respondents knew the correct dosage for Cotrimoxazole. This points to a potentially huge knowledge gap around child health issues at primary level, as well as an inability to deliver the most basic child health interventions.
Tracking resource allocation through expenditures and budgets for child health services is impossible, as child health interventions are not reflected as line items in the national and provincial financial systems. The budgetary commitment to facilitate the realization of children’s right to health is thus unclear.
Much work still needs to be done to improve the health of South African children.
As a start, a clear integrated child health strategy within the Department of Health is required as a matter of urgency. Coupled with this, a clear integrated intersectoral plan to address better outcomes for children must be developed. In addition, mechanisms to ensure and track adequate budgetary commitments to children’s health service and interventions must be put in place.
At the implementation level serious consideration must be given to the current status of preventive health interventions for children. In addition, the staffing, both numbers and skills, to ensure delivery of timely effective and good quality child health services is essential.
Among those working in the Children’s Policy Institute, passion for children’s issues runs high, but elsewhere, despite the rhetoric, we have found no consistent advocacy voice for child health. Civil society, except around HIV, has been silent on issues of child health and the current draft patient health charter does not even mention the word “child”.
Given the many issues that need to be addressed, it has become clear that a concerted effort is needed by colleagues within all sectors of government and civil society to ensure child health achieves much greater recognition, and that the rhetorical promises and rights translate into real health gain for our children.
* Critical Health Perspectives is a publication of the Peoples Health Movement-South Africa (PHM-SA). However, the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the view of all those who have identified with PHM-SA. For further information see: http:///www.phmovement.org
Southern/East Africa: Human rights and land
This article from Studies in Women's Law No. 57, produced by the Institute of Women's Law at the University of Oslo argues that land is a vital resource for rural livelihoods. “Establishing and clarifying land rights through formalisation has become a key issue in development policies that aim to promote more productive uses of land,” it says. The report looks at some land reform initiatives from a gendered human rights perspective.
Sudan: Arbitrary detentions remain widespread
Arbitrary arrests and detentions remain widespread in Sudan despite President Omar al-Bashir's promise to release all political prisoners and lift the nationwide state of emergency, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday. "The government promised [on 30 June] that the north-south peace accord would usher in a new day in Sudan, but we have yet to see it in the field of human rights," Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at the international advocacy organisation, said in a statement.
Benin: Addressing the urgent needs of Togo's refugees
According to news reports, some 40,000 Togolese refugees have so far fled into neighbouring Benin and Ghana since clashes broke out around the 24 April presidential polls. Over 60 per cent of the refugees are women, young people and children under five. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that about 200 refugees are currently being registered each week. To meet the continuing maternal health needs of the refugee population, the United Nations Population Fund, is working with Benin’s Government to set up health posts in refugee camps.
Central African Republic/Chad: Refugees flee mystery attacks
Until a few weeks ago, the population at Amboko was just under 14,000, but since violence broke out in CAR in early June, more than 8,000 new refugees have arrived. In total, there are now more than 40,000 refugees in this part of Chad. It is unclear who is behind the violence that is making people flee their homes. But all the refugees tell a very similar story: unidentified groups of armed men are storming villages in the far north of CAR, shooting randomly, looting homes and terrorising villagers.
Global: Improving decision-making in asylum determination
This paper takes as its starting point the assumption that variations in refugee status determination procedures and the use of evidence by national authorities and UNHCR lead to inconsistent and irregular results. It therefore aims to present a reasonable prescription of remedies, by which the application of the 1951 Refugee Convention definition can be made more consistent and predictable.
Uganda/Rwanda: Uganda plans to kick out 1,000 illegal Rwandan refugees
Ugandan authorities have told over 1,000 Rwandan asylum seekers to either appeal their unsuccessful applications for refugee status, offer themselves for repatriation or get ready for deportation. At the same time the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Kampala says the failure of Rwandan refugees in Uganda to return home this year has eaten into its budget and forced it to ask for more funds from Geneva outside of its annual budget.
Egypt: Vote against the president say rights groups
Egyptians should boycott the coming presidential elections or vote for one of the opposition candidates, a group of local human rights organisations said on Saturday. In a joint statement, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (HRINFO), the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, the Nadim Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, the National Association for Human Rights and Human Development, the Egyptian Association Against Torture, and Al-Fagr (Dawn) Institution, expressed their fears that the re-election of President Hosni Mubarak would only lead to more oppression.
Ethiopia: Ruling party named winner in final result of disputed poll
Ethiopia's ruling party has retained power after winning a majority of seats in national elections marred by violence and alleged fraud, according to final results released by the election board on Monday. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's ruling coalition, which has held power for 14 years, took 327 seats, winning another five-year term, the National Election Board of Ethiopia said.
Kenya: Referendum 'could be farce'
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has been told if he campaigns for a "yes" vote then November's planned referendum for a new constitution will be a farce. Electoral Commission head Samuel Kivuitu said no-one could compete with the government and their allies. "The people should be left to decide for themselves," he said. The proposed new constitution has been criticised by the opposition and five members of Mr Kibaki's cabinet.
Liberia: Elections - Necessary but Not Sufficient
Liberia's presidential and legislative elections in October represent welcome progress but it would court disaster to consider them the end of the country's transformation, says the International Crisis Group (ICG). "The process can still easily fail if Liberians refuse to implement an intrusive economic governance mechanism or international partners pull out early. The UN, U.S., EU and World Bank need to stay the course."
Mozambique: Political clashes leave five dead
At least five people were killed and 16 others injured in Mozambique after supporters of the ruling Frelimo party and the main opposition Renamo clashed over disputed municipal elections, state radio said on Tuesday. The clashes in Mocimboa da Praia on Sunday and Monday followed May elections in the area won by Frelimo, Radio Mozambique said.
South Africa: ‘New UDF' sparks left debate
A great deal of excitement has been generated, among South Africa's general population and also in left-wing political and activist ranks, by the launch of what has been labelled by the mainstream media the “new United Democratic Front”. There are widely varying interpretations over exactly what and who - politically and organisationally - this “new UDF” represents, the character of its politics and potential, and whether or not it is a harbinger for a much-talked about split within the Tripartite Alliance - which consists of the ruling ANC and its “liberation movement” partners, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) - leading to the formation of an independent, left political party to challenge the capitalist ANC.
Botswana: Corruption still a concern
The chairperson of the Mahalapye Business Council, Galerobale Letsatle has stated that though many studies have shown that Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa, corruption is still prevalent around the country. Addressing members of the Mahalapye business community during a one-day crime prevention workshop organised by the Mahalapye police recently, Letsatle said corrupt practices in the workplace makes it difficult to punish those who are promoting it.
Global: Back to basics: 10 myths about governance and corruption
Governance - which remains a sensitive and misunderstood topic - is now being given a higher priority in development circles. A few donors and international financial institutions (IFIs) have begun to work with some emerging economies to help reduce corruption, and encourage citizen voice, gender equality, and accountability. Click on the link to the article to find out what the 10 “myths” of corruption are.
Nigeria: We’ll stop corruption in oil industry
The Minister of Solid Minerals and Chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has said that the body is determined to wipe out corruption and unwholesome practices from the oil industry. Ezekwesili, who spoke while receiving the British High Commissioner, Richard Gozney in her office said, the hitherto inaccessible revenue records of the nation's oil and gas industry would henceforth become public notice.
