A country in coma

As a whirlpool, the crisis that has been lasting for the past 5 years has hit Italy hard in 2012. The country was put under the "technical” government of Mario Monti, who acted as a commissioner and subjected Italy to a shock therapy of austerity policies, similar to the structural adjustment programs imposed by the IMF. While intended to reanimate the economy, it plunged the country into a real recession under the blackmail of two parameters: the "spread" between Italy and Germany, and the Public Debt, which has grown another 10%, reaching 127,3% of the GNP (3rd quarter of 2012, according to Eurostat). It is not by chance that the Prime Minister Mario Monti has been International Advisor to Goldman Sachs.

Social Watch Italy*

As a whirlpool, the crisis that has been lasting for the past 5 years has hit Italy hard in 2012.
The country was put under the "technical” government of Mario Monti, who acted as a commissioner and subjected Italy to a shock therapy of austerity policies, similar to the structural adjustment programs imposed by the IMF. While intended to reanimate the economy, it plunged the country into a real recession under the blackmail of two parameters: the "spread" between Italy and Germany, and the Public Debt, which has grown another 10%, reaching 127,3% of the GNP (3rd quarter of 2012, according to Eurostat). It is not by chance that the Prime Minister Mario Monti has been International Advisor to Goldman Sachs.

The deterioration of the living conditions of a large part of the Italian population concerned especially the "working poor": in Italy, according to OECD data, they are three million, about 15% of the total employed, compared to 10% in Denmark or 6% in Sweden. Eight million Italians live with less than one thousand euro per month. The crisis has seriously damaged the middle class.

Almost 30% of the resident population in Italy, according to Istat data, risks poverty or social exclusion, +6.3 % compared to 2010 (which is higher than the European average of 24.2%); the incidence of poverty increases especially in families with many children (Caritas Report 2012). The inequality between rich and poor has widened, with 20% of earners who receive 37.4% of the total income, and 20% of the poorest who get only 8%. The Bank of Italy, in its latest study on estates, reveals that the richest 10 italians own as much as the poorest 3 million. Furthermore, according to Coldiretti, in 12 months, the proportion of Italians who cannot afford an adequate full meal at least every two days, has doubled (now 12.3%).

The year 2012 has recorded a loss of 4 million jobs (ILO) and the closure of more than 100.000 companies (25% more than in 2011). Some entrepreneurs have even committed suicide. The officially registered unemployed rose to 2.875 million - with an official unemployment rate of 11.2% (compared to 9.4% of the previous year - 20% more), and youth unemployment rose to 36.6% with peaks over 50% in southern Italy (11% is the average in Europe). The increased insecurity and undeclared work have affected especially the younger generations. The hours of extraordinary redundancy payment almost doubled compared to January 2012: from 21,4 to 42.2 million euro (+97%).

All these negative data show a country that is falling down, and in this context, from a country sponsoring the MDGs, it could start benefitting from them as well.

2015 and after: another option for the fight against poverty after the MDGs?

Italian civil society is involved in the process promoted by the United Nations for the establishment of a new perspective and new commitments beyond 2015, mainly through the Italian GCAP, a coalition representing more than 60 organizations (NGO, Third sector, trade unions,) and that is part of the international initiative "Beyond 2015".

The first step in 2013 consists of a national consultation process, which aims to influence the official position that Italy will bring in the UN and in Europe. The UN meeting in September 2013 will begin the process of defining a new framework of commitment and global actions for the development and the fight against poverty, replacing the current goals.

On a national level the consultation between institutions and civil society could be an opportunity to give the country a role in the definition of the European position. Hopefully, the process Beyond 2015 will be an opportunity to build a new era of development and cooperation policies, that could be taken up by the new government.

Italy is unfortunately very far from contributing to its European commitments. Although many of Italian cooperation projects relate to the achievement of the Goals, in particular those on education, food security and health, no official reports have been made to evaluate what has been achieved by the Italian Cooperation for the MDGs.

Over the past four years Italy, is the only donor that has not paid its share of the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (around € 130 million per year), thus not participating, despite the promises made by the Berlusconi (G8 L'Aquila, 2011) and Monti (who did not include it in the Stability law for 2013) governments.

New perspectives for a relaunch of the Italian ODA

In 2012, Italy resulted as the bottom of the league in the EU-15, with with a ODA ratio below 0.20%: the ODA was reduced by 92 million of euro, 51% more than the already meagre funds of 2011. NGOs reported: "A country without development cooperation is a country with no prospect of recovery for the future."

The Minister for International Cooperation and Integration, Andrea Riccardi, a new post established by the Monti Government, took up the challenge and opened dialogue with ngos, institutions, universities and the nonprofit world, calling for an Inter-institutional table. This step was shared and participated by many stakeholders to identify tools and practices of our international solidarity in a systemic framework. In October 2012, Riccardi set up a Forum of Milan, which for a short time brought international cooperation at the center of foreign politics. The guidelines of Italian ODA for 2013 identify Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East as priority areas in support of the fight against poverty, of the strengthening of democratic processes, peace and dialogue.

Thanks to this positive climate, the work to re-draft the law on Development Cooperation was initiated, but it stopped right away with the anticipated end of the Legislation. Civil society will watch over so that the next government will enhance the path initiated by the new Minister, supported by an appropriate new law.

