New Zeal Required To Realize The New Sustainable Development Goals
Even as we prepare to lay the eight millennium development goals to rest and start deliberations on the sustainable development goals, it is important to reflect on where we are as a nation, what we have achieved and what remains as major obstacles towards realization of world development at the national level. By 2015, the government committed to a lot of things. They said, they will halve extreme poverty rates, halt spread of HIV, reduce maternal mortality, child mortality among several others goals.
However, despite several achievements notably the domestication of the International Conference on Population and Development Plan of Action (1994) into national policies, guidelines and Acts of parliament, the reality is that we are not where we should be.
We realized progress in reduction of Total fertility rate from 8.1 in 1979 to 4.6 births per women in 2009, infant mortality rate dropped from 88/1000 to 52/1000 and contraceptive prevalence rose from 17% to 46% during that period. Other indicators such as poverty levels however increased from 40% in 1994 to 46% in 2006.
For us to close in on the millennium development goals by 2015 and achieve our Vision 2030, we need to have a paradigm shift; not just in terms of policy development but implementation. Sessional Paper No.3 of 2012 on Population Policy for Nation Development which even got international recognition remains at danger of not being actualized because of weak monitoring and evaluation and lack of sufficient will by implementers to see the ideas through. We are at danger of being a nation of theories and no walk.
According to the National Council for Population and Development, the semi-autonomous agency in charge of population and development, the daunting task of ensuring that Kenya’s population is properly managed as a resource isn’t just the work of one party. Indeed The NCPD has opened its doors for structured conversations with civil society organizations on the ICPD Beyond 2014 and the post 2015 development agenda. The Swahili have a saying that kidole kimoja hakivunji chawa. (One hand cannot squash lice)
The challenges bedeviling us cannot be solved if NGO’S and governments are reading from different scripts on key issues such as youth and reproductive health rights. Ultimately all a genuine government should want is a healthy and empowered people and that should be the ultimate goal of all civil society organizations.
Working together however should not mean keeping quite when a county with one of the highest rates of maternal deaths spends 87 Million shillings on tea and flowers yet that amount would purchase about nine fully equipped Beyond Zero Campaign ambulances. Working together does not mean keeping quite when Members of a County Assembly (MCAs) from a county spend over 2M shillings to learn how to use Facebook. Working together does not mean watching by as MCAs go for a foreign visit to see how spaghetti is grown yet we all know there’s no crop called spaghetti.
We need to move away from the old hackneyed cliché that we are a poor nation and that there’s no money for our development priorities. Are we putting the ‘little’ money that we have for good use? It’s morally wrong for government agencies to fully absorb recurrent expenditure while developmental expenditure in most cases is returned to the exchequer or donors.
For Kenya to realize her development agenda and tackle recurring themes in the global discussion such as human rights as a development issue, sexual and reproductive health and rights, strengthen health systems and fully manage the youthful population, all agencies must play their role with selflessness and passion; with a burning desire and eyes fixed on the prize.
As nations headed to New York for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) to reaffirm their commitment to the post 2015 development agenda, our hope is that we will pursue the Sustainable Development goals with a gusto that was lacking in implementing Millennium Development Goals.
The article was published by The Standard Newspaper 12 September 2014