The clock ticks as countries strive to meet MDGs targets

Addis Ababa, 12 June 2013 (ECA) - With fewer than 1,000 days to the 2015 MDGs target, concerted efforts are needed to accelerate the rate of extreme poverty reduction, according to a progress report released at the end of the African Union Summit in May.

The report is co-authored by the African Union Commission (AUC), UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

The 2013 Assessing progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals stresses the need to convert Africa’s impressive economic performance, witnessed over the past decade into greater gains. It concludes that while Africa is the world’s second fastest growing region, its rate of poverty reduction is insufficient to reach the target of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

The report covers a gamut of issues and policy recommendations, and reveals a mixed pattern of successes, challenges, innovations and obstacles. On food insecurity, the report provides linkages to other MDGs, including health, agriculture, food distribution and nutrition. “Improving these would fast-track progress towards other MDGs,” according to Mr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the ECA.

It  further reveals that climate-related shocks have destroyed livelihoods and exacerbated Africa’s food insecurity, resulting in a high incidence of underweight children, widespread hunger and poor dietary consumption patterns.

ECA notes that most countries are off the mark, when it comes to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; reducing child mortality and improving maternal health; and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Globally in 2012, 15 of the 20 countries which made the greatest progress on the MDGs were from Africa. Countries such as Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Malawi and Rwanda are making impressive progress on a number of goals and targets.

Ares on track are: achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; combating HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other diseases; and Global partnership for development.

The report is produced annually and takes stock of Africa’s overall performance on the MDGs and identifies the best performing countries by indicator, based on progress relative to each country’s initial conditions. The report concludes it is imperative that countries continue to learn from one another, as the countries that have sustained, equitable growth, with political stability and human development-oriented policies, are doing well in most of the goals.

“Africa must commit to inclusive, transformative development that reduces income poverty, creates decent jobs, enhances access to social services, reduces inequality and promotes resilience to climate-related hazards,” the report’s foreword states.

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