Drastic cuts in social spending. Increases in military spending

In a context of strong and generalized reduction of public spending, of resources available to the ministries and for services to citizens, thanks to the Spending Review and the Stability (pact) law, the Ministry of Defense, from 2013 to 2015, scored an increase in its budget. Twenty-five times higher than that of social policies – the defense budget passes from 19.962 billion in 2012 to 20,935 in 2013, up to 21.024 billion euro in 2015, significantly increasing the resources at its disposal. In addition, while all ministries reduced investment spending, the government confirmed for 2013 the Italian participation in the purchase of 90 airplane fighters F35 - whose total cost amounts to approximately € 14 billion in 15 years - and of two submarines U212 and two FREMM frigates, with a cost in 2012 of about 800 million euro. This growth in the Defense budget indicate the will of the Italian government to follow the path of "military Keynesianism", through the use of public spending in this sector to stimulate domestic demand for consumption and investment.

Environment and energy: disappointing politics, a mortgaged country

In the area of environmental policies and public works, the Monti government has tried to use the EU funds for the development of the South of Italy, stimulating small and medium-sized public works (construction of schools, hydrogeological instability of the territory). Nevertheless, at the end of 2012, the final decision to cancel the construction of the bridge between Calabria (mainland) and Sicily Island (€ 8.5 billion, more than half a point of the Italian GDP, for a useless public work, with a negative cost-benefit calculation) was postponed, the future of the South of Italy.

While the French Court of Auditors pointed to the Hollande Government that the high-speed train line Turin-Lyon, with a cost of 26 billion euro, is not validated by transport studies and financial credibility, the Monti Government has pushed for a political agreement with Hollande to revive the project, notwithstanding strong citizen opposition.

Finally, regarding Italy's energy policies, the Ministry of Economic Development Corrado Passera, after a long wait of 20 years, presented in November 2012 a National Energy Strategy. It is very disappointing because it has a very short breath (only 8 years) and it does not identify the strengths and solution towards a policy of exit hydrocarbon dependancy. Indeed the "strategy" is pointing to the "resumption of sustainable production of national hydrocarbons" (though Italian oil is scarce and of low quality: Italy extracts 0.1% of the world's oil) and to the maintenance of carbon research stations, turning the peninsula into a European hub for the distribution of gas.

Pension and labour reforms

The Monti government has worked since inception on two major reforms.
The pension reform, which was approved in early December of 2011 (enforced since 2012), has established a flexible retirement age, increased to 62 years old for women with a range that covers up to 70 years old, while for men the range of flexibility is between 66 and 70 years old. The urgency with which the measure was launched has created a serious problem for the hundreds of thousands of workers who, under the previous retirement age, agreed with and encouraged by their companies for early resignation from work in 2012; in fact, they were a response to the employment crisis reported by the companies themselves. Out of all this the phenomenon of "esodati" (income deprived early retirees) burst out- estimated at around 350,000 workers - who, without warning, found themselves suddenly without a job and no pension, therefore with no income. The government was totally unprepared to intervene. The reform will, however, have its real effects in 2013. From the 1st of January 2013, in fact, many of the measures to lengthen the stay at work on one side and to reduce the amount of welfare checks on the other, due to the method of calculating contributions and the adjustment of the coefficients of conversion, will become effective.

As far as the reform of the labor market - Law no. 92 of 28 June 2012 – it is early to make an assessment. The areas on which the new law insists are the entry and exit ways in the labor market. Following the discussions on rights and principles (eg. the suppression or reform of Article 18, against unjust layoffs), which has animated as well as divided the Italian unions, there have been no significant and official feedbacks on the implementation of the reform.

Migration control agreements between Italy and Libya

Italy has considered as a top priority the strengthening of borders, at the expense of its international obligations related to protecting refugees and asylum-seekers and saving life at sea and has strengthened its control measures over the border, regardless of the human costs. In 2012 almost 2000 men, women and children have drowned in the Mediterranean sea trying to reach Europe. On several occasions, Italy has pushed back people to Libya, where they were then arrested and subjected to ill-treatment.

Although this practice has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 (case Hirsi vs Italy) and despite substantial public evidence that migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers still face serious abuse in Libya, on 3 April 2012 Italy signed a new agreement with Libya on migration control. Amnesty International repeatedly asked the Italian authorities to make the content of the agreement public but the requests went unheeded. The text of the agreement was leaked to the Italian press on 18 June. The provisions in the agreement confirm that Italian authorities seek support from Libya in stemming migration flows, while turning a blind eye to the fact that migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are at real risk of serious human rights violations and abuses there. Through the agreement, Libya commits itself to strengthening control over its borders to prevent “unauthorized” departures from its territory, and Italy commits itself to providing training and equipment to enhance “border surveillance”. However, apart from a tokenistic mention of human rights, there is no indication of any concrete measures to prevent human rights violations and abuses from occurring in the context of this cooperation.

Italy must ensure adequate protection for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers and adopt fair immigration and asylum policies, including by granting access to the territory and fair and effective asylum procedures for people in need of international protection. The Italian Government should set aside any existing migration control agreements with Libya and it should not enter into any further agreements with Libya until the latter is able to demonstrate that it respects and protects the human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants and has in place a satisfactory system for assessing and recognizing claims for international protection.