Uganda: URA identifies tax evaders
In the first crackdown in 14 years, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has unearthed a racket by 70 commodity importers involved in a fraudulent practice leading to the loss of billions of shillings. The racket was uncovered after URA intercepted forged documents. Analysis of the documents shows that URA has been losing close to Shs2 billion in taxes every month.
Africa/Global: Social watch launches development report
Social Watch will launch its Annual Report 2005 this 12 September in New York. "Roars and Whispers. Gender and Poverty: Promises vs. Action" presents two new indexes to measure social development, and concludes that the targets set for 2015 as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will not be met. The Social Watch report is being released on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly's 2005 World Summit, taking place 14 to 16 September, which will address, among other themes, the progress made so far in fulfilling the MDGs.
Africa/Global: UN report urges global leaders to avoid 'one more empty promise'
An annual report released by the United Nations Development Programme takes a critical look at the failure of the international community to make progress toward the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. The 2005 Human Development Report, "International Cooperation at a Crossroads: Aid, Trade and Security in an Unequal World," was launched this week prior to a UN summit on development this month in New York. By examining three pillars of international cooperation - aid, trade, and security - the report argues that none of the Millennium Goals will be achieved on time if the international community does not decide to make a serious effort towards overcoming social and income inequalities.
Kenya/Uganda: Row mars trade pact
Kenya has accused Uganda of violating the terms of a regional customs agreement that links the two countries with neighbouring Tanzania. The row comes eight months after the three nations launched the union in an attempt to revive the old East African Community, which collapsed in 1977. Under the agreement, Ugandan companies can import some Kenyan goods duty-free.
Malawi: DFID defends spending on consultants for aid projects
News that foreign consultants in Malawi are lavishly spending British aid money on hotels and meals has ignited controversy. The British Broadcasting Corporation reported that over a period of four years, some £586,423 (US $1 million) of a £3 million ($5.3 million) donation by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) to a project aimed at strengthening Malawi's parliament and civil society was spent on hotels, while another £126,062 ($226,395) went on meals. The UK's National Audit Office was reportedly contemplating an inquiry into DFID's use of foreign consultants.
Africa: In search of an HIV/AIDS vaccine
Remarks by Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, delivered at the opening ceremony of the AIDS Vaccine 2005 International Conference
"Africa is the epicenter of the pandemic. Something, somewhere is profoundly out of whack. The world needs an AIDS vaccine more urgently than it needs any single medical discovery, and Africa needs it more than any other part of the world. But for some inexplicable reason, the consuming enthusiasm, the obsessive drive, the sheer, unrelenting passion for a vaccine is simply not riveting the world at large as should be and must be the case."
Remarks by Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa,
delivered at the opening ceremony of the AIDS Vaccine 2005 International
Tuesday, September 6, 2005, 6:00 PM (EDT)
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This is a meeting of researchers and scientists. I am an advocate. It's
obvious that you can't turn me into a scientist, but I want to turn you into
advocates. To that end, I shall show my unbounded respect by refusing to
employ scientific jargon . nor dare I even attempt it when sitting on a
with two such illustrious and knowledgeable colleagues.
Last month, in Maputo, Mozambique, I attended the annual World Health
Organization regional meeting of all the African Ministers of Health. Late
the afternoon of the second day of the conference, an hour and a half was
aside for a discussion of HIV/AIDS and prevention. A significant number of
African delegations participated, raising all the conventional responses
involving behaviour change, and a few responses somewhat unorthodox in
content, from male circumcision to bio-chemical sexual suppressants!
What was not mentioned, by any official delegate, throughout the entire
session, was a vaccine. It was as though the preventive technologies had
totally fallen off the radar --- microbicides and vaccines both. If it
been for the presence of the former Prime Minister of Mozambique, Pascal
Mocumbi, attending as an 'observer', the word vaccine would not have
passed anyone's lips. And do remember, Dr. Mocumbi has a particular
interest: he's now the High Representative of the Clinical Trials
in the Hague.
What was even more interesting than the omission of preventive
technologies at the Maputo conclave --- 'peculiar' might be a better word
was that the session was based on an actual report, issued by WHO, of a
conference on prevention attended by a large number of African and
international experts, held in Brazzaville over three days in June. The
contained every aspect of prevention with which we are all familiar, but the
word vaccine did not appear from beginning to end. Again, it was as if the
preventive technologies were somehow outside the fault lines of AIDS.
How can this be? Africa is the epicenter of the pandemic. Something,
somewhere is profoundly out of whack. The world needs an AIDS vaccine
more urgently than it needs any single medical discovery, and Africa needs
it more than any other part of the world. But for some inexplicable reason,
the consuming enthusiasm, the obsessive drive, the sheer, unrelenting
passion for a vaccine is simply not riveting the world at large as should be
and must be the case.
I would argue that the same kind of extraordinary commitment, in country
after country, to achieve '3 by 5', and then to progress to universal
treatment, is exactly what has to happen in the pursuit of a vaccine. And
that's why I opened with the emphasis on advocacy, advocacy that can be
embraced by everyone at this gathering --- advocacy that will move us closer
to breaking the back of the pandemic.
Within that broad rubric, let me make three points.
First, we clearly need a great deal more money in the quest for a vaccine.
you know, it's estimated that we spent $690 million in 2004, and should be
spending a minimum of $1.2 billion every year hereafter, virtually doubling
current annual expenditures. Even though there have been new monies
committed by the Gates Foundation, and significant additional funds
recently announced by Dr. Fauci, we're still several hundred millions of
dollars short on an annual basis.
I want to say, categorically, that this state of affairs is unconscionable.
was nothing more than a rhetorical nod in the direction of a vaccine at the
G8 meeting in Gleneagles: it's almost beyond belief that the political
aristocrats so solemnly gathered couldn't bring themselves to promise an
absolute funding guarantee, in perpetuity, until a vaccine is discovered.
After all, the entire Summit was driven by an agenda for Africa. The
promise was made of a doubling of foreign aid, to $50 billion a year for the
continent by 2010. The G8 political leaders all understand that AIDS is
decimating parts of Africa; they all know that none of the Millennium
Development Goals will be reached in the high-prevalence countries because
of the virus; they all acknowledge that whatever the combination of
treatment, prevention and care, Africa's future remains perpetually
compromised until AIDS is vanquished. But they couldn't bring themselves
to guarantee that those in search of the new preventive technologies of
microbicides and vaccines --- the most formidable potential weapons we
have against the pandemic --- would be given the keys to the vault of
I hate to say it, but the explanation might lie in the gap between promise
fulfillment. What has emerged, post-Gleneagles, is the unsettling news that
part of the monies promised for official development assistance are already
earmarked for debt relief, Iraqi as well as African. That profoundly
diminishes the money available for foreign aid, certainly from Japan, and
quite probably from others. And that, in turn, can help to explain why the
Global Fund, whose replenishment conference ended just a few hours ago in
London , has apparently fallen some 3.3 billion dollars short for the period
2006-2007. The allocation for the Global Fund was meant to come out of
ODA, but the ODA is already found wanting before the signatures on the G8
agreement are even dry.
