Exploring Post-2015 MDGs Framework
Bojindra Prasad Tulachan
Despite claiming to do something worthwhile in developing countries by 2015, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in essence seems to have indulged in old fashioned versions of international assistance. Halving poverty, ensuring full course of primary education for both boys and girls, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing global partnership for development are in fact highly needy projects for humanity at this moment. The lapse lies in its commercial and geo-political interests to a larger extent and thereby disbursing the aid in the same line than is supposed to.
Three years more to wait and see whether the MDGs are met or not by 2015. Some critics argue that the MDGs are likely to fail in near future not because of the plans and policies made, but because of global economic crisis that hit mostly European donors, whereas others call it a Big Failure of the whole OECD/G7 international assistance system for almost 60 years after the end of the World War II. In this critical hour and almost at the closure of MDGs, what UN is asking the Private Sector as Global Partnership in meeting the MDGs is worthless. No matter how altruistic they are in spirit, general people are likely to get deviated from their involvement, suspecting that they are in one way or the other in pursuit of profit than are supposed to.
Flashing back the history of foreign aid delivery, from infrastructural development to poverty alleviation, OECD/G7 donors have not made significant changes in developing countries except Korea and Taiwan. Most of the aid has been disbursed to middle income countries than the ones they really need for economic growth and development. Poverty alleviation in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s has nothing to do with the real situation of the people in lesser developed countries. Rather, it seems, this plan has further humiliated the recipients than making them involved in the project. The question is whether there has been anything new with MDGs than previous foreign aid projects.
Furthermore, in favor of international aid system, Professor of Economics at Columbia University and the director to MDGs Jeffery D. Sachs in his book entitled ‘The End of Poverty’ believes that once the recipient countries are on the hold of the ladder of development, sooner or later they will have the structural change for economic growth and development (p73). For him this is the most problematic phase and international aid system can help boost the economy of the beneficiary and thereby make employment opportunities, reinvestment and revenue collection.
On the contrary, William Easterly, Professor of Economics at New York University, in his book ‘The White Man’s Burden, questions the whole international aid system, complaining that children are dying of Malaria in Africa due to 12 cent medicines, combating with Malaria for lack of $ 4 a person for a mosquito net and lack of $ 3 to each new mother to prevent child deaths (p4-6). This is for him the Greatest Tragedy as the West has disbursed $ 2.3 trillion for the very project over fifty years, but lapses somewhere between. What he fundamentally focuses on is transparency and accountability of the projects to make them effective and have better outputs in near future.
Dambisa Moyo, the author to Dead Aid, seemingly projects a burning issue on the whole international aid system and its failure in its 50 years of presence in Africa. For her, aid is no more working there because of corrupt government and bureaucracy that have developed a sort of culture to have more and more from the donors than to utilize the amount in the right place (p29). She further complains that the donors have provided the mosquito nets, rather than to promote the mosquito net business in Africa-they are just bailing out than to teach technical knowhow for sustainable economic growth and development (p44). She has a serious concern with donors, World Bank and IMF on tying aid and non-concessional loans vis-a-vis receiving international assistance for lesser developed countries.
However, international assistance in humanitarian affairs and emergency cases has been a tremendous success. To name some of them are food supply to African, Asian and Latin American countries in case of drought and medicine supply to places where there was catastrophe of epidemic diseases. Pacific Tsunami, for an instance, in 2005 mostly hit Indonesia, its neighboring countries to even parts of African countries, leaving huge infrastructural demolishment and loss of lives of innocent people. Massive help during this time by an individual to bigger organizations is remarkably a Big Push in helping the helpless portion of humanity. Plans, policies and the projects made, especially, after the end of the World War II are not bad in themselves. The serious concern now is the mismatch between the objectives and its workouts in practice.
By contrast, BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have come into existence with a different school of thought. Coming up with South-South Cooperation and North-South Cooperation, BRICs are likely to make greater impacts across the globe in matters of international assistance. This has resulted in great debate, discussions and table talks whether they are in true sense working for sustainable economic growth and development in particular regions. What they have committed is no more tying aid, no more geo-political and commercial interests, rather making the projects a cost effective. Short time frame work, transparency and accountability are further the characteristics of the BRICs which OECD/G7 countries lack all the way back to MDGs. This is what has made the center spilt into halves, and might create disputes in the days ahead.
However, it’s not a bad idea of private companies’ willingness in joining the MDGs and its projects. Rather UN itself is actively asking private companies to make their roles as Global Partnership in achieving the goals by 2015. This was what the appeal was made in the 6th Seoul ODA International Conference in coordination with Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) by U.N. representatives on October 11, 2012, Seoul, South Korea. What the fundamental problem is it’s all the way too late. And on the other as some critics argue that MDGs could be influenced to a bigger deal with the direct involvement of the private companies. Who knows they might have their own stand as a Global Partnership in formulating plans and policies and in executing them in practice. There are increasing loop holes whether they work altruistically for a bigger portion of humanity for good or decide things for their own sake- a matter of great concern.
Asking private companies for global partnership in meeting MDGs by 2015 is not solution at the moment. The recent concern is about the intention of execution of the projects rather than its plans and policies. Lack of real connection with the recipients, lack of feedback and lack of research on socio-economic and political reality of the concerned has heralded more criticisms on foreign aid effectiveness. Donors are disbursing the amount in one way or the other and the recipients are just receiving them as if this is taken for granted. What matters right now is the exploration of newer approaches in making international assistance more effective and result-oriented!
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