Frequency of Global Poverty and Donor Fatigue

by Bongs Lainjo

In a recent WSJ issue, Ridley wrote a comprehensive and inclusive article on the Millennium  Development Goals (MDGs) and upcoming Strategic Development Goals (SDGs). I do however believe that the article  was quite simplistic, optimistic and generally quite informative.

My believe is that while the MDGs  were timely, necessary, appropriate and inclusive, the goals with respect to intended targets were daunting in terms of realistically achieving them. The intentions may have been quite good but the achieved outcomes were ambitious, unattainable and unrealistic.

Ridley in his optimistic review states that most were achieved: a view that I believe needs further analyses and and more critical and objective inputs. In that regard, I’ll like to believe that the jury is still out! It is indeed true that some progress was made and the quality of life in many parts of the world improved. But the reality is that in most parts of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, successful levels of achievements were disjointed, mixed and inconclusive in several cases. For example  in one UN report of two analyses of Maternal health programs – one  of them belonging to the UN – it was concluded that the outcomes were dismal with nothing to show for the initiatives. This as expected raised more questions about spending billions of dollars in these efforts with nothing to show for them.

And now, according to the UN, the world body is introducing another paradigm change – Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) as part of its development plan – 2016 to 2030. And based on the current updates and as confirmed in Ridley’s article not much has been done in terms of lessons learned; including the absence of relevant and appropriate mitigating factors aimed at minimizing potential risks and unforeseen challenges.

Development unfortunately generally takes place in unfavorable environments – a condition that makes strategic frameworks quite volatile and fluid. It becomes therefore critical to ask if these initiatives are yet another attempt by the UN to promote the World body’s ego,visibility and ubiquity?

We all know that funding is becoming more and more unavailable with donor agencies setting higher bars with endless number of requirements. Above all universal agreements by most donor countries are not even being respected. For example in over five decades, most developed countries agreed on budgeting and allocating 0.07% of their respective GDP to International Aid. The reality  today is that most countries – except some Scandinavian countries and Great Britain –  have come anywhere to these targets. So for the UN to ignore these realities and continue to promote unattainable policies and strategies calls  for more oversight, consensus and accountability.
Bongs Lainjo