* Jason Nardi (Social Watch Italy coordinator), Riccardo Moro e Francesco Petrelli (Italian Coalition against poverty-Oxfam Italy), Sabina Siniscalchi (Fondazione culturale responsabilità etica), Silvia Stilli (Arcs-Arci)], Federica Corsi (Oxfam Italy), Andrea Baranes (005 Campaign), Emilia Blasi (Arcs), Laura Renzi (Amnesty International), Soana Tortora (Solidarius Italia), Stefano Lenzi (WWF Italy) – Carmela Guarascio (Univ. Calabria).


Ilva: work vs health

The ownership of Ilva (ex Italsider), the largest steel industry in Italy, and the third largest in Europe, based in the city of Taranto, has been accused for manslaughter and environmental disaster, poisoning of food substances, intentional omission of precautions against accidents, damage of public goods, spills of dangerous substances and pollution.

In 2012, the experts appointed by the Public Prosecutor’s office of Taranto, counted a total of 11.550 deaths, mostly for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The report has assessed the correlation between the very high pollution, caused by Ilva, and the health damage provoked to workers' and inhabitants health.

The seizure of the plant puts at risk thousands of jobs. A Citizens' committee has asked for the stop to the "threat of unemployment" and the depredation of the Ionian area. The Citizens' committee does not accept the opposition "work vs health", because this dichotomy alters the reality of the situation of Taranto.

Meanwhile, the government tries to prevent the stop of production. The Minister of Environment, Corrado Clini, made a decree granting the right of use for the plant, which had been seized by the Judiciary on July 26, 2012 - thus neglecting to protect the health of citizens and workers and following the logic of profit over rights.



Italian Financial Transaction Tax

After years of denial, a financial transactions tax was introduced in December 2012. The Italian FTT however presents some gaps that significantly reduce its effectiveness in contrasting speculation, disappointing the expectations of the Campaign “ZeroZeroCinque”, which promoted it. The corrective measures are about the enlargement of the tax base to all derivative instruments; the review of exemptions; the application of the tax to individual transactions to discourage high-frequency trading; use the proceeds to domestic social politics, to international development cooperation and combating climate change. This could be a first political step to regulate the finance, but it is not enough. It is disappointing that the Government and Parliament have not been more courageous and ambitious in its definition, yielding to the interests of financial lobbies.

Corrections and enhancements are then delegated to the new legislature and to the Government that will take office in 2013. It will be also responsible for advancing the important process to an enhanced cooperation between the EU and 11 countries, which began in 2012 at the European level. It will come out with the introduction of a European FTT.



Achieving the MDGs: Progress and Challenges

This report tracks the extent to which Zambia is making progress towards achieving the MDGs focuses on Goals 1 to 7 and assesses Zambia’s national development plans, the main tools for achieving economic and human development, particularly the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP). It also analyses problems in the way the MDGs are formulated, arguing that unless these are taken care of, the human development conditions of countries such as Zambia will remain poor for a long time. Finally, it makes proposals for post 2015 reform.

Emily Joy Sikazwe (Executive Director)
Women For Change

This report tracks the extent to which Zambia is making progress towards achieving the MDGs focuses on Goals 1 to 7 and assesses Zambia’s national development plans, the main tools for achieving economic and human development, particularly the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP). It also analyses problems in the way the MDGs are formulated, arguing that unless these are taken care of, the human development conditions of countries such as Zambia will remain poor for a long time. Finally, it makes proposals for post 2015 reform.

At the launch of the MDGs in 2000, Zambia’s human development indicators were weak, owing to the steady deterioration of the economic and social conditions since the mid-1970s, when prices of its main produce copper fell on the world market. From the late 1980s and 1990s Zambia implemented the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund inspired Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), under which significant cuts to public expenditure were applied, considerably weakening delivery of social services in the health, education and other sectors. This period is also when the HIV and AIDS pandemic hit Zambia the hardest.

After the deterioration in the 1990s, there has been a slight improvement in Zambia’s human development ranking: from 0.35 in 2000 to 0.395 in 2010, putting it at 150 out of 169 countries. Despite progress, human development is still low, and some of the goals will not be met. For the period 2006-2009 Zambia’s economy grew at an average of 6.1% per annum. Yet these gains have not been felt by the most vulnerable sections of society.

MDG 1: Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Extreme poverty has been on the decline, falling from 58% in 1991 to 51% in 2006. Extreme poverty in rural areas declined from 81% in 1991 to 67 % in 2006 while in urban areas it declined from 32 % in 1991 to 20% in 2006. However, the pace of change has been too slow to enable Zambia meet the target of 29% by 2015. The prevalence of children under the age of five who are underweight fell from 25.1% in 1992 to 14.6% in 2007, although stunting in children remains an area of major concern. To reach the target of 12.5% of underweight children under five, efforts will have to be greatly intensified.

MDG 2: Achieving Universal Primary Education

Net enrolment at primary education level increased from 80% in 1990 to 102% in 2009. The rate of pupils completing primary education rose from 64% in 1990 to 91.7% in 2009. However, major challenges remain with adult literacy, which fell from 79% in 1990 to 70% in 2004. Other challenges are the low completion rates at secondary school level despite the increase from 14.4% in 2002 to 19.4% in 2009. Tertiary education remains inaccessible to most and is poorly funded. At 1 to 57, the primary-teacher–pupil ratio is above the recommended standard.

