On Tuesday evening, four countries-Nepal, Benin, Botswana, and Ethiopia-shared insights from their recent strong progress in reducing maternal mortality. They presented to a packed auditorium at UNICEF in New York.
"Human resources have been the foundation of Nepal's health successes in general, and especially of maternal health successes," said Dr Sudha Sharma, Secretary of Health of Nepal-a country that recently won an "MDG award" for progress on reducing maternal mortality.
Africa's Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation
Yesterday in New York I attended a discussion on infrastructure in Africa. As co-author of the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, I've been talking with people for years about the importance of reliable infrastructure for economic and social activity in Africa. Today we're talking about how infrastructure can help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The core of the MDGs is poverty reduction and improved human development, but how can those goals be met without basic infrastructure to create economic opportunities and support public service delivery? This is a critical question when you think about the facts that 30 Sub-Saharan countries have a power supply crisis, their road freight moves as fast as a horse-drawn cart, and less than 5 percent of agricultural land is irrigated. Although Africa’s infrastructure needs may look daunting, countries like China have shown that it is possible to deliver on the requisite scale.
This week, we’re blogging and tweeting from New York, trying to keep up with the blizzard of events, meetings and talks intended to spur global progress toward achieving the eight development goals agreed to by UN member nations in 2000. You’ll see coverage elsewhere on this blog, as well as on our newly-revamped @worldbank Twitter feed. And we’re only one of many voices online this week talking about the MDGs.
MDG Summit participants were off and running yesterday, speaking, blogging, Tweeting and texting from the main U.N. campus and at several marquee side events nearby.
A high-level “Education for All” advocacy session—focused on MDG 2, to achieve universal primary education—got the ball rolling, with Queen Rania of Jordan and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaking out for universal access to quality schooling.
For Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC), there has been a substantial shift from exporting commodities to advanced economies to trading instead with emerging economies. China, in particular, has become an important destination market, with its share of commodity exports having grown tenfold since 1990 (from 0.8 percent in 1990 to 10 percent of total commodity exports in 2008).
Almost two thirds of developing countries reached gender parity at the primary school level by 2005. Maternal mortality rates have dropped by a third. As many as 76 developing nations are on track to reach the goal of access to safe drinking water.
The statistics tell us there is a clear path to achieving the goals. So in New York, the focus should be on action and the next concrete steps to turning the goals from paper targets to reality. Given a decade has passed, the time for just more talk has also passed.
Malnutrition happens early in life, and we have a critical, 1,000-day window of opportunity between the time before birth, (what we call pre-pregnancy) until the age of two. This is a special time when we can make a huge difference in a child’s life. If we miss that opportunity, we miss an entire generation because the damage that happens in the early months is irreversible. Such damage affects not just the child’s ability to learn, but also his or her ability to become a fully capable and productive citizen.
This morning, 69 million children would not have gone to school around the world. And of those who did, many did not learn what they should have. It is a good thing that education has such energetic champions as Queen Rania of Jordan and Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, both of whom made strong statements today in New York in support of universal access to good-quality education.
“I have one goal—to advocate that every child receives a quality education,” said Queen Rania, who is the co-founder and co-chair of 1Goal , a campaign that was founded with the objective of ensuring that education for all would be a lasting impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Over on the World Bank's climate change blog, Andrew Steer, Special Envoy for Climate Change, notes that the effects of climate change will be felt most acutely by the poor:
There is an old-fashioned view that rich countries can afford to think about climate change but developing countries have more urgent short-term needs. This is well and truly debunked by the evidence of where developing countries are putting their money. Four out of five countries we work with, list climate change among the top priorities for their anti-poverty plans. In the past twelve months, nearly 90% of Country Assistance Strategies requested by developing countries, and approved by the World Bank’s Board, listed climate change as one of the major pillars for World Bank support.