Think about that for a moment. All of common sense would suggest that the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is exactly the source
from which should come some of the future funding for vaccine
development, particularly involving trials in African countries. If that
is arid, vaccines are the losers again.
The argument I'm building towards is this: Your pursuit is in jeopardy. Your
collective voices must be heard on the funding dimensions of a vaccine. It
can't be left solely to activists. You're the influential professionals. You
should give no quarter; the world depends on it.
Which brings me to the second item: allied with the question of resources is
the question of broadening the base of scientific enquiry in the search for
vaccine. It seems to be widely accepted that the private pharmaceutical and
biotech companies must be brought on board. Their participation hitherto,
with one or two notable exceptions, has been, quite simply, paltry.
There are, of course, a number of explanations. The science is
complex and difficult; the exploratory investments are huge; the monetary
risks are great; and undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to urgency of all, the
market lies overwhelmingly in the poorest countries of the world.
Throughout the AIDS pandemic, pharmaceutical companies have shown a
remarkable financial narcissism when it comes to preserving their balance
sheets. But clearly, the expertise of the private sector, with its
history of producing vaccines for a vast range of diseases, is desperately
needed in a vibrant web of public-private partnerships.
Thus there has emerged the inventive idea of an Advance Purchase
Commitment, designed to guarantee market and price for those companies
who discover, manufacture and distribute a vaccine. It has the imprimateur
of the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, and has even been
subject, as you doubtless know, to calculations of the possible numbers of
courses of vaccination at a price which would guarantee a respectable rate
return. I shall not venture into the complicated calculus.
The so-called APM is designed to make things attractive enough to engage
the multinational drug companies. I will admit that under normal
circumstances, this kind of fiddling with market forces to satisfy the
sector (a private sector that pretends to such reverence for the free
of the market) would seem revoltingly rank. But normalcy is the furthest
thing from the present circumstance. We're dealing with a communicable
disease that dwarfs every illness since the Middle Ages. In that context, it
legitimate to make room for special privilege in the service of human
I have but one caveat. In my respectful submission, the architects of the
APM are aiming too low. The discussions are premised on two hundred
million or three hundred million courses of vaccine, requiring three staged
injections, with the related costs carefully calculated. Two to three
million doesn't begin to meet the need, or recognize the capacity that
exists to provide the vaccine. UNICEF and WHO have legendary experience
in immunization: they've learned to orchestrate national immunization days
in countries like India where millions are inoculated in one twenty-four
period. We should be looking at five hundred million courses at an absolute
minimum. This is not a time to trifle: this is a time to think on a scale
Third, as everyone in this room recognizes, the pandemic's greatest toll is
amongst women. It took us all a staggeringly long time to realize the
disproportionate vulnerability of women, but now that we have, much of the
work in prevention has turned to that excruciating reality. The problem is
that we're making infinitesimal progress. It seems as if every time another
ante-natal survey is taken, whether in South Africa or Swaziland, the
prevalence rates for women have increased. Indeed, I can say with woeful
and desolate confidence that on the ground, the responses to this growing,
lethal threat have touched the lives of women barely at all. The inability
women to govern their own sexuality, the sheer degradation of gender
inequality dooms vast numbers of women in Africa to the status of an
A vaccine then becomes the liberating hope for women. Assuming for the
moment universal access for women, should a vaccine be discovered,
women would be able to protect themselves from transmission with no
interference or involvement at all by current or prospective sexual
Now, there's a prospect devoutly to be wished, cherished, treasured. The
millions of women in their teens, twenties and thirties who stand the
gruesome risk of being infected, the millions of orphans left behind when
their mothers die, the carnage and devastation visited on one sex in
numbers . all of this would have a chance to become a thing of the past.
And because women are the poorest members of society --- and AIDS does
nothing more efficiently than to make the poor poorer --- the availability
vaccine is a battle won in the war against poverty. There is almost nothing,
on the face of it, which is pejorative about a vaccine.
Allow me, if you will, to make a few other necessary points, and then wind
my way to the end.
While the search for a vaccine continues, there can be no lessening of our
determination to resist the virus on every imaginable front. The 3 by 5
initiative has unleashed a galvanizing momentum for treatment: it must not
be allowed to abate. What the World Health Organization and UNAIDS
have done is to provide the greatest single trumpet of hope in the crescendo
of treatment rollout. If, as the G8 suggested, we can attain universal
treatment by 2010, we will have broken the back of the pandemic, although
we will not yet have subdued it. What is true for treatment must be made to
work for prevention (including targets for voluntary counseling and testing,
and targets for the prevention of mother to child transmission), and what is
then true for prevention must be made to work for home-based care. Despite
the millions of deaths and new infections every year, we have
psychologically shifted gears. The publics of Africa and of the world seem
aware as never before of the need to tackle the pandemic: if only we could
cross the Rubicon of political will.
I again appeal to everyone in this room to make your voices heard. The
problems in dealing with the virus are admittedly enormous; the
reconstruction of societies, infrastructure, and shortages of human capacity
are all overwhelming. But if we keep at it, in unrelenting fashion, we'll
succeed. The potential Achilles heel is, as always, resources. In 2005, it
estimated that we will allocate $8.3 billion to fight AIDS internationally.
UNAIDS released a monograph just last month, in which they noted that $15
billion is needed for 2006; $18 billion for 2007; $22 billion for 2008.
nowhere near those figures, and those figures are low estimates. What's
more, if vaccine research and development is to be fully funded, a minimum
of another billion dollars must be added to the total requirement between
2005 and 2007. The world desperately needs your voices.
And the developing countries desperately need your collaboration. One of
the chief reasons why a vaccine was not raised by the Health Ministers of
Africa is that they see research and development as the purview of the
North. Africa, in their eyes, is only invited to enter the equation when
time to do the clinical trials. That's simply not good enough. The
community in the industrial world must make an herculean effort to engage
the scientific community in the developing world in the entire apparatus of
research and development. Health research and development in Africa, for
example, can build capacity and infrastructure as nothing else, as well as
making real the partnership between South and North, which has more often
been a scurvy relationship of neo-colonial manipulation.
It's just not good enough to involve Uganda, and Kenya, and South Africa
and Rwanda solely in the clinical trials. They must be involved in a great
But when those trials take place, it's vital that consultation with African
governments be the sine qua non of collaboration. They must participate in
every decision from the process and practice of enrolment to the measure of
risk. I'm not suggesting that it hasn't been done hitherto; I'm suggesting
only that as the pace accelerates, there is no room for unilateralism.
But there is room for champions: political champions, scientific champions.
Just as the universe of AIDS is filled with the clamour for antiretroviral
drugs and behaviour change and home-based care and professional training
and solutions for countries awash in orphans, so must it also be filled with
the noisy, insistent protagonists of preventive technologies, microbicides
vaccines alike. It is both troubling and self-defeating when vaccines and
microbicides fall off the agenda.
Let me speak with utmost candour.
I don't think the world yet realizes the carnage that is to come. I don't
the world yet realizes the full, incomparable horror of AIDS, and its
inexorable spread around the planet. I don't think the world yet realizes
when we talk of the struggle for survival, it's not some facile phrase: it's
bitter truth for country after country in Southern Africa, and a truth that
spell the death for some of those countries before this century is a quarter
It's fascinating how we talk so yearningly of the Millennium Development
Goals. And it's right, of course, that we should move heaven and earth to
achieve them. But what, I ask you, happens after 2015? What happens to all
the countries for whom the goals are a hapless quest? What happens to all
the countries still counting the bodies and the infections of a pandemic
which has laid waste to their hopes and prospects?
