Tuesday, May 15, 2007
WILL MDGs DEVELOP MALAWI ? BY PEARSON NKHOMA
It is no longer a myth that poverty is the greatest challenge of development world wide. Strategies to eradicate poverty have been put in places ever since the time of colonialization. Hard to believe is the fact that poverty is denying to die out. As for Malawi, poverty is not only increasing, but deepening. The latest report of the UN indicate that Malawi is one of the poorest nations in the world. It is ranked 11th of the poorest countries. This is despite the number of strategies being carried, nationally and beyond, so as to remove the country out of its crisis. As asserted, many strategies have been put in place to eradicate poverty world over. Of late, the most common of the strategies are the International Goals which were set up in 1996, which were put in practice in 2000. These goals, now known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), were set up with a target of halving poverty by 2015. MDGs comprises of 8 goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators. Malawi is among the UN member states which are signatories of the MDGs. But its now six years down the line and no significant traits of change of development can be traced. Malawi is now poorer that the time it was attaining independence from the colonialists in the 1964. additionally and sad to note is that Malawi is now ten times poorer that it were a decade ago. With an aim of achieving the MDGs by the set time, the UN organized the first ever Global Leadership Summit for the Youth on MDGs, last year in October. The aim behind the summit was to allow the youth leaders discuss ways of accelerating the achievement of the MDGs by 2015. One of the students, Terence Malamulo was selected by National Youth Council (NYC), with the support of UNFPA, to represent the youths of Malawi at the summit. At the end of this summit Terence Malamulo was appointed to be Malawi’s UN MDG Ambassador, similarly to other delegates. When contacted by Chanco Pride, Terence confided that even though the path’s future looks gloomy for the country, there are still some tangible achievements that cannot be left without being appreciated. An MDG-support team has been formed to assist the project of the ambassador and to help other youth mainstream the MDGs in their existing projects and technical meeting with the government officials from the Ministries of Youth, Sports and Culture and Ministry of Economic Planning and Development; NYC and UNFPA. He also indicated that much as the song is worthy dancing, Malawi as a country has a daunting task at hand. Malawi as a nation itself needs to do something if it is to rise to development base. One of the ways is through involving the youths as Malamulo observes: “The youths comprise a larger percentage of the Malawian population and the whole world that’s why an emphasis is well put on them as non investment in them now will be grievous mistake that shall be beyond remedy.” The utmost remedy that Malawi should advocate for is the strong civic education aimed at changing people’s mindset. In December to February the MDG Support Team was working in Salima, NkhataBay, Karonga , Mchinji ,Chikwawa, Mangochi, and Dedza as mentors in the MDG Mentorship Programme, in scaling up SHR/HIV/AIDS services project called TIYENI. The aim was to inspire other youths in these district to take up the individual national development responsibilities. The team had interacted with the Chiefs T/As, Government officials , parents, youths in and out of the school with an objective of supporting the people on the ways to develop their communities and to establish links between the youths and parents as well as decision makers as the part of MDG achievement campaign. “Malawi can develop if and only if the meaning of the vision and means to develop are well shared among young people by first accepting the youth to actively participate and lead development programmes and through well articulated policies and structures at all levels of the development interaction: emphasis should be pressed on follow up activities on the developed policies.” Malamulo says with a basis that the youth constitute a majority population group of the country. But will MDGs ever eradicate poverty? The most basic question, however, that remain unanswered in the development sphere is that “will the quest of the MDGs and its attainment by 2015 eradicate all poverty facets, hence hurt development in the country?” It should, therefore, be pin-pointed here that the rationale for setting up poverty reduction goals seems to be simple and straightforward. Malawi had had different goals and policies put in place ever since the one party era. New goals improved from the processionals ones keep mushrooming, yet poverty in the country keep deepening. This follows that it still remains in theory only that the MDGs will accelerate development. The MDGs have also been criticized because they view the poor as a single homogeneous group whose prime problem is low monetary income. This is far from truth since different people lack different basic needs. What this means is that MDGs’ conceptualization make it possible, not only to seek simple solutions, but also do weaken poverty analysis, hence ends up distorting development strategies. Above all, the basis of measuring success based on reducing visible signs of poverty like low income, diseases, the MDGs focus on symptoms rather than causes of such problems. In brief, the MDGs are to simplicity in nature which may result into distortion of what development strategies ought to be like. This may result in resource misallocation. Evidence is also there that shows derailed means in development. This includes over 75% of the Malawians who do not know what development is all about and some of the frameworks for supporting development, high perception of the development role and responsibilities are being for the government, employment of unskilled or untrained personnel for a particular job, higher corruption in communities which weaken rule of law justice and no partnership in communities in development initiatives. All in all, the MDGs will remain an utopian concept unless Malawians, who are the subjects are encouraged to take part in development arena. This is what the supporting team is trying to achieve. For the time being, attainment of the MDGs will not accelerate development in the country. however, idealistic the MDGS may be, if followed with action, they will drive malawi development into a higher level as the goals have a motivation plea. the awareness or knowledge about the MDGs alone will not help the copuntry in any way.