I am here wondering how to phrase my thoughts on the MDGs seeing as I just heard the word MDGs for the first time in 2008 when I joined the university and sat in one of my 101 classes.

Since then having engaged in various development platforms despite my very scientific course I have found myself crisscrossing quite a bit with the MDGs. The first criticism of the MDG was the lack of universality of the goals including the somewhat ambiguity that came with the framework such that the implementation was not very well stipulated. It perpetuated the notion that developing countries relied on the developed world to fund their national development hence the lack of sustainable ownership of the goals but rather a platform to advance continued dependency. This also was such that the developed world took the leadership in deciding what to prioritize given that the funding pretty much came from them.


What to show for it??


15 years later it is evident that the goals where the best results have been realized are those where individual countries had initiated projects but received a boost from external funding and international focus that came with the MDGs such as education and infant mortality.

The best thing is that we are at such a time when the post2015 development agenda is being formulated for which we see a lot of consultations and a more bottom up approach. The principle of universality is also emphasized and hence the goals will not continue to define the world countries with what is different about us but rather what we need to achieve as a common world with a shared vision. Find an elaborate introduction by the UN Foundation to what the post2015 is, the genesis and what the framework is set out to achieve (http://t.co/q4Hrta1EuX)


Kenya seeks to build consensus at all levels from the onset!!!


Kenya just recently answered to the commitment made at the 69th UN General Assembly to host a national forum on post 2015. The forum was held on the 12th-13th February 2014 in Mombasa against the backdrop of the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations in New York. What is laudable about the Kenyan post2015 forum was the inclusion of all stakeholders; UN fraternity, various line ministries, government departments and civil society including young people.

Of importance during the meeting was the crucial analysis of where we stand 15 years into the implementation of the MDGs. According to the Millennium Development Goals Status Report for Kenya 2013 by the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the proportion of people living below the poverty line increased from 43.4% in 1990 to 52.3% in 2000, however since then the rate has progressively reduced to about 45.2% in 2009. A recent analysis by the World Bank in 2012 estimated proportion of those living below the poverty line to be approximately 34.8%. What these aggregate figures do not provide are the gross inequalities manifested economically as we continue to eradicate extreme poverty. We have nearly achieved gender parity in primary school enrollment where we currently stand at 98% as of 2013 with literacy levels of 15-24year youth at 91.3 in 2009.


This is some progress for us with efforts to establish political will, create infrastructure and strengthen and establish various institutions to make this a reality being emphasized in all of the 15years implementation period.

The various departments present at the forum attempted to define the situation in which we are in while formulating the SDGs, an increasing population with a considerable unmet need for family planning, quite unmet targets on combating maternal mortality, need to ever intensify efforts on the need for sustainable methods to achieve food security. We are also just discovering various natural resources and the prospect of a growing extractive industry is beckoning and what this means for our foreign policy in terms of trade. We are at the same time expanding ourselves and repackaging ourselves to attract investors both local and foreign at a time when the youth bulge in our country poses a challenge to unemployment rates and we are not sure whether to see our young people as an opportunity; as they well are or our biggest challenge.  The issue of investing to reap the demographic dividends is one that we are grappling with quite visibly. In retrospect the demographic trends are not static and those advocating for the right of older persons are pushing for social safety nets that will ensure smooth intergenerational transition for all populations such that from the onset the government should emphasize on planning for all ages.


One of the biggest challenge and perhaps Herculean tasks ahead is the need to collect, produce and disaggregate data that will enable planning. The existing data gaps not only pose a challenge in terms of getting ourselves off the ground but also in terms of ensuring we leave no one behind; which is the overarching theme of the post2015 development agenda. A data revolution is required and Kenya certainly needs one. The African Union (AU) just recently called for intensified efforts on civil registration to ensure all children wherever they are, are accounted for.


We continue to be like many of our neighbors in a fragile context in terms of our security situation both internally and externally. It is overwhelming to grapple with what this means in terms of increased military spending against the provision of basic amenities and social safety nets for our people.


It is not an easy time for any country; not by a long shot, but the need to discuss way forward and overcome all the above mentioned challenges paved way for  forward looking discussions on a road map. Within the roadmap the stakeholders discussed the issue for resource mobilization for the post2015 development agenda nationally. This discussion was held while the group participants took cognizant of the parallel Financing for Development process taking place alongside the post2015 intergovernmental negotiations. Other issues of importance discussed were the localization including domestication of the SDGs and Monitoring and Evaluation.


Kenya is well placed within this discussion; this is illustrated by the strategic leadership demonstrated by our Permanent Ambassador to the UN; Ambassador Macharia Kamau who  co-chaired the open working group and is current responsible to  co facilitate the intergovernmental negotiations. The blueprint for Kenya’s development Vision 2030 coincides with the timelines for the implementation of the post2015 development agenda.


We are well within our reach and we are certainly having the discussion at the right time!!!!



Catherine is a Mandela Fellow 2016, Women Deliver Young Leader and member of Youth RISE International working group. Catherine is a passionate young African feminist activist with over 7 years of experience in advancing gender equality, youth development and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of sustainable development through movement building, digital and social media, policy advocacy and capacity building for young women and adolescents girls. Catherine is currently Deputy Director at Dandelion Kenya, and sits on the SDGs Kenya Forum coordination committee. Catherine has engaged with various global and regional policy processes such as ICPD Beyond 2014 review, Beijing +20 and the post 2015 development agenda. She co-authored the article ‘Leave No One Behind; Will African Women be left behind in the post 2015 development agenda ,an article published on the East African Business Monthly in February 2015. Catherine launched the #SRHRDialogues, an online advocacy and awareness raising platform on SRHR and #YAFDialogues, an online platform anticipated to be a permanent mobilizing platforms borne out of an African feminist dialogue 2015 in Accra. Follow her on Twitter: @catherinenyamb1

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