For those countries, a vaccine is the best hope for salvation, because the
world doesn't stop in 2015. And if we work collectively, in a fashion at
equivalent to the space initiatives of NASA, then we will launch a working
preventive vaccine that will save and protect the lives of millions, right
the point where the MDGs leave off. There can be no greater legacy
bequeathed by the scientific community.
I'm an ignoramus when it comes to the nature of vaccines. But I've sat at
feet of Seth Berkeley of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and I've
read speeches and articles by Dr. Fauci, and I have a pretty good sense of
how incredibly tough the slog will be towards the discovery of a vaccine.
We know that when all is said and done, a vaccine is the ultimate answer to
this devilish pandemic, and when all is said and done, human ingenuity will
one day trump the Machiavellian mutation of the virus. It always does.
My counsel, then, is one of unrelieved hope, and the determination never to
Back on June 2nd, at the United Nations in New York, there was a daylong
special session on AIDS to visit the progress (or non-progress) made since
the famous 'Declaration of Commitment' of 2001. It was a remarkably
mournful, desultory, almost pointless day. It was clear that the virus was
running ahead of the response.
But there was one protracted episode of hope. The International Partnership
on Microbicides and IAVI jointly sponsored a luncheon meeting on the new
preventive technologies. It was attended by many ambassadors and senior
members of the secretariat and a large number of interested parties. It was
addressed by cabinet ministers of Brazil, India, Rwanda and the United
Kingdom. It was also addressed by Kofi Annan, Peter Piot, Zeda Rosenberg
(the CEO of IPM) and Seth Berkeley.
The room was electric with interest and commitment. The sense of
expectation and of hope was palpable. It was a great moment.
It's that expectation and hope that I beg you to carry forward.
Ethiopia: Sharp rise in reported polio cases
The number of reported polio cases in Ethiopia has risen sharply from two to 16 this year, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported. The first two cases were children living close to the border with Sudan, where a polio outbreak was reported in December 2000.
Ghana: Invalids turned away from hospitals as doctors strike
New patients are being refused treatment at state hospitals across Ghana where a strike by doctors demanding back payment for overtime work went into a fifth day on Wednesday. At Ghana's main Korle Bu hospital in the capital Accra, beds lay empty as nurses explained they were under "strict instructions" to turn people needing medical help away.
Malawi: Villagers respond to AIDS orphans crisis
Five years ago, the residents of Majini village, about 90 km from the southern border town of Beitbridge, Zimbabwe, were reluctant to talk about HIV/AIDS - now they are planning a vegetable garden to support AIDS orphans and other families affected by the disease.
"The growing number of AIDS orphans in the area made the villagers sit up and look for solutions," said Reverend Musa Makulubane at the local church, which has been proactive in trying to get residents to adopt a more responsive stance to HIV/AIDS.
Nigeria: Huge gains in battle against fake drugs, government says
The proportion of fake and often deadly medicines in Nigeria has dropped from nearly 70 percent circulating in 2002 to less than 10 percent three years later, according to the country’s drug control agency. The figures are preliminary results from a new government survey of the counterfeit drug trade, Dora Akunyili, head of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), told IRIN this week.
Uganda: Funding cuts responsible for condom shortage, says Lewis
UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis and other AIDS advocates on Monday said the Bush administration's policy of emphasizing abstinence-only prevention programs and cuts in federal funding for condoms have contributed to an alleged condom shortage in Uganda and undermined the country's HIV/AIDS fight, London's Guardian reports. Lewis said in a teleconference sponsored by health and human rights groups that "there is no question that the condom crisis in Uganda is being driven and exacerbated by [the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] and by the extreme policies the administration in the United States is now pursuing".
Africa: School fees ‘barrier for girls’
The biggest barrier to girls' education around the world is school fees, a charity argues. Save the Children says in a report that 17 of the 25 countries with the most girls not in school still charge fees. It says another 4.5 million children would go to school if fees were abolished in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for instance. The report focuses on girls, who are said to make up 60% of the 100 million children worldwide not being schooled. Save the Children says that in Liberia, for example, sending one child to school costs half the average income of £62.
Global: Education and HIV/AIDS: ensuring education access for orphans and vulnerable children, a training module
HIV/AIDS-related death has claimed over 20 million lives over recent decades, and an estimated 40 million people are living with the disease today. Most of the victims are parents whose absence has left their children living under extremely difficult conditions. The recent UNICEF ‘Children on the Brink’ report estimates that currently, 13 million children under the age of 15 have lost either one or both parents due to AIDS. By 2010 this number is expected to reach 25 million. The number of orphans from parental deaths of all causes, is predicted to number a staggering 106 million. The future of these children is at stake, particularly as it involves their access to social amenities such as health and education services.
Liberia: Girls sell sex to stay in school
When Precious was just 12, she sold her body for the first time to a man nearly four times her age. Now 18, the Liberian schoolgirl sleeps with five to six men on an average day to pay her school fees of 1,500 Liberian dollars (£16) a year and to buy food. Precious receives the equivalent of between 27p and 54p from each client.
Nigeria: International communities storm Abuja for IAEA convention
About 200 delegates from 28 countries all over the world are expected on Monday at the 31st Annual Conference of International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA), slated to take off on September 4-9,2005 in Abuja. The Conference, which for the first time will take place in Nigeria, is aimed at assisting educational agencies in the development and appropriate application of techniques to improve the quality of education, will be hosted by JAMB, NECO, NTI,WAEC, NABTEB, and Fleet Technologies limited.
Southern Africa: SADC urged to focus on education
Namibia is one of the few countries that allocate a huge chunk of their budgets towards education, and parliamentarians who met in Zambia recently feel Southern African governments need to follow this trend. This plea was made at the third Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education (FAPED) in the Southern African region that took place last month in Living-stone, Zambia.
Africa: Climate change raises risk of hunger – scientists
About 50 million more people, most of them in Africa, could be at risk of hunger by 2050 due to climate change and reduced crop yields, scientists predicted on Monday. Roughly 500 million people worldwide already face hunger but rising levels of greenhouse gases could make the problem worse. "We expect climate change to aggravate current problems of the number of millions of people at risk of hunger, probably to the tune of 50 million," said Professor Martin Parry of the Hadley Centre of the UK Meteorological Office. "The greatest proportion, about three-quarters of that number, will be in Africa."
Africa: Export subsidies for dams: a Trojan horse for environmental destruction
On September 6-7, the OECD governments are expected to take a decision on whether to allow special financial terms to take effect for hydropower projects that are financed with official export credits. They are also expected to decide whether the current environmental guidelines of Export Credit Agencies are sufficient to mitigate the negative impacts of large hydro projects. Non-governmental organizations have for many years advocated that Export Credit Agencies offer favorable financial terms for sustainable energy technologies like wind, solar, and geothermal.
