The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals which are meant to be achieved by the target of 2015. These goals are: 1) to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2) to achieve universal primary education 3) to promote gender equality and empower women 4) to reduce child mortality 5) to improve maternal health 6) to combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases 7) to ensure environmental sustainability and 8) to develop a global partnership for development.
Mr John W Ashe, the former ambassador to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda was elected to be the 68th President of the United Nations General Assembly in June 2013. In an editorial recently published in a Zimbabwean daily he states: “during my term as General Assembly President, the United Nations will embark on a process with the potential to guide the course of humankind for decades to come [by] defining parameters for the post-2015 Development Agenda.”
It must be observed that this a bold statement, especially when one considers that a 2011 World Bank report revealed that only four African countries are likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015; specifically: Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Malawi. It therefore doesn’t make sense to start speaking about post-2015 developmental goals when most of the continent will fail to meet the targets at hand.
Now let’s look at Malawi for instance. While the aforementioned World Bank report notes that Malawi is one of the four African countries likely to meet the 2015 MDG targets, economists have also noted that between 2004 and 2011 Malawi received 5.3 billion dollars in foreign aid. Further, economists have also observed that Ethiopia experienced a real GDP average of 11.2 % per annum during the 2003/04 and 2008/09 periods. That said, a 2009 study by the Brookings institute reveals that “foreign aid has played a major role in Ethiopia’s development effort…it has been instrumental in bridging the country’s savings-investment and foreign exchange gaps.”
Coming back home, the UNDP Country program document for Zimbabwe (2012-2015) reports that since 2009 Zimbabwe has made “significant progress on a number of MDGs such as MDG 6 on combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases and MDG 2 on achieving universal primary education. The primary school net enrollment ratio (NER) was 91% in 2009 with the girls’ ratio going up to 50,5%. Although the NER is still high, it is worth noting that the ratio has declined from 98.5% in 2002.”
Now in 2002, world powers including the European Union (EU) imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe which included the cutting off of 128 million Euros in developmental aid to Zimbabwe. While current reports that restrictions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) will be removed when EU foreign ministers meet next month are welcome, it can still be argued that the MDGs and any other post-2015 developmental goals are impossible to achieve without assistance in the form of aid. We need that aid.
It is often argued that aid is dependent upon good socio-economic governance. This is noted. However, consider this 2007 Reserve bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) report on sanctions; it reads “the scaling down of donor support and developmental assistance grant inflows declined significantly from an annual average of US$138 million in the 1990s to US$39.9 million registered between 2000 and 2006.” Compared to the aid inflows into Ethiopia and Malawi, that amount is a drop in the ocean.
It is therefore important for the world to acknowledge the socio-economic and political developments made in Zimbabwe during the lifespan of the Global Political Agreement, as well as the peaceful environment surrounding the 2013 SADC and AU endorsed harmonized elections. Ultimately, without significant developmental aid channeled through government, the achievement of the MDGs is a very long shot for Zimbabwe.