According to Chapter 1 in the MDG UN Report: Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of goals that address extreme poverty from hunger and disease to exclusion, as well as promote gender equality, environmental sustainability and education. The targets also serve as basic human rights to things like security and shelter.
Because the MDGs are so broad, individual countries must figure out how to deal with the issues. The MDG Steering Group believes the combination of African leadership and effective international support accounts for the success of African countries in achieving MDGs. To name a few, Malawi has seen a reduction of child mortality rates, and Senegal has made progress toward the water target. Although Africa can get international aid, it’s primarily up to African governments to be leaders and put in place programs to help meet the goals.
To illustrate, we’ll examine how Senegal is achieving some of the goals.
According to an article from Impatient Optimists by Laurie Lee, in 2012 Senegal held its first legislative elections since the gender parity law (requires political parties to have half of their candidates in both local and national elections be women) was enacted. Because of this, female lawmakers increased from 22 to 43 percent. In addition, Senegal also elected a female Prime Minister, Aminata Toure.
The third MDG is to empower women and promote gender equality. Senegal now has slightly more girls than boys enrolled in primary school, and roughly one-third of Sub-Saharan countries are on track to achieve this goal, specifically gender parity in primary school enrollment, by 2015. Although primary schools in Senegal are more equal, secondary and tertiary education enrollment still needs attention.
Education is very important to women in particular. According to Laurie Lee’s article, “Girls and women with more education delay marriage and pregnancy, leading to lower likelihood of maternal and child death. Mothers with more years of education have the skills necessary to compete for high-skilled and well-paid jobs and will therefore be in a better position to feed, care for and educate their children.”
Senegal’s new government will now allow women in rural areas to own land. They also reformed the nationality code to allow all Senegalese women to pass their nationality on to their children. Senegal is being innovative in providing access to family planning information, services and supplies, says Lee.
The government plans to roll out a system to ensure that health clinics are always stocked with a variety of modern contraceptives. They hope to more than double the percentage of women using modern contraceptives between 2012 and 2015 from 12 to 27%, according to Lee’s article.
According to a case study, Senegal has progressed toward achieving MDG 1, which is to decrease extreme poverty. But due to a population increase, the number of affected people has increased. Senegal has also shown a commitment to address MDGs 2-6 as well (MDG 3 success mentioned above).
According to the study, “Senegal’s MDG targets for water supply are 100% urban coverage and 82% rural coverage; its targets for sanitation are 78% urban coverage and 59% rural coverage.” Senegal is said to be on the right track to achieving MDGs for water supply, specifically MDG 7.
The study reads: “The continent as a whole is lagging behind on each Goal despite a very encouraging recent rise in the rate of economic growth, an overall improvement in the policy envi- ronment, and strong macroeconomic fundamentals.”
According to a 2013 report, although sub-Saharan Africa has made strides in the right direction, it must continue to better their efforts in order to achieve the MDGs by the 2015 target date. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 noted the steady progress sub-Saharan Africa has made:
- Fewer mothers and children are dying;
- There is a growing number of women in power;
- There is greater access to health and education services;
- Deaths from malaria and tuberculosis have decreased.
According to the report, progress for children in sub-Saharan Africa is “within our grasp.” The average rate of reduction of child deaths has doubled from 1.5 percent a year in 1990-2000 to 3.1 percent a year in 2000-2011; however, the child mortality rate is still the highest in the world despite a drop of 39 percent from 1990-2011 (for children under five years old). It went from 179 deaths per 1,000 live births to 109. The number of children who are underweight also dropped from 29 to 21 percent. Between 2000 and 2011, primary school enrollment rates in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 60 percent to 77 percent.
According to the report, other improvements are also being made in sub-Saharan Africa:
- In an effort to combat diseases, in 2011 one-third of children slept under insecticide-treated tents. This is up from less than 5 percent in 2000.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has the second highest access to HIV treatment. In 2011, 56 percent of people with HIV received antiretroviral therapy. The area is still severely affected by HIV though.
- Mortality ratios fell by 41 percent over the past two decades (from 850 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 500 in 2010).
- The number of parliamentary seats held by women has increased by 8 percent, from 13 in 2000 to 21 in 2013 (second highest among developing nations). In 2012, Senegal had women take 43 percent of parliamentary seats.
- Between 1990 and 2011, the region’s population using an improved water source increased from 49 to 63 percent.
An IMF article says Africa is managing to sustain social spending despite global turndown — higher spending on health and education in specific.
Social spending refers to the funds that governments put aside for social programs — whether they be for health, housing, food, etc. Government social spending aims to eventually eliminate poverty.