Are We There Yet? Countdown To 2015

by Golda Olanrewaju

April 5, 2013 marked the 1000 days to the 2015 targeted date for the Millennium Development Goals. The MDG’s are a set of eight time bound goals drafted in September 2000 by world leaders to address challenges facing the world’s poorest people. The goals ranged from significantly eradicating poverty to Achieving universal primary education, Promoting gender equality and empowering women, Reducing child mortality rate, Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, Ensuring environmental sustainability and Promoting global partnership for development.

As the UN Secretary General aptly said:

“The MDG’s are the most successful global anti-poverty push in history. The goals have helped set global and national priorities, mobilize action and achieve remarkable results”

“The Millennium Development Goals provide an urgent ‘to-do’ list to address many of humanity’s biggest and most important challenges. Since their creation, the global community has mobilized around these common goals to drive incredible progress that is improving lives around the world. More children are reaching their 5thbirthday, fewer people are living in crushing poverty, and as many girls attend primary school as boys.

“Today’s milestone is an opportunity for everyone who cares about creating a more just world to take action in support of the United Nations and the MDGs. What we do over the next 1,000 days matters to millions of people. As MDG Advocates, we are dedicated to doing everything we can to help drive further progress. Let’s seize the next 1,000 days to change lives and chart a course for a brighter future for our world.

“The achievements we make through the MDGs will inspire people around the globe to continue the journey toward a poverty-free world that values health and dignity for all men and women.” the UN Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group

To mark this milestone, I decided to see how Nigeria as a nation is doing. How close are we to achieving these goals? In order to answer this unbiased, I took a thorough look at the 8 MDG goals reviewed our results, the strides we’ve made in the past 13 years since its enactments using data from United Nations, UNICEF, World Health Organization and OAU. Having viewed all the data, I came to this conclusion; surprisingly, we’ve made measurable progress in certain areas whilst some sectors were significantly lacking. Howbeit, my goal in this article is to celebrate our successes, recognize our weaknesses and improve on them.

The most significant, recordable and staggering change was in the Maternal Mortality ratio. In 1990, for every 100,000 live births, 1,100 mothers were dying. By 2010, we had drastically cut this number to 630. Deliveries assisted by skilled attendants increased simultaneously. We could confidently link the drop in maternal death to availability of skilled practitioners considering the fact that hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death. Having said this, I would like to recognize the “Personal Health Record” program initiated by Mrs. Toyin Saraki of Wellbeing Foundation Africa. This was a program developed in conjunction with Federal Ministry of Health to ensure every mother has a personal health record from the time of conception and first visit to doctor to the time of birth. The main focus is on increasing both child and mother’s survival rates. This record is now been used in 7 states in Nigeria and hopefully it would be universally adopted in all states in Nigeria. Following the sharp decline in maternal death was also a reduction in both under 5 and infants 0-1 deaths. It would be shocking to know that in 1990, out of every 100 births, 214 children were dying before the age of 5 and 127 before the age of 1, but by 2011, the numbers had dropped significantly to 124 for under 5 and 78 for infants 0-1.

The first MDG was to eradicate poverty by 2015. This has been a great challenge considering the downward turn in the global economy and although extreme poverty has successfully been cut in half since 1990 yet we still have over 870 million people worldwide remaining hungry. Poverty eradication was one goal that we as a nation seriously lagged behind. However, in spite of how bad this looks, we have to take into consideration the continued increase in the cost of living and decrease in the standard of living worldwide. In the United States, the unemployment rate has been at an all-time high since September 2002 at 5.8% to 10% in September 2009 and now 7.6% in 2013.

In Nigeria, between 1990 and 2010, there was significant increase in the poverty level, the percentage of people living at an income of less than $1 a day sharply increased from 61.9% in 1999 to 68.0% in 2010. The total population below national poverty line rose from 34.1% in 1990 to 54.7% in 2004 with a poverty gap ratio from 31.1% in 1992 to 33.7% in 2010. One good thing to note is that the prevalence of underweight children dropped sharply in Nigeria from 35.1% in 1990 to 26.7% in 2008. Undernourished population equally dropped from the double digit percentile to 8.5% in 2011.

The second and third MDGs targeted education. Whilst the former aimed at ensuring that by 2015, children everywhere: boys and girls will be able to complete a full course of primary education, the latter targeted empowering women through education and promoting gender equality. Primary school enrollment increased from 72.7% in 2002 to 79.9% in 2009, however the completion rate dropped from 77.2% to 74.4%. Literacy ratio has consistently increased from 69.0% in 2003 to 72.1% in 2010 and particularly thrilling is the Adult literacy ratio (the percentage of people 65 and over who can read and write) at 61%.

UNICEF, Division of Policy and Practice, Statistics and Monitoring Section,, May 2008, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, global databases, 2011, based on administrative data

The share of women in wage employment in non-agricultural sector has significantly increased also but the seats held by women in national parliament have been on a steady decline. How do we narrow this gap? How do we get our women more involved and how do we bridge the gap of gender inequality?

In the next 1000 days, I would suggest that our government focus on our challenges and seek ways of improving them. Increased effort in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria should be encouraged also even though through the help of international organizations working alongside every grassroots effort, we have more people receiving lifesaving medicines for these diseases with fewer people dying from them.

Issues like basic sanitation should be addressed. How do we get clean drinking water to everyone and reduce the outbreak of water borne diseases like Cholera? How can we get to EVERYONE (not a selected few) working toilet facilities and latrines? How will our government reduce the widening gap in delivering crucial aid to those who need it? How can we help our farmers in the Northern region experiencing drought? This is an inclusive effort for everyone.

“While we’ve made great strides forward, our work is not done. Now is the time to build on the momentum we’ve started to reach families and communities that have been left behind.”
The Millennium Advocacy Group

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