MDG 3: Promoting Gender Equality and the Empowerment of women

The ratio of girls to boys in primary education improved from 0.90 in 1990 to 0.96 in 2009. The 2015 target will be met. However challenges abound with secondary, tertiary education and literacy rates. In secondary schools the ratio of girls to boys decreased from 0.92 in 1990 to 0.88 in 2009. The ratio of girls to boys in tertiary education stood at 0.74 and for the ratio of literate women to men between the ages of 15-24 years old stood at 0.8.

Affirmative action, early marriages, teenage pregnancies and social and cultural attitudes and practices that undermine girls and women’s participation in public life all face huge challenges. For example, before the September 2011 elections, women’s representation in Parliament stood at 14%, but thereafter declined to 11%. In terms of employment in the formal economy, males accounted for 71%, compared to 29 % for females.

MDG 4: Reducing Child Mortality

The number of deaths to under-five children dropped from 190 per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 119 in 2007. But this remains high and considerably far from reaching the 2015 target of 63.6%. Similarly, while infant mortality declined from 107.2 per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 70 in 2007, this is far from the 2015 target of 37.5.

To accelerate progress towards these targets, greater effort will need to be exerted in increasing access to skilled birth attendance, mother’s education, nutrition for mother and child, child immunization and prevention of common childhood diseases.

MDG 5: Improving Maternal Health

Maternal mortality decreased from 649 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1996 to 591 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007, again far from the 2015 target of 162. Investment is needed to increase the number of trained mid-wives at birth, install basic health infrastructure and improve roads and transport systems, especially in rural areas, to ensure pregnant women get to health centres on time.

MDG 6: Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases

The number of people tested for HIV increased from 234, 430 in 2006 to 1,050,000 in 2008. The prevalence of HIV declined from 16% in 2002 to 14.3 % in 2007. In 2009, HIV incidence was estimated at 1.6 % or 82,000 new infections. The number of people on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) increased from 30,112 in 2005 to 283,863 in 2009.

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV is a big challenge. Only 47% of pregnant women deliver their babies at health facilities, which presents immense challenges to ensuring completion of treatment to prevent transmission. More than 75% of the antenatal care facilities currently provide PMTCT services, but the majority of these facilities are mostly along the country’s main rail line and urban centres. Rural areas are inadequately covered.

While the indicators pertaining to HIV and AIDS are nevertheless on course to being met, much more effort is required to meet the indicators on malaria, a major cause of illness and death in both children and adults. The number of new malaria cases declined from 412 in 2006 to 252 in 2008. The tuberculosis notification rate decreased from 419 per 100,000 in 2007 to 408 per 100,000 in 2008.

MDG 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability

The proportion of households without access to safe water declined from 51% in 1991 to 40% in 2006. The share of those without sanitation increased from 26% in 1991 to 36.1% in 2006.

Assessing the effectiveness of the National Development Plans

Zambia’s first national development plan was the transitional national plan (1964-1966). Several more followed until 1993 when national development planning was abandoned as the country focused on implementing the SAP and developing the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers which many argued represented an effort by the World Bank and IMF to impose neo-liberal economic policies on poor countries. Beginning in 2006 these resumed, with the Fifth National Development Plan-FNDP (2006- 2010) and the current Sixth National Development Plan-SNDP (2011- 2015).

In terms of performance, the 2009 Annual Progress Report on the Implementation of the FNDP found that in 2006, slightly over half of the targets set were met. This figure dropped to 38.4% in 2008, then recovered slightly to 38.7% in 2009. The number of indicators which sectors have not reported on went up considerably over the same period. The report concluded that this may be a sign that the sectors are opting not to report, rather than confirm targets have been missed.

A mid-term evaluation of the FNDP was undertaken by the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) in 2008. The evaluation assessed a number of pro-poor programmes including agriculture, education and health. Some of the conclusions include:

  • The agriculture sector had not performed well enough to ensure food security, income generation, creation of employment opportunities and reduction in poverty levels. Performance in the education sector has shown steady improvement: for instance, the number of teachers being recruited has increased, although an acute shortage of teachers remains in rural and remote area schools.
  • In contrast to primary education, high school education faces greater challenges. The quality of high school education has not benefited from the same level of investment as basic education, resulting in deterioration in the quality of education in high schools.”
  • The health sector also faces important challenges. Human resource availability remains far below the recommended levels. In addition the health care system faces a lack of drugs, medical equipment and basic infrastructure. Therefore, the poor, especially those in rural areas, continue to suffer poor access to health care services. The incidence of diseases and mortality rates still remains high.

Gaps in the MDGs

The problem that countries are experiencing with the MDGs is that they are both minimalist and quantitative, failing to assess quality. For example, in the education sector, the good rates of primary school enrolment and completion hide the poor quality of education that many children receive, especially in terms of reading, writing and arithmetic. According to a study by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ), Zambian pupils have ranked among the worst in the region in mathematics and reading skills.

Because of the need for measurable targets, the goal of gender equality ignores many of the most critical issues women face, notably gender based violence (GBV) which is increasing in Zambia and negatively affecting human development. Despite the enactment of the Anti-GBV Act in 2011, there was an increase in reported cases. Rural areas are disproportionately affected by the lack of a mechanism to deal with issues of rape and defilement such as the presence of doctors to certify the incidences.

