. . . Country off-track on four of the eight international development targets
PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane yesterday said it was disturbing that Lesotho would not meet some of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The MDGs are eight international development goals established following the 2000 United Nations (UN) Millennium Summit held in New York, which each member country is supposed to have achieved by 2015.
The goals, namely to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development, were derived from the UN Millennium Declaration, which proclaimed every individual has the right to freedom, equality, a basic standard of living that includes freedom from hunger and violence and encourages tolerance and solidarity.
However, speaking during yesterday’s ceremony to launch Lesotho’s 2013 MDGs Status Report, Lesotho Partnership Policy, National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) and Public Sector Investment Database (PSID) in Maseru, Dr Thabane said it was cause for concern that the country was off-track on at-least four of the MDGs.
“I observe with dissatisfaction that we are off-track in the four goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1), reduce child mortality (MDG 4), improve maternal health (MDG 5) and in combating HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis (MDG 6),” Dr Thabane said.
“HIV and AIDS infections, high mother and child mortality, high rates of stunting in children under five years of age, pervasive hunger and poverty, high inequality and unemployment have worked together to impede efforts to improve the lives of Basotho and reduce vulnerability at household level.”
The premier further said the same difficulties were standing in the way of attaining the National Vision2020, adding a concerted strategy to overcome the health and social deficits as well as create jobs, was a critical necessity.
“It is now time to plan for the period beyond 2015, both in Lesotho and also as part of the global consensus. We are now discussing sustainable goals that will build on the MDGs beyond 2015. During the UN General Assembly in 2013, we acknowledged that inclusiveness is also vital and agreed to elevate disability in our plans going forward,” Dr Thabane said.
Lesotho’s performance, he noted, called for a strong post-2015 development agenda committed to poverty eradication and sustainable development.
“Our post-2015 plan must be bold and yet simple. It must be supported by a new and effective partnership for development that recognises the valuable inputs of and responsibilities for traditional partners, South–South Cooperation, foreign and local civil society organisations and the private sector.”
Dr Thabane also said the plan would be inclusive with particular emphasis on women, the young generation and marginalised groups.
There would also be acceleration on efforts to promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, protection of the environment and actions to address climate change, he added.
“Health, poverty, hunger and inequality must form the core of our strategy beyond 2015. But we must also consolidate our efforts on gender, empowerment of women and the youth as well as access and quality of education.”
The premier acknowledged the role played by international development partners in the country’s economic growth, adding the partnership policy the two parties adopted “embodied a vision towards sharing obligations and responsibilities” to accelerate the attainment of agreed goals.
As articulated in the NSDP, government had identified commercial agriculture, tourism, the transformation of textile manufacturing and technological advancement as focal sectors in which Lesotho and foreign
investors would create jobs, Dr Thabane added.
“We recognise the value of private sector investment when complemented by targeted public sector infrastructure and the upcoming investments in water transfer and electricity generation under the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the expansion of mining operations by Letšeng Diamonds and Leqhobong Diamond Mine,” Dr Thabane said.
The MDGs Status Report, meanwhile, noted it is in the nature of the MDGs that they mutually reinforce one another.
Success in education, for example, is likely to result in gains in other MDGs, the reported highlighted.
Conversely, failure to achieve one MDG, such as the elimination of hunger and extreme poverty, is likely to threaten the achievement of several other MDGs, the report further indicated.
In his address, the Minister of Development Planning, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, said the present government still had a lot of work to do before its term ends.
“We have a job that we have to finish by 2017,” Dr Majoro said.
He said lack of coordination in government departments have not helped in the realisation of the development plans.
“We have had situations whereby different departments were running some projects targeting the same group of people while other groups were not catered for,” he said.
Dr Majoro further said the PSID would ensure that such duplications do not happen because projects would be put on the website for all to access.
“People will access the PSID website where they can see how many projects government will be running and districts where projects will be happening. People can also check the performance and progress of the projects,” he said.
On her part, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Karla Hershey, said Lesotho had broader issues to address by further refining the MDGs beyond 2015.
“The Basotho nation needs to have a voice in the global debate and to facilitate this, it is important to leverage the support of other partners such as civil society, the private sector and the media,” Ms Hershey said.
“The UN system is already reaching out to work with civil society to enhance their influence in shaping the country’s position in the post -2015 inter-governmental process by effectively reflecting the needs and wants of the communities,” she said.