Africa: Legal remedies for the resource curse
The Justice Initiative has released a report assessing the availability of legal remedies for addressing corrupt practices in the natural resource industries. Legal Remedies for the Resource Curse is a digest of practical experience in using law to combat corruption across jurisdictions. When resource extraction companies can obtain oil, diamonds, gold, coltan, timber, and other natural resources through covert contacts with unaccountable government officials, the losers are the people in the communities where the wealth originates. The power of corrupt governments frequently derives from monopoly access to natural wealth, bolstered by foreign government and industry allies.
Benin: Country seeks to avert sea disaster
The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the United States has given added urgency to Benin's plans to protect its coastline against erosion. The quick advance of the Atlantic Ocean is visible in the small West African nation. The fury of the sea waves have eaten up many homes, hundreds of beach residents have been forced to pack up and go, and experts are warning of catastrophe if vigorous action is not taken immediately. One great danger is that the country's main city, Cotonou, with a population of more than 500,000, lies below sea level - like New Orleans in the US. So should there be violent floods, a large chunk of the city could be submerged by water and possibly even wiped off the map. .
Liberia: Poachers, miners, squatters leave Sapo National Park
Conservationists have moved hundreds of squatters out of Liberia's largest national park, putting an end to their slaughter of wildlife and illegal gold mining. Alexander Pearl of Conservation International said about 500 people had been transported out of Sapo National Park in south-eastern Liberia during a five-day programme carried out in conjunction with UN peacekeepers and the government.
South Africa: Johannesburg+2 Conference on Sustainable Development 1-4 September 2004
On 1-2 September 2004, IUCN-SA assisted the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism with the facilitation of the Learning Centre, a parallel event at the Johannesburg+2 Conference on Sustainable Development. The Learning Centre had the overall theme of exploring how we are defining and implementing sustainable development in South Africa. The Learning Centre consisted of a mix of lectures, debates, keynote addresses and case study reflections. Key questions for each session were posed to speakers and panellists and a report on the Learning Centre was submitted to DEAT, which is available for download by following the link.
West Africa: Cheaper power a step nearer as work begins on gas pipeline
Construction has begun on a 700 km pipeline that will transport Nigerian natural gas from the oil fields of the Niger Delta along the West African coast to Ghana, via Benin and Togo and promises cheaper and more reliable power for millions of residents by the end of 2006. The West Africa Gas Pipeline is part of the West African Power Pool, an ambitious project launched by the regional economic body ECOWAS in 2000, which aims to increase the trade in energy between member states and encourage investment in the power sector. The pipeline is expected to cost US $617 million, project officials say.
Chad: CPJ speaks with jailed journalist
Journalist Michaël Didama, speaking from his prison cell in the Chadian capital N'Djamena, denounced his detention as illegal and called on local and international journalists to keep up pressure for the release of all four reporters jailed by the government since July.
"This is a crackdown on the press. There is nothing legal about our arrests," Didama told the Committee to Protect Journalists in a telephone interview. Didama has been in the capital's overcrowded Central Prison since August 8. He was sentenced to six months in jail after his newspaper in May, 2005, covered rebel groups and an alleged massacre of civilians in eastern Chad.
Somalia: Journalists demand safety
The International Federation of Journalists has backed Somali journalists in their calls for the need to improve the security of media professionals in the country, according to an IFJ statement. During the opening of the 3rd General Assembly of the IFJ affiliate in Somalia, the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON) in Mogadishu, delegations from the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) of Somalia, Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and the IFJ discussed the troubled media landscape of this divided country with over 170 SOJON members.
Southern Africa: Media looks at ethics
A recent conference by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) ended with a call to Southern African governments to stop furthering their political agendas through media control, according to a statement. The statement said government control stifles editorial independence and free, fair and objective reporting. The conference was held in Windhoek under the theme Media, Ethics and Professionalism: Towards an Ethical African Media.
Zimbabwe: Former "Daily News" journalist acquitted in important test case
A magistrate in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, acquitted a journalist on criminal charges of working without accreditation for the now-banned Daily News, according to his lawyer. Observers say the ruling in favor of Kelvin Jakachira could set an important precedent for several other former Daily News journalists facing the same charge. Jakachira was accused of working for the paper between January and September 2003 without the government license required by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). The Daily News, Zimbabwe's only independent daily, was forced to close in September 2003 after the Supreme Court ruled that it was operating illegally under AIPPA.
DRC: AWOL soldiers return to base
One of two army battalions in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that the military reported as missing on 26 August, may not have been absent; while the other battalion has since returned to its barracks, Defence Minister Adolphe Onusumba said last Thursday. "There was no desertion, it was a problem of communication," he said at a news conference in Kinshasa, the nation's capital.
Southern Africa: Hunger threatens southern Africa
Aid agencies are warning of severe food shortages leading to hunger in several southern African countries this year. Some 10m people need food aid after the drought led to the worst harvest since 1992, says the UN World Food Programme. According to Oxfam, the world is ignoring the lessons of Niger in not acting quickly.
Sudan/Uganda: Salva Kiir pledges support against the LRA
Sudanese First Vice-President Salva Kiir assured Uganda on Wednesday of his cooperation in the fight against the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which operates from bases in both countries. A statement from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's office said Kiir told the Ugandan leader that both the government in Khartoum and his Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) "are willing to have joint operations with the UPDF (the Ugandan army) against rebels remnants".
Sudan: SLA rebels 'destabilising' Darfur
African Union peacekeepers in Sudan have condemned Darfur's largest rebel movement for banditry and abductions. The AU mission said the Sudan Liberation Army were destabilising the region and jeopardising peace talks with the Khartoum government. More than two million people in Darfur are homeless, driven from their homes by two and a half years of clashes.
Sudan: The Overkill
The on-going conflicts in the provinces of Darfur in western Sudan are a textbook example of how programmed escalation of violence can go out of control. It is increasingly difficult for both the insurgency and the government-backed forces to de-escalate the conflict which has been called with reason "genocide". It will be even more difficult after the war to get the pastoralists and the settled agriculturalists to live together again in a relatively cooperative way.
Zimbabwe: Economic distress deepens
Harare has made an urgent appeal to South Africa to finalize a loan agreement under discussion and release funds amid reports that Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has only deepened with the government’s payment of $120 million in scarce hard currency to the International Monetary Fund to stave off the loss of membership. A senior official at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said the country desperately needs an infusion of hard currency to purchase fuel, food, and essential inputs for agriculture and manufacturing.
Digitial TV comes to Africa
Five years ago the idea of digital television in Africa would have seemed absurd. The continent was 'sucking information through a narrow straw'. Now two countries have announced their intention to offer digital television, reports Balancing Act News Update. Senegal seems to have been first into the game, launching a pilot at the end of last year with 200 trial subscribers. Mauritius is trialling now and will launch in 2006. South Africa is headed in that direction but is only trialling video on demand this month.
Fighting heat, dust and the digital divide in Nigeria
Kafanchan in northern Nigeria is an unlikely place for a digital renaissance. But a television program prominently telecast found people there not only "eager to join the information age, use computers and get on-line"but planning to do so in a rather unorthodox manner. APC member the Fantsuam Foundation is working on a revolutionary alternative computer, tailor made for the so-called "developing" world, that uses solar power.
Schools in Burkina conquer the New Technologies
Two initiatives aim at integrating the new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the educational system in Burkina, a country that figures at the bottom of the UNDP classification scale. Global Teenager Project (GTP) is a programme set up in 1999 by the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD). The project brings the new information and communication technologies to the high and middle schools. Apart from this project, World Links, a World Bank programme, set up in Burkina in 1997, aims for better integration of the new ICTs in schools.
