The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education – have been the cornerstone of our country’s agenda for the past 15 years.
The MDGs expire this year and looking back, the framework has helped to galvanise development efforts and guide our national development priorities.
During the period under review, the country has scored some notable successes in areas, such as proportional access to safe drinking water for households, percentage of TB cases treated, the ratio of school attendance by orphans as well as improving the ratio of literate females to males.
We are also on target with regard to increasing the literacy rate of people aged between 15 and 24 years, have halved the poverty-gap ratio, increased the share of women in waged employment outside agriculture, and are on course to increase advanced access to ARV drugs.
Sadly, we have failed to deal with the disturbing Gini coefficient in our country, leaving the country with a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Also, despite the zebra-style lists that many political parties have adopted in order to increase the number of women in parliament, the number of seats held by women in parliament is still not on target.
More also needs to be done on reducing the infant mortality rate, as well as improving ante-natal care coverage across the country.
But while addressing our failures in the above-mentioned areas of governance, perhaps the most important question on everyone’s lips would be ‘What is next?’, now that the MDGs have reached their deadline.
The UN is currently in the process of defining a post-2015 development agenda, which will be launched at a summit in September.
The process of arriving at the post-2015 development agenda is led by member states – with broad participation from major groups and other civil society stakeholders.
It is not immediately clear whether Namibia has started planning already ahead of the summit next month. We hope the country has started doing some groundwork on its development agenda, so that unlike the MDGs, the process is crafted at home and not imposed on us.
Namibia’s 2015 report on the MDGs, due to be released soon by the National Planning Commission, raises concerns about the lack of consultation among key development stakeholders – and how some officials were reluctant to apply themselves firmly to achieve the MDGs.
It is said that many officials felt they were not consulted on crafting the development benchmarks for the country and therefore had no affinity for the MDGs.
Luckily, Namibia already has NDP4 as its guiding development plan. This can, therefore, be used in shaping the 17 new sustainable development goals that will be hammered out in New York next month with the aim of ending poverty, promoting prosperity and people’s well-being, while protecting the environment by 2030.
Whatever the new goals may be, Namibia must use her MDG experience as a yardstick with which to measure its competitiveness in succeeding at the new targets.
One of the concerns raised with regards to MDGs was Namibia’s patchy record on implementation. It is therefore to be hoped that government officials – and indeed all Namibians – will punch above their weight this time around so that we exceed the expectations that the UN, and indeed the world, have of us.
In the final analysis, Namibia can give herself a pat on the back for the manner in which we have successfully exceeded many targets of the MDGs.