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[afro-nets] The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006 (2)

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006 (2)

Dear Colleagues

Thank you, Claudio for alerting me to the MDG Goals Report for 2006.

For anyone with an interest in seeing success in Africa, the overview is a 
disaster. This is, of course, not news.

I have considered the MDG approach to relief and development something of a 
fiasco from the start. As someone who has done management information design 
for most of my career, a process that looks out 15 years is likely to 
accomplish little unless it is complemented by serious short term action plans 
that really do reflect the longer term goals, and there is strong focus on 
these short term actions and their results. But that was never the case with 
the MDG process. Bill Easterly from NYU describes the situation very well in 
his book "The White Man's Burden" ... a good book with a rotten title.

This MDG Goals Report for 2006 highlights the terrible lack of
progress in Sub Sahara Africa (SSA). 11 items in the "no progress, or a 
deterioration or reversal" and 7 items in the "target is not expected to be met 
by 2015 if prevailing trends persist. None better than that.

In contrast East Asia has 3 items in the "target already met", 6 items in the 
"target is expected to be met ..." and just 3 in the "no progress or a 
deterioration or reversal".

Southeastern Asia is almost as good: 2 items in the "target already met" group, 
 7 items in the "target is expected to be met ..." group and just 2 items in 
the "no progress or a deterioration or reversal" group.

Leadership in the international relief and development sector (RDS) should be 
drawing some lessons from this ... it is well known that relief and development 
progress reflects almost total failure of the process ... but at the end of the 
day the RDS experts recommend doing the same things over and over again with 
more money and expecting different performance. The big questions of HOW and 
WHY there is relief and development failure is not asked out loud ... in big 
part because there are far too many people who are quite happy with the status 

Where has the money gone? What has it been used for? What results of any 
tangible value have been achieved? These are legitimate questions, and though 
not very challenging academically, none of the RDS organizations or the RDS 
leadership (people) seem willing or able to give solid answers. It really is a 
sad and unacceptable state of affairs.

Are there any changes in progress that might give cause for optimism? Maybe. 
There are many professional and technical people in Africa who could make a 
difference, but they need opportunity ... not just to become involved in more 
dialog, but to actually do productive work that has durable value in the 
context of the African community. It is a step to integrate African academics 
into the global dialog, but this is only an interim step ... there has to be 
conversion of academic work into applications and tangible economic goods and 
services of value.

Will the needed opportunity ever have access to funding? A weaker maybe. But 
without this Africa will not do very well. This is not achieved by debt relief 
of government debt ... but needs modest amounts of real money in the right 
places. It can be done, but some hard work is needed to attract the capital 
into this ... and very little has been done on this up to now.

In our own little way, we are moving ahead in these directions ... now it is 
malaria (with an integrated mosquito and malaria control program strategy) ... 
soon it will be community level job creation ... and then .......  we shall see.

But one thing we know ... going out 15 years with our goals in not our idea of 
how to manage a difficult process effectively, though it does employ a lot of 
report writers and analysts!


Peter Burgess
Transparency and Accountability Network

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