World Information Technology Forum declaration to be presented to Unesco
At the World Information Technology Forum (WITFOR) conference in Gaborone, capital city of Botswana, the "Gaborone Declaration" proposal was adopted, which will be presented to the UNESCO general assembly. The proposal focuses on how technology can be used to enhance development and eradicate poverty in developing countries.
Lissanga Infos is a newsletter providing accurate information on various subjects: ICTs, Women, HIV/AIDS, NGOs, Environment and opportunities (conferences, training, call for proposals and others). The newsletter, published by AZUR Developpement, is available in French only. Please send an email to [email protected] for free subscription.
Lissanga Infos est un bulletin d’informations qui fournit des informations récentes sur divers sujets: TIC, Femmes, VIH/SIDA, ONG, Environnement et opportunités ( conférences, formations, appels à propositions de projets et autres). L ebulletin d’informations est disponible en langue française uniquement. Envoyez un email à [email protected] pour s’abonner gratuitement. Ce bulletin est publié par AZUR Développement.
RAPID Programme Email Update
The RAPID Programme Email Update is the Overseas Development Institute's Research and Policy in Development Programme Electronic Newsletter (also available at http://www.odi.org.uk/rapid/news) ODI's Research and Policy in Development programme aims to improve the use of research in development policy and practice through improved knowledge about research-policy links; improved knowledge management and learning systems; improved communication; and improved awareness of the importance of research. This newsletter brings you regular updates of the latest additions to the RAPID Programme Website: http://www.odi.org.uk/rapid
How to guide on fundraising research
Funders Online has compiled useful information and practical tips on how to research independent funders, how to package your project proposal and where to find additional information, both in print and online, on foundations and corporate funders, as well as on fund-raising.
Mobilizing African Diaspora Resources for Enterprise in Africa
The African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) is mobilizing the diaspora's skills, knowledge and experience to provide assistance to organizations in Ghana and Sierra Leone. We shall partner with organizations where diaspora skills, knowledge and experience will result in more people, especially young people, establishing SMEs, securing work, building skills and confidence.
Mobilizing African Diaspora Resource for Enterprise in Africa
Mobilizing Diaspora Skills, Knowledge & Experience:
The African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) is mobilizing the diaspora’s skills, knowledge and experience to provide assistance to organizations in Ghana and Sierra Leone. We shall partner with organizations where diaspora skills, knowledge and experience will result in more people, especially young people, establishing SMEs, securing work, building skills and confidence. This initiative is in partnership with VSO.
How will we do this?
· By placing Africans in the UK with local/indigenous organizations/enterprises in Ghana & Sierra Leone for short-term periods on a pro bono basis (travel and accommodation costs covered)
· By linking those unable to travel with local organizations so they can provide ‘virtual’/on-line assistance
· By building a network of those interested in this initiative to allow exchange of ideas and information sharing.
What will the assignments involve?
We cannot be prescriptive at this stage, but they might include:
· Practical support to important employment/enterprise generating sectors such as tourism, fisheries
· Hands-on training, facilitation
· Leadership development, management support
· Access to new markets, technology, etc.
When will the assignments start?
· Current research phase to identify needs of African organizations will end by mid-November 2005
· Recruitment and selection of candidates by January 2006
· Assignments commence early 2006
· In this first stage, we hope to recruit up to 10 advisors per country (ie 20 in total).
We would like to hear from you if you:
· Are part of the African diaspora, we are particularly keen to hear from Ghanaians and Sierra Leoneans for this first phase but we welcome all (we use African diaspora as an inclusive term)
· Feel you can share – on a pro bono basis - skills, knowledge and experience (gained from education, work, voluntary roles and leisure activities) to help young people in Africa help themselves and find meaning in their lives through productive work (we shall cover travel and accommodation costs)
· Are passionate about participating in and contributing to Africa’s development
· Are available to spend time in Ghana or Sierra Leone or can contribute from a distance.
Who do I contact to express interest in this initiative?
Interested individuals should contact Christine Matambo, Youth Programme Officer, AFFORD on:
Tel: 020 7587 3900 Fax: 020 7587 3919 E-mail: [email protected]
· She will take your contact details, your skills set, your interests and discuss further with you on this.
· You will also be kept abreast, via an e-mail network, of developments on this initiative
· We encourage you to express your interest as soon as possible!!!
NAMAwatch is a resource for people following the non-agricultural market access (NAMA) negotiations at the World Trade Organisation. The site brings together in one place official documents, research and critical voices, with navigation in English, French and Spanish.
The PRODDER directory
Between 1987 and 2001 PRODDER established itself as the most comprehensive development publication of its kind in Africa and became a much sought-after reference tool on Southern African development. It was previously compiled and produced by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in book format. SANGONeT has since acquired the rights to the directory. The new PRODDER directory is a combination of the last published PRODDER and SANGONeT's electronic databases. In the future, information from the Department of Social Development’s NPO Directorate’s database (collected over the past eight years) will be added.
Participatory, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Course
November 21 - December 2 2005, Kenya
This course aims to enhance the impact of development programmes by improving the accountability of development organisations. According to the organisers, the course will enable the development worker to: Link planning, monitoring, evaluation to learning and accountability; Explain concepts related to planning, monitoring and evaluation; Understand different types of monitoring including how to conduct impact monitoring and impact evaluation; Adapt and apply various participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation tools; and Design simple monitoring framework for projects and programmes.
Symposium on Islamic civilisation in Southern Africa
Call For Papers
An international symposium on "Islamic Civilisation in Southern Africa" will be jointly organised by the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), the National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa (Awqaf SA) and the University of Johannesburg, South Africa on 1-3 September 2006. The symposium will examine topics such as the spread of Islam in South Africa; the relationship between trade and Islam; language and Islamic literature; Islamic education and intellectual development; history, contribution and challenges; colonialism, apartheid and democracy; coexistence of cultures; arts and crafts, architecture and archaeology; future perspectives; Muslim media; influential figures; establishment of financial institutions; community-state relations; NGOs.
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON
ISLAMIC CIVILISATION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
Johannesburg, South Africa, 1-3 September 2006
Call For Papers
An international symposium on “Islamic Civilisation in Southern Africa” will be jointly organised by the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), the National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa (Awqaf SA) and the University of Johannesburg, South Africa on 1-3 September 2006.
The symposium will examine topics such as the spread of Islam in South Africa; the relationship between trade and Islam; language and Islamic literature; Islamic education and intellectual development; history, contribution and challenges; colonialism, apartheid and democracy; coexistence of cultures; arts and crafts, architecture and archaeology; future perspectives; Muslim media; influential figures; establishment of financial institutions; community-state relations; NGOs.
For the purpose of this symposium Southern Africa will include: South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritious, Comoros, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland, Seychelles, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Madagascar, Reunion, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The official language of the symposium will be English. However, subject to feasibility, Arabic, French, and Zulu/Xhosa will be accommodated. Abstracts should be submitted in English with an indication of language preference for the preparation of the paper.
