Africa behind on millennium goals progress: UN

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2012 11:31 AM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Most African countries are lagging behind in achieving the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals and will not make as much progress in health, nutrition and sanitation as had hoped, U.N. officials said.

The Millennium Development Goals aim to dramatically reduce global poverty and boost education, gender equality and health by 2015. But it is becoming apparent most African countries will not meet those targets, often referred to by their initials, MDGs.

"There is a reason to be pessimistic about the MDGs from the point of view that the progress has been slow on some of the goals," U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said late Thursday.

"In spite of the progress that Africa is making we are lagging behind in a number of MDGs and there is a clear indication that in a number of MDGs particularly in areas of health, nutrition and sanitation, Africa will not register significant results as to what we anticipate it should be by 2015," said Erastus Mwencha, deputy chair of the African Union Commission.

Mwencha said the global economic downturn has slowed aid to African nations from developed countries and is partly to blame for the weak performance.

Education is one bright spot in the list of development targets. Many African countries are on track to having 90 percent of children in school, according to a July U.N. report.

But the continent is not on schedule to meet targets to eradicate hunger and poverty, reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, said the report.

Although Africa has achieved economic growth in the past decade, it has failed to reduce poverty and hunger and create adequate jobs, according to the report. The slow progress has been linked to high population growth and persistently high levels of gender and geographical inequalities.

African countries need to prepare for post-2015 challenges, said Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson. African governments must contend with scarce resources and population growth pressure, he said. He also called on the countries to give priority to improving inequality, human rights protections and good governance.

Eliasson spoke at the close of a meeting to devise a post-2015 development agenda for Africa. More than 200 representatives from the United Nations, the African Union Commission, African states and various regional and international institutions attended.