Inequalities are also growing between those benefiting from economic growth and those left out. The Gini coefficient, increased from 0.64 in 2001 and 2004 to 0.67 in 2008. The gains from general economic growth in the country are not helping close the inequality gap.

Similarly, although Zambia is well endowed in natural resources, it struggles with the management of its environment and few people have benefitted from the extractive industries. An example is the mining sector, which has been the major contributor to Zambia’s economy as a major employer, export and earner of foreign exchange. In recent years the industry has experienced new buoyancy. Due to tax incentives and holidays, the mining companies’ contribution to the treasury and overall development of the country is quite low despite historically high international copper prices. There is little transparency and accountability for the resources which government is receiving from the taxes and royalties generated.

The phenomenon of granting large tracts to foreign investors also known as “land grabs” is growing and more and more people are being displaced from their ancestral lands. According to Olivier De Schutter, the Special Rapporteur for the UN on the Right to Food, private investors and governments have shown growing interest in the acquisition or long-term lease of large portions of arable land in countries, mostly in the developing world. An estimate from International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) shows between 15 and 20 million hectares of farmland in developing countries have been subject to transactions or negotiations involving foreign investors since 2006. Zambia is a among the main target countries.

The impact of this on food security and other areas of human development are profound. Post 2015, issues pertaining to extraction must be addressed, or the opportunity for local communities to benefit from the exploitation of their natural resources may be lost forever.

In terms of the contribution of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to the national budget, the trend has been towards reduction. In the 2013 national budget, 76.8% of expenditure will be financed through domestic revenues, 4.6% will be financed from grants from ODA, while the balance of 18.4% will be raised from external and domestic borrowing.

This is positive in many respects as it means the Government must now focus on internal accountability to its citizens. Yet, accountability remains an area of weakness. Year after year the Auditor-General reports many cases of abuse, misuse and misapplication of colossal sums of money in the public service. But very little action is taken against the perpetrators. There is need to put in place measures to guarantee citizen participation such as effective decentralization.


Out of the 22 indicators reported on in the 2011 MDG progress report, only 6 (27%) are on track to being met, 12 (54%) need to be accelerated in order to be met and 4 (18%) will not be met. This suggests that the developments efforts are insufficient to meet the MDGs. Further, the fact that MDG 6 on HIV and AIDS is the only goal likely to be met suggests that global support, such as through the Global Fund on AIDS, Malaria and TB, is critical.

Clearly, post 2015 development goals and targets must be less minimalist and quantitative. Human development also requires looking beyond economic growth to the nature and impact of that growth especially on the poor.


UNDP Zambia, Human Development Report 2011: Service Delivery for Sustainable Human Development, Lusaka, 2011.

Ministry of Finance, Republic of Zambia, Annual Progress Report, Sixth National Development Plan, Lusaka, June 2012.

UNDP Zambia, Millennium Development Goals Progress Report 2011.





SADC Gender Protocol 2012 Barometer – Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance, 2012.

UNDP Zambia, HDR 2011.

UNDP Zambia, HDR 2011.


Alastair Fraser, “Poverty reduction strategy papers: Now who calls the shots?” Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 32, no. 104-105, 2005.

CSPR, Mid-term Evaluation of the FNDP, Lusaka, November 2008.

SACMEQ Policy Issues Series #2, September 2010. Available at: www.sacmeq.org

Ministry of Finance, Annual Progress Report, Sixth National Development Plan, June 2012.

Olivier De Schutter - Large-scale land acquisitions and leases: eleven principles to address the human rights challenge,” Briefing Note, 11 June 2009.

2013 Budget Address by Minister of Finance, 2013 Budget Address. Available at: www.zra.org.zm/Budget.php.


Are MDGs an adequate mean to end poverty?

Is Bangladesh responsible for its fate? <br> “The morality of global warming or climate change, or environmental degradation, is really quite simple. it steals from future generations, it penalises the poor, it is exaggerated by greed, it puts diversity at risk. Environmental pollution hurts all of life; it is in the interest of every living thing for human beings to do something about it”-Bishop George Browning, Convenor of the Anglican Communion Environment Network (2007).

Zahid Rahman and Choyon Kumar Saha, Unnayan Shamannay,
Md. Mujibul Haque Munir EquityBD

Is Bangladesh responsible for its fate?

“The morality of global warming or climate change, or environmental degradation, is really quite simple. it steals from future generations, it penalises the poor, it is exaggerated by greed, it puts diversity at risk. Environmental pollution hurts all of life; it is in the interest of every living thing for human beings to do something about it”-Bishop George Browning, Convenor of the Anglican Communion Environment Network (2007).[1]

According to the World Risk Report-2012 of the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), the Alliance Development Works and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Bangladesh is one of the most natural disaster prone countries in the world, occupying the 5th position among 173 countries. Bangladesh scores 63.78 percent in vulnerability, 86.84 and 61.03 percent in lack of coping and adaptive capacities respectively[2]. Risk of natural hazards along with others (e.g. social, economic and technological) is gradually amplifying, and worsening the human conditions of more and more people in all parts of the country, frequently affected by tropical cyclones, flood, drought and earthquakes. Climate change impacts affect achieving the MDGs of Bangladesh, particularly Goal One – eradicating poverty and hunger. Climate change is likely to directly impact the poor’s livelihoods in many ways, their assets and resources, their employment, income, access to water and natural resources. The poor in Bangladesh will face more food insecurity, water stress and health problems because of the rapidly changing climate that also undermines significantly the efforts to reduce poverty.[3]

But a huge question can be raised here: if Bangladesh is lagged behind in achieving the MDGs due to climate change, who will be held responsible? Is Bangladesh itself responsible for this phenomenon? The answer is nowadays very well known and scientifically accepted: through their accumulated high level of carbon emissions, historically and presently, developed countries have created climate change. Bangladesh is not responsible for it, even when it is severely impacted by global warming.