If you are interested in the symposium, please send the abstract of your proposed paper to either of the following addresses by the end of February 2006:
Yildiz Sarayi, Seyir Kosku,
Barbaros Bulvari, 80700
Besiktas, Istanbul, Turkey
E- mail: [email protected]
Fax: +90 212 2584365
Telephone: +90 212 2591742
Local Organizing Committee:
P.O. Box 96415, Brixton 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +27 (0)11-8378669
Mobile: +27 (0)82 2164269
Accra GCAP concert attracts thousands
Thousands of people packed into Ghana's Independence Square in Accra on Saturday 3 September 2005 for the marathon 15 hour Africa Standing Tall Against Poverty Concert featuring Africa's leading musicians, leading civil society personalities and anti poverty campaigners. The concert was telecast live on Metro TV, attracting a television audience of over 700,000 within Ghana alone. "This is a great unifying event," said Mac Tontoh, one of the headline acts. "Africa is speaking with one voice and our leaders and the world must listen." Kumi Naidoo, chair of the GCAP Facilitation Group, the main sponsors of the concert, received great applause from the crowd when he spoke powerfully about the growing mass movement against poverty in Africa and the responsibilities of the Millennium Summit assembly in New York.
ACCRA CONCERT ATTRACTS MASS SUPPORT FOR GLOBAL CALL TO ACTION AGAINST POVERTY
Thouseands of people people packed into Ghana's Independence Square in Accra on Saturday 3 September 2005 for the marathon 15 hour Africa Standing Tall Against Poverty Concert featuring Africa's leading musicians, leading civil society personalities and anti poverty campaigners. The concert was telecast live on Metro TV, attracting a television audience of over 700,000 within Ghana alone.
"This is a great unifying event" said Mac Tontoh, one of the headline acts. "Africa is speaking with one voice and our leaders and the world must listen."
'Great to see so many people here today. You are all terrific!", exclaimed the Catholic ArchBishop of Accra, Palmer Buckle, "I am so glad to be here, to add my voice and that of the church to this unique campaign to eradicate poverty from Africa. We cannot turn back!"
Kumi Naidoo, chair of the GCAP Facilitation Group, the main sponsors of the concert received great applause from the crowd when he spoke powerfully about the growing mass movement against poverty in Africa and the responsibilities of the Millennium Summit assembly in New York.
The colourful Africa Standing Tall Against Poverty event, proved to be a powerful campaigning platform for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. It started at 10 am with a masquerade procession through the streets of Accra to the Independence Square. The concert itself kicked off dramatically with "Poverty is Slavery", a sketch featuring chained slaves, and Kings Jubilee, the Liberian accapella group, singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."
Kwasi Adu Amankwa, General Secretary of the Ghana TUC, host of the event gave the welcome speech to great applause. 'I bring you solidarity greetings from the TUC. For 60 years, we have been fighting to eradicate poverty. Today, and looking at the crowd, there are a lot more of us to accomplish this noble task".
Over 30 music groups and leading musicians mounted the stage, all evoking the spirit of solidarity and the importance of Africa speaking with a collective voice to fight poverty. Most artists called for the total eradication of poverty from Africa, with chants and audience responses. The musical headline included Seun Kuti, Mahotella Queens, Daddy Showkey, Salif Keita, Mac Tontoh, Orlando Julius and Obuor, who stole the show with his fire dancers. The show rolled on with excitement, the audience increasing dramatically as night fell. Eric Wainaina, one of Kenya's leading performers was introduced by Ali Mwangola, also from Kenya. The crowd waved enthusiastically to Wainaina's music.
Several campaigners from numerous NGO's, youth and student volunteers took part in the concert organisation, manning stalls, distributing white bands and leaflets, encouraging people to text anti poverty messages and raising awareness about the need to eradicate the scourge of poverty from Africa.
Join a GCAP event on September 10
10th of Sept
Popular March Of the People on the Bukavu’s main street. At the end of this march all the people would be gather in front of UN’s offices (OCHA).
Contact: .Jean Kamengele Omba, tel: +243 8131 82406; email: [email protected] (contact media)
On 10 September a music festival is taking place in the Cinema Roma, a beautiful old cinema in Asmara the capital. The programme includes workshops to give young talents in Asmara a chance to develop their skills and to be creative. The event is called: Feel One Vibe (Make Poverty History).
An MDG Shadow Report is being launched on the 10th. This is due to be launched on the 10th in a national media launch and workshop. The slogan for the WB2 actions in Kenya is "A Platform for Citizens to Denounce Poverty".
At the event four actions are taking place:
1.On the 10th a giant petition signed by government ministers, civil society representatives as well as the general public will be presented.
2) A display of testimonies of people in poverty called 'People behind the figures' is being displayed.
3) A press call
4) A talent show of children, where children get the opportunity to express their hopes and visions for 2015 - because 2015 belongs to them, rather than to us.
Contact: Achim Chaiji Tel. 254-20-4440440/4 cell pnone. 254-722-331612,
10th of Sept
Three events are planned:
1. A set of these postcards with the message " No Excuse, Make Poverty History in Malawi", will be delivered to the State President to remind him of his obligation to reduce poverty in Malawi.
2. A shadow report will be officially presented to the UN Resident Representative at a specially convened press conference/debate.
Contact: Emmanuel Ted Nandolo email [email protected]
1. Media campaign
There will be announcements on the activities for WBD II three days in advance (from 8th Sept onwards) on the radio and on the TV (private and national TV). Two short programmes have been made for the campaign with targeted messages.
2. A breakfast meal is planned with government representatives and delegates. It will be hosted by the hunting community, one of the most traditional communities – this will be followed by a breakfast press conference.
3. There will be a presentation of a petition to the Prime Minister in Bamako – the petition focuses on a campaign against the privatisation of the Malian Company for the Development of Textiles and the introduction of GM foods.
4. There will also be a conference and debates on the MDGs with a representative from CAD- Mali and a state representative (In charge of the National strategies for action against poverty).
Music concert in front of Maputo's slums.
Contact: Jeronimo Napido or Silvestre Baessa Email : [email protected]
10th of Sept
1. Rally - Huge march in Windhoek through the city centre and delivery of a petition to officials/representatives going to the MDG summit
2. Radio and television coverage ahead of the 10th
3. Draping of white cloths around parks within the central business district .
Contact: Mr. Theo Uvanga Namibia Development Trust, P.O. Box 8226, Bachbrecht, Windhoek, Namibia, Tel: +264 61 238002/3, Fax: +264 61 233261
10th of Sept
1. Morning rallies in front of the political leaders offices.
2. Breakfast with the MDG Summit delegation.
A press conference will be held after the breakfast.
Contact: Ali Abdoulaye, tel:+227 7525 60, email: [email protected]
1st - 10th Sept
1. Press brief on the 1st of September
2. Civil society Conference on the Paris Debt Deal on the 5th of September at Gurara Hall, Rockview Hotel, Abuja.
3. Poverty Public Hearing. We have mass of people gathered in various locations across the 36 states and the Federal Capital territory, Abuja to hold a public hearing on poverty issues in Nigeria and present manifestations and testimonies of poverty incidence. – 10th September
4. Send ‘wake up to poverty’ testimony post cards to the President and members of the National assembly (at the Federal level) and Governors and members of the States House of Assembly (at the State level) 10th September
5. Broadcast a documentary ‘ the face of poverty in Nigeria’ in a national television at 10pm
6. The week ends with a music concert and rally 14th September
Contact: Justice Egware: email: [email protected]: tel: +234 9 2900526; +234 8036299488; +234 8023464831.
