Despite challenges of monumental proportions, Namibia has made commendable progress in meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – with successes noted in the areas of poverty reduction, education, gender equality, health and environmental sustainability.
The country is, however, off target with regard to equitable distribution of income, eradication of hunger and halving the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation, among a list of unachieved targets.
The implementation of the eight MDGs – that will expire in 2015 – started in 2000 after the Millennium Declaration was adopted by 189 member states of the United Nations (UN), including Namibia, at the Millennium Summit in New York in September that year.
In the declaration, world leaders committed themselves to freeing all men, women, and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty.
Under the eight MDGs, countries are expected to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, empower women and reduce child mortality.
Signatories are also expected to improve maternal health, combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
A document seen by New Era, detailing the country’s performance in these areas over the past 15 years, shows that – overall – the country has done well in meeting key targets.
The report, which the National Planning Commission is expected to release soon, recommends that more should be done to guarantee greater impact on the reduction of poverty in the country – a responsibility that President Geingob has consistently said he would shoulder.
Since 2000, the country has been under the leadership of former presidents Sam Nujoma (1990-2005), Hifikepunye Pohamba (2005-2015) and Hage Geingob (since March 2015) – each of whom had a role in how the country performed on MDGs.Although Geingob’s ascendancy to power five months ago was perhaps too late to make a meaningful impact on the outcome of the country’s MDG performance, it can be argued that the incumbent president has rolled out pragmatic interventions, especially in the fight against poverty.
With the MDGs coming to an end, Namibia is advised to devise new sets of goals in order to keep the development wheel rolling.
It is noted, for example, that one of the key challenges for Namibia in the development of MDGs was the lack of consultation with national, regional and local authorities and citizens.
“This lack of consultation included government ministries, but more specifically community service organisations (CSOs), the private sector and citizens. The MDGs did not receive sufficient buy-in due to the lack of participation in the MDGs design, setting of priorities and implementation. The country did not entirely rally behind the MDGs,” states the report, which also said there was no sufficient political will to drive at the targets.The country was also slammed for its sluggish implementation record, which according to the report, is in contradiction with the many good policies that Namibia has developed.
The country’s private sector was also sharply criticised, with little evidence of its contribution towards the overall development of the social and welfare sectors.