Accomplishments in MDGs

Despite the continuous mounting of climate risk and Bangladesh’s struggle against unpredictable environmental challenges, the country has achieved remarkable progresses in some areas of the MDGs, particularly in primary schooling, gender parity in primary and secondary level education, decreasing extreme poverty, lowering the infant, child and maternal mortality, improving immunization coverage, and reducing the incidence of communicable diseases, according to various governmental and non-governmental reports. On MDG number 4 (reducing maternal mortality), Bangladesh is among the 16 countries[4] who have received UN recognition for being on track to achieve the targets. The areas that need further attention are environmental sustainability, malaria and other diseases prevention, employment generation, energy consumption, increasing girls’ attendance in tertiary education. Global partnership development (Goal 8) is also lagging behind in some areas. The table below summarizes the country’s achievements and deviations that need more attention.

Millennium Development Goals: Bangladesh Progress at a Glance[5]

Goals and Target

Base Year

Current Status

Target by 2015

Status of Progress

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty & Hunger

1.1 Proportion of population below national upper poverty line


(HIES 2010)


On track

1.2 Employment to population ratio (15+),%


59.3 (LFS 2010)

For all

Need Attention

1.3 Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption (2122)




Need Attention 

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

2.1 Net enrollment in primary education , %


94.9 (BANBEIS 2010)


On track 

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

3.1 Ratio of girls to boys in primary education


1.02(BANBEIS 2010)


Goal met

3.2 Ratio of girls to boys in secondary education


1.14(BANBEIS 2010)


Goal met

3.3 Ratio of girls to boys in tertiary education


0.39(BANBEIS 2010)


Need Attention 

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality

4.1 Under-five mortality rate (per 1000 live births)


50 (SVRS 2009)


On track

4.2 Infant mortality rate (per 1000 live births)


39 (SVRS 2009)


On track 

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

5.1 Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births)


194 (BMMS 2010)


On track 

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

6.1 HIV prevalence among population, %


0.1 (MIS DGHS 2010)


On track

6.2 Prevalence of Malaria per 100,000 population


512.6 (MIS DGHS 2010)


Need Attention 

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

7.1 Proportion of land area covered by forest, %


19.33 (DoF 2011)


Need Attention 

7.2 Consumption of ozone depleting CFCs in metric tons per capita


128 (DoE 2009)


Need Attention 

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

8.1 Proportion of bilateral ODA of OECD/DAC donors


100 (ERD 2010)


Goal met 


MDGs: Necessary means do not lead to justified ends

The MDGs in Bangladesh are seriously lacking of ownership, participation and partnership. which are the core principles in implementing pro-poor development strategies. The poor are the best experts on their own situation, but the goals and targets have been set with a top down approach. Those suffering from deprivation have not determined the priorities and have had no role in defining the concept of poverty and of what is needed to reduce poverty and suffering in the Bangladeshi context. The definition of poverty of Bangladesh or of any other developing countries should be multi-dimensional and cut across a variety of issues. The MDGs define poverty only based on income, ignoring many intangible factors which characterize poverty in this country. To be valued, to be treated with dignity, to be free to participate politically culturally and economically in one's society are also basic needs for a human being. Powerlessness, voicelessness, dependency and humiliation are also some other dimensions of poverty. So, in a broader sense, poverty eradication should include empowerment of people to acquire the tools to meet their needs, to create alternative and parallel power structures, to participate in political processes and to demand accountability from state and non-state institutions.

The MDG poverty reduction target for Bangladesh was set at 29.4 percent, which is half of the proportion of people in poverty than in the benchmark year of 1990. Even if the nation achieves the target, the total number of poor people would still remain extremely large in 2015, at some 40-50 million. If 2000, the year of the Millennium Declaration, had been chosen as benchmark, the target for poverty reduction would be more relevant. Considering recent population growth trends, it is estimated that by 2015 the actual number of poor persons can be about 60-62 million. Those left behind in the race to eradicate poverty will certainly be a most desperate, frustrated group of humanity.[6]


Debt and MDG: Debt repayment is hindering the MDG’s attainment

To achieve the MDGs within the timeline, the annual requirements of aid for Bangladesh were estimated at US$ 3.5 billion per year.[7] In actual terms, Bangladesh received US$ 1.58 billion on average annually from the donors. Bangladesh is not getting the support promised by the international community. The developed countries’ commitment of providing 0.7 percentage of their GDP as aid was made in the seventies, but only Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg and the Netherlands can claim to have met the target so far. The contributions from other rich countries are way below.

In Bangladesh, aid statistics show a large gap between the flow of total foreign aid and net foreign aid, due to the increasing volume of payments (principal) over the years. During July-March FY 2011-12, total foreign aid increased by 4.55 percent over the same period of FY 2010-11 but it was 20.89 percent lower than that of FY 2009-10. During the same period, total payment (principal) and total net foreign aid increased by 11.91 percent and 0.03 percent respectively compared with the same period of FY 2010-11.

