September 27, 2010

Prime Minister urges more support at MDG summit

The United Nations annual General Assembly has focused on an evaluation of the progress made towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Over 140 heads of state and government attended the meeting held September 20 - 22. In their speeches at the summit a lot of statesmen highlighted the gains they have made. Some also called for more help from donors in overcoming deficiencies. Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda for example told the summit that economic reforms had produced growth rates averaging 7 per cent a year over the past decade. But, Mr Pinda cautioned, “this is not enough to achieve all MDGs.” A modest decrease in the poverty rate “is not giving us much hope,” he admitted, adding, “In the area of child mortality, we have made little progress.”

Describing an initiative to boost incomes for farmers, Prime Minister Pinda also issued an “appeal to the UN institutions, the international community, the private sector and other development partners to support our efforts.” With such support, he assured his listeners, Tanzania “will undoubtedly realise” the goal of cutting its poverty rate by half.

Looking to bolster the global fight against poverty, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon launched a $40 billion plan. According to him, the sum was aimed at saving the lives of 16 million women and children over the next five years. The plan seeks to make headway on maternal and child health, the slowest-moving elements of the Millennium Development.

"These realities are simply unacceptable. The 21st century must be and will be different," Ban said. According to him, the U.N. agreed that the goals of halving poverty and hunger were within reach, but more was needed to meet those that cover education and maternal health, reducing child mortality, combating major diseases, promoting gender equality and protecting the environment.

Furthermore, a U.N. statement said more than $40 billion had been pledged by governments, foundations, businesses and non-governmental organizations. The figure covers both domestic investment and aid to other countries. However, Emma Seery, spokeswoman for the development group Oxfam, said an additional $88 billion was needed to meet child and maternal health goals and anything less was not enough. "We have learned to be sceptical of big announcements at summits," Seery said in a statement. Joanna Kerr, chief executive of the anti-poverty group ActionAid, called the three-day summit an "expensive side-show that offered everything to everyone and nothing to no one." "An avalanche of warm sentiment cleverly concealed the fact that no fully funded plans of action for tackling poverty were actually announced," Kerr said.

U.N. officials said nearly $27 billion was new money being announced by governments -- indicating the rest had already been committed since plans for a global strategy for women's and children's health were first disclosed in April. Some $8.6 billion was coming from low-income countries, they said. Orr said that if 16 million lives are to be saved, the total sum needed would be as high as $169 billion. He said the $40 billion launch is expected to attract further pledges in coming years. The U.N. statement called the global strategy "a road map that identifies the finance and policy changes needed as well as critical interventions that can and do improve health and save lives." (sadocc)

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