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Monday, January 17, 2011

MDG 2015 – A Significant Progress for Developing Countries

As outlined in the previous post, I have given a brief history of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals with the target date of 2015 toward achieving its initiatives and for those looking for a better reason to get involved, I would like to outline two very important areas of the MDG that in my opinion are worth noting.

Point 1: The Millennium Development Goals are feasible.
In our current political climate, we are all used to bold statements by our elected leaders without any substance. There rarely is an outlined process by which these statements can be realized, how to fund it, or how to sustain it. This is where the MDG separates itself from other bold initiatives.

The Millennium Development Goals are comprehensive without being unrealistic. After an exhaustive research process, the Millennium task force decided to focus their efforts in twelve (12) unique villages to use as the test cases for the MDG’s. These Millennium Villages were chosen due to their locations in relatively stable African countries in secure regions with a diversity of farming, water resources, diseases, and infrastructure problems that reflect challenges facing the continent and how a range of solutions can be tailored to resolve and overcome each issue.

The Millennium Villages approach provides the UN task forces with a well defined and reasonable land area within which the various research studies can be investigated and applied, making data collection quite feasible. It also makes an overwhelming issue such as the eradication of poverty feasible when taken into the context of 12 villages rather than an entire continent. Then if the strategies applied to these villages are successful, the practices can then be applied in other villages, towns and cities on the continent until a large percentage of Africa has been positively affected by the Millennium Project.

Point 2: Accountability.
Without being too harsh, corruption within most governments in African nations have been well documented (where in certain cases one needs a receipt for paying a bribe). Billions of aid dollars have been sent to African nations without any tangible results while many leaders are increasingly getting wealthier and opening Swiss bank accounts.

By deciding to focus on the 12 Millennium Villages, the UN task force had to create an environment of accountability, meaning that each location had to meet certain criteria to qualify as a Millennium Village including a commitment from the government through in-kind donations as well as local support from community groups and organizations. The Millennium Villages offer a scalable model for fighting the issues outlined by the MDG’s and require full accountability from local governments to achieve success.

In order to claim success, there needs to be an initial research done to set the baseline data upon which future research can be compared to. This research process requires a certain amount of transparency and accountability from the Millennium Villages and their governments. Once accurate data begins to be collected, its accuracy depends on the integrity of all the parties involved, and various organizations have been set in place to provide a level of transparency and accountability not seen before in developing nations.

Unfortunately corruption has become an accepted part of African culture and practically expected of our elected officials. As grand an idea as the MDG’s are, changing the culture of an entire continent is practically impossible. However, by focusing their efforts on these 12 Millennium Villages in 10 African countries, the issue of transparency and accountability becomes more feasible. It’s much easier to attempt to change the corrupt culture in a small village than it is to change the nature of an entire continent.

It is my assertion that the Millennium Project has chosen a prudent path to ensure its success and set a precedent for future developments of its kind to succeed, however the success of the MDG’s depends on a social and cultural change in African cities, and in particular within elected government officials. If they are successful in changing the culture of corruption by introducing accountability and transparency in the 12 Millennium Villages, then there should be great hope for the future of our continent, and a much improved quality of life.

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