Total debt of Bangladesh in FY 2010-11 amounts USD 23,322.417 millions – that is 22.21 percent of GDP. Total external debt of Bangladesh amounts USD 21,347.44 millions – that is 20.24 percent of GDP. The per capita debt burden in FY 2010-11 in Bangladesh has increased by 8.41 percent than that of FY 2009-10 (USD 151). In FY 2010-11, per capita debt burden stood at USD 163 that is 22.99 percent of per capita GDP and it might increase to USD 171.83 in FY 2014-15.[8]

Each year a major portion of the budget expenditure goes to interest payment. In FY 2006-07, 11 percent of the total development and non-development expenditure has been paid on interest payment, while payment on social security and welfare was only 4.9 percent. In FY 2009-10, the interest payment has risen to 13.9 percent while social security and welfare was only 7.3 percent.  


Debt cancellation: Way of the repatriation

According to World Bank and IMF calculations the debt-export ratio for Bangladesh stands at 146 percent, which is below the official threshold of 150 percent. According to Jeffrey Sachs (2005), debt relief is not aligned with the Millennium Development Goals. The targets for debt relief are based on arbitrary indicators (debt-export ratios) rather than MDG-based needs. Bangladesh has regularly paid its debts and expanded exports, and is now being punished for its success (Bhattacharya 2006). The pace of MDGs attainment is largely dependant on its financing, which can be possible shifting the so called debt servicing finances to the MDG activities. So Bangladesh demands a full debt cancellation for effective utilization of its own finances to achieve the MDG targets by stipulated time.


Bangladesh deserves climate justice

As climate change impact is creating severe hindrance in achieving the MDGs, Bangladesh deserves climate justice. It should be recognized and addressed by the international community that Bangladesh is least responsible for climate change while it is experiencing the greatest impact of that change. Historical responsibilities of high carbon emitting countries should be determined, and there should be established legally binding obligations to ensure compensation for Bangladesh. The government has earmarked more than U$S 10 billion in investments for the period 2007-2015 to make Bangladesh less vulnerable to natural disasters. Despite this effort, the direct annual cost of natural disasters over the last 10 years is estimated to be between 0.5 and 1 per cent of GDP.[9] A World Bank report estimates that Bangladesh needs about U$S 5.7 billions as adaptation cost to face the increased risks of cyclones and inland monsoon floods in a changing climate by 2050 – U$S 3.3 billions for railways, road networks, embankments and drainage infrastructure, and U$S 2.4 billions to avert further damage and loss from cyclonic storm surge in a changing climate.[10] This amount should come from the countries which are historically responsible for the phenomenon. Apart from compensation, Bangladesh also deserves technology and capacity building support from the industrialized countries.


The structure of IFIs must be revisited

The rules of international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank and the IMF for the developing countries are full of controversies and confusions. In the name of poverty reduction in the developing countries, these IFIs are actually triggering more complexities. The World Bank and the IMF often attach loan conditionalities based on what is termed as the ‘Washington Consensus’, focusing on liberalization of trade, investment and the financial sector, deregulation and privatization of nationalized industries. Often the conditionalities are attached without due regard for the borrower countries’ individual circumstances and the prescriptive recommendations by the World Bank and IMF fail to resolve the economic problems within the countries. [11] Moreover there is in fact no participation in decision making by the developing countries as the voting power is determined by the ‘dollar’, not by the ‘membership’. Bangladesh is already facing various financial constraints by IMF-imposed conditions like expanding regressive taxes, such as the VAT, and by reducing subsidies in essentials sectors. Therefore, a strong reform of the IFIs structure is needed. Decision of these bodies should be participatory; there should be a "one member, one vote" policy. 


Setting new Goals, Keeping sustainability in mind

New, effective sets of goals are needed for Bangladesh to ensure a sustainable development. But this should be within a framework of sustainability, ensuring the preservation of Mother Earth and the life and livelihood of all human beings. The MDGs have a "one size fit all" approach, not directly related to sharing the resources with equity and justice. In fact, all the UN covenants are based on equal rights to life and livelihood. Today the rights framework has to be widened to consider our rights as well as those of our Mother Earth. As a country, Bangladesh needs to identify its goals according to its own needs and the needs and the solutions should be defined from within the country.

[1]              Excerpted from James S. Pender, Climate Change, Its Impacts and Possible Community Based Responses in Bangladesh, 2010.

[2]              United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNUEHS), The Nature Conservancy, Alliance Development Works, World Risk Report-2012: Environmental Degradation and Disaster.

