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Tánaiste to attend Millennium Development Goals Summit

By Ann Marie Foley - 24 September, 2013

Some progress reported on MDGs but UN Secretary General warns against complacency.

Millennium Development Goals

Millennium Development Goals

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is to attend the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York on 25 September. 

The summit is taking place as concerns have been expressed about a lack of leadership at the UN in the discussions on a new framework to replace the MDGs in 15 months’ time.

The MDGs aim to achieve goals such as the eradication of extreme poverty and universal primary education. They have had some success since emerging from the Millennium Summit in September 2000.

A recent report published by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon shows that progress has been made in the areas of food, water and education though other areas have not been as good.

In education, nine out of every ten children now goes to school. Many Irish NGOs and missionary orders have been involved in projects aimed at improving access to and standards in education.

One example is the Mavambo Trust in Harare, Zimbabwe which tackles school dropout rates among orphans and vulnerable children.

The Accelerated Literacy and Numeracy programme, which is supported by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and is funded by Misean Cara, is to be rolled out by UNICEF across 600 schools nationwide, meaning 40,000 children will be given a chance to catch up and re-enter mainstream education.

Another achievement according to the UN report is that parity in enrolment between girls and boys has been achieved ahead of the deadline set for 2015. 

The goal to provide safe drinking water has also been reached with 89% of people across the world now having access to it.

However, Ban Ki-moon tempered these details of successes with a word of caution: “Much more needs to be done. For the first time in a long while official development assistance (ODA) has fallen for two consecutive years,” he said.

Dóchas, the umbrella group of Ireland’s Development NGOs, also praised the successes with a note of caution on funding.

“On 25 September, world leaders are likely to conclude that the global ‘recipe’ to make poverty history is working and that the progress should not lead to complacency,” said Hans Zomer, director of Dóchas.

“The UN report shows that aid very definitely works and the work of Irish NGOs and Government are making a lasting impact on the lives of many in poor countries. At the same time it also shows that the progress on Goal 8 (finance, trade and debt sustainability), which is the responsibility of the West, is falling short,” he said.

The Dóchas Budget Submission highlights that for the first time since 2000, Ireland lacks a clear deadline for the achievement of the UN target of 0.7% ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) / GNI (Gross National Income).   

Irish NGOs and missionary societies are among the many organisations involved in innovative projects that are contributing achieving the MDGs worldwide.

For example, Target 8.D aims to deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.

In response to this, Trócaire supports the Demand Food Not Fuel – a campaign to end land grabs for bio-fuels.

Christian Aid Ireland highlights that tax avoidance costs African countries more than they receive in overseas aid. Irish Aid helps improve port facilities in developing countries, to facilitate exports.

A strong hands-on approach has been taken to do something to contribute to solving Target 6.A which aims to have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.

Funded by Misean Cara, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles are running a programme in rural Tanzania providing HIV and AIDS outreach services in 12 villages. They provide HIV testing and life-saving ARVs for hundreds of people.

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