There will be a gathering in front of the houses of parliament in Dakar and outside Thies Town Hall (70Km from Dakar) with MPs, local authorities, artists, and the general public. More than 1,500 people are due to take part.
1. On Sept 5th: Poverty Tour (collecting testimonies in the form of audio, video and photos from people living in extreme poverty to be presented to the Sierra Leone delegates that will be attending the UN+5 Millennium Summit).
2. On Sept 7th: Radio and TV panel discussions on MDGs (Intermittent slots of video testimonies collected from the poverty tour will be aired during the TV discussion).
3. On Sept 8th: a radio phone-in programme on the MDGs (coalition members will discuss about the MDGs in relation to Sierra Leone and members of the public will make calls to make their own contributions).
On Sept 10th: Wakeup to Poverty press conference and launch of the Sierra Leone Alternate People’s report of progress made on the MDGs: “As if People Matter”.
Contact: Mohamed Sillah -Tel: +232-22-231392/232246/234197, Cell phone: +232-76-830071, [email protected]
1.The coalition is urging the two main Educational networks, namely FPENS and SAFE to help youth mobilization in the afternoon of September 10th. Hundreds of youngsters/students from 20 schools and universities will be engaged to propagate the netional motto: ‘CIRIBTIR SABOOLNIMADA- Eliminate Poverty’. Plus a press conference at a chosen venue in Mogadishu. There will also be a media event for an early morning wake up call.
1. The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) wants to organize the country workshop that is to take place prior to reporting in UN in September. We are hoping for representation from government at a high level to pass on the message that people are indeed the centre of all government policies, and the centrality of humanity to development is indeed embodied in the MDGs. Government will report to the public on progress made as well mobilize the nation particularly the five development finance institutions around the MDGs
2. Party Against Poverty – a ethical club night to raise awareness, engage and motivate people in their late teens and twenties. This is being held in 8 cities (Lagos, London, Edinburgh, New York, Johannesburg, Paris, Amsterdam and Ibiza) on Saturday September 10th and being linked via audio and digital images aswell as pre-coordinated visuals and DJ mixes
White band rallies and white band messaging on trucks that will sweep through the central streets to broadcast the messages.
Contact: Julius Kapwepwe: 256 41 533840/77 499455: [email protected], [email protected]
1st - 10th Sept
1.National Consultation to finalise the Civil Society position towards the summit, the forum will be held on the 1st of September at Mulungushi International Conference centre. Part of the forum will be the presentation of the Shadow Report.
2. A walk to Justice, from Lusaka Main Post Office to the Freedom statue where we shall present position to the UNDP Country Rep and to one member of the Zambia Delegation going to New York.
3. An hour of prayer: An inter –faith prayer service will be held at Chawama Grounds on Sunday, the 4th of September from 15:00hours to 16:00hours. The service will be led by the Inter –Faith committee on MDGs – a sub committee of the National Civil Society MDG Campaign
Contact: Henry Malumo, Tel: 260 1 266234, Mobile: 260 97 656832, Email: [email protected], [email protected]
8th - 9th Sept
Publishing of Civil Society Shadow Report, which culminates in a People’s Conference on the MDGs
Contact: Fambai Ngirande, email [email protected]
Send an SMS and say 'No to Poverty'
White Band Day 2 takes place on September 10 and events are taking place around Africa to mark the day. You can join the call to end poverty in Africa, by sending an SMS to the number +27 82 904 3425
SAY NO TO POVERTY
Support the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP). Text ‘NO TO POVERTY’ and your comments with your name and surname to
+27 82 904 3425
Your message will be posted on the website www.gcapsms.org and used to demonstrate support for the GCAP movement.
Recent messages received (out of a total of 1749 messages)
1. NO TO POVERTY. We must do whatever we can! Toyin Omolola, Nigeria
2. No to debt .thumbs down 2 poverty. My name is Adjoa my surname Clarke, Ghana
3. NO TO POVERTY. Stop agricultural subsidies in EUROPE & USA for fair trade. Olive Wonekha, MP Uganda
4. No to poverty, Lesabane Audrey Mahlatsi, Bloemfontein, South Africa
5. What Africa truly needs is FAIR TRADE not AID. Poverty in Africa must end now! Ophelia Soliku, Ghana
6. hi my mane is kamara pabai a liberian liveing in ghana poverty can kill so no to poverty i love Africa, Ghana
7. we can chase poverty out if we act as one people with a single voice. FROM JASON ASEDEM
8. Africa is one, we are behind u in eradicating pvrty in Afrc.frm Kazohua famly ,Namibia
9. NO TO DEBT. Oumi COULIBALY, Tunisia
10. The African nations should just default debt payment because this is a form of neo-colonialism. We should revive the 1960s Pan-African movement. Ireri, N, Kenya
Tanzania GCAP launch
The Tanzanian GCAP/MDGs Campaign, "Ondoa Umaskini Tanzania" (Eradicate Poverty in Tanzania) will officially launch its campaign on September 10, 2005 simultaneously in Dar Es Salaam, Kigoma, Loliondo, Mwanza, Same and Singida. A press conference announcing the launch will be held on September 8th with banners and posters displayed at bus stops, along major roads and in front of key public buildings. At the Mnzani Mmoja Ground in Dar Es Salaam more than 2,000 people will come together to form a human chain wearing shirts with the campaign messages and white bands made by poor women living in rural villages in Ngorongoro.
The Tanzanian GCAP/MDGs Campaign, "Ondoa Umaskini Tanzania" (Eradicate
Poverty in Tanzania) will officially launch its campaign on September 10,
2005 simultaneously in Dar Es Salaam, Kigoma, Loliondo, Mwanza, Same and
Singida. A press conference announcing the launch will be held on
September 8th with banners and posters displayed at bus stops, along major
roads and in front of key public buildings.
At the Mnzani Mmoja Ground in Dar Es Salaam more than 2,000 people will
come together to form a human chain wearing shirts with the campaign
messages and white bands made by poor women living in rural villages in
The campaign launch will include performances from musicians, comedians and
drama groups including Jay Mo, Stara Thomas, Choka Mbaya Sisters, Short na
Hasara, and Dully Sykes. Those also expected to attend include government
officials, civil society organizations, trade unions, international
organizations and members of the diplomatic community in Tanzania.
Speaking at the event will be John Hendra, the UN Representative in
Tanzania, the Permanent Secretary in the Vice President's Office and
representatives from the Muslim Council of Tanzania (BAKWATA) and the Trade
Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA).
The main aims of the campaign call for improvements to the quality of basic
services for all Tanzanians. Education and health as well as governance
and accountability are central to the policy demands, which a teacher from
Shinyanga and a person living with HIV/AIDS will present to the audience.
The main event will also be linked through a web feed to the UBUNTU
mobilization in Barcelona.
For more information about the Tanzanian Campaign Coalition please contact
Mr. Ngunga Tepani, Campaign Coordinator, PO Box 31147, Dar Es Salaam
Tanzania. Tel: +255 22 2774581/2 Cell: +255 748 286507
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