[3]UNDP Human Development Report 2007 , Background Paper on Risks, Vulnerability and Adaptation in Bangladesh

[5]              GOB (Government of Bangladesh), 2012, The Millennium Development Goals: Bangladesh Progress Report 2011

[6]              Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, The Millennium Development Goals: A Panacea or yet another agenda

[7]              MDGs Need Assessment and Costing 2009-2015 Bangladesh report, 2009

[8]              Unnayan Onneshon, Bangladesh Economic Update, 2011

[9]              GoB and UNDP, Assessment of Investment and Financial Flows to Adapt to the Climate Change Effects in the Agriculture Sector, 2011

[10]             The World Bank, The cost of Adapting to Extreme Weather Events in a Climate Change”

[11]             http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/item.shtml?x=320869


Avance hacia los ODM y demanda social insatisfecha

Chile sigue siendo el país latinoamericano con el mejor comportamiento en términos de logro de las Metas de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM), de acuerdo con la Red Gubernamental Milenio[1], que proporcionó los insumos que sirvieron de base al tercer informe nacional ODM Chile. Este informe, publicado en diciembre de 2010, comprende principalmente cifras recogidas en 2008 y 2009, por lo que no incluye los potenciales efectos adversos del terremoto del 27 de febrero de 2010 sobre los indicadores reportados. No obstante este nivel de logro, que el propio informe estima en alrededor de un tercio del nivel establecido como meta para el año 2015, el profundo malestar social manifestado masivamente en las calles por la sociedad chilena en los últimos dos años en relación con el estado de la educación y la salud públicas; la depredación ambiental por parte de las grandes corporaciones y, sobre todo, la evidente profundización de la brecha de la desigualdad, plantean interrogantes respecto a lo que ello significa en la práctica para el país.

Centro de Estudios Nacionales de Desarrollo Alternativo (CENDA)

Chile sigue siendo el país latinoamericano con el mejor comportamiento en términos de logro de las Metas de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM), de acuerdo con la Red Gubernamental Milenio[1], que proporcionó los insumos que sirvieron de base al tercer informe nacional ODM Chile. Este informe, publicado en diciembre de 2010, comprende principalmente cifras recogidas en 2008 y 2009, por lo que no incluye los potenciales efectos adversos del terremoto del 27 de febrero de 2010 sobre los indicadores reportados.

No obstante este nivel de logro, que el propio informe estima en alrededor de un tercio del nivel establecido como meta para el año 2015, el profundo malestar social manifestado masivamente en las calles por la sociedad chilena en los últimos dos años en relación con el estado de la educación y la salud públicas; la depredación ambiental por parte de las grandes corporaciones y, sobre todo, la evidente profundización de la brecha de la desigualdad, plantean interrogantes respecto a lo que ello significa en la práctica para el país.

A nuestro juicio, el fracaso de las políticas y programas gubernamentales en abordar los problemas de fondo que impiden llegar a una sociedad más justa, relativiza los logros informados por Chile en alcanzar las metas de los ODM y hace que sigan apareciendo como insuficientes.

Asuntos como la falta de acceso igualitario a una educación pública gratuita y de calidad; a un sistema de salud pública que garantice  atención oportuna y accesible a todas las personas; a empleos y salarios decentes; la falta de participación efectiva de la ciudadanía en los procesos de evaluación de proyectos ambientales, que provoca la resistencia de las comunidades a la instalación de mega proyectos energéticos, mineros y otros en sus territorios, son todos parte de un modelo de desarrollo que no está centrado en las personas ni en sus derechos, sino en el crecimiento económico y la explotación de recursos naturales.

Ello ocurre en un contexto global donde el principal desafío para el futuro es justamente avanzar de manera sustancial de la consecución de las metas de los ODM hacia la erradicación de la pobreza y transitar más allá, en la dirección de un desarrollo socialmente justo y ambiental y económicamente sostenible.

En efecto, como resultado de la cumbre Rio+20[2], las Naciones Unidas han llamado a gobiernos, sector privado y sociedad civil a proponer un marco de desarrollo distinto. Para hacerlo, la sociedad civil se ha aliado en la campaña global “Beyond 2015” ('Más allá de 2015'), señalando, que “Ante la situación política y económica actual, las Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil (OSC), así como los gobiernos, las Naciones Unidas y otras partes interesadas deben trabajar duro para acelerar la consecución de los ODM en 2015. Sin embargo, no se puede dar por hecho que los ODM se alcanzarán completamente y se estima que, a pesar del desarrollo alcanzado en determinados sectores, en 2015 una de cada cinco personas seguirá viviendo con ingresos por debajo de 1,25 dólares al día. Es pues esencial que los esfuerzos presentes para alcanzar los ODM en 2015 empiecen también a tener en cuenta la necesidad de asegurar el establecimiento de un marco robusto para el desarrollo cuando alcancen su fecha límite acordada dentro de cuatro años.”[3]

El gobierno, por su parte, afirma en la introducción al Tercer Informe Nacional sobre los ODM que “Chile presenta una serie de metas cumplidas, y otras aún por cumplir, las que plantean desafíos importantes para los próximos años. El compromiso del gobierno con el avance hacia el desarrollo, se materializa no sólo en la implementación de acciones concretas sino que también en la instauración de lo que ha denominado “una nueva forma de gobernar”, que enfatice el cumplimiento de las metas concretas, que actúe en forma honesta y transparente, eficaz y con sentido de urgencia, y cuya mirada esté puesta en los desafíos que nuestro país enfrentará en el siglo XXI.”[4]

A continuación examinaremos someramente algunos de estos logros y desafíos, a la luz de las demandas sociales que se expresan crecientemente, y las propuestas y estrategias del gobierno chileno para avanzar hacia el desarrollo en las dimensiones de la reducción de la pobreza y la educación.

Menos pobres y más trabajo...pero depende del género y del tipo de trabajo

Según el informe del gobierno chileno ya citado, “considerando que si bien entre los años 1990 y 2006 se produjo una disminución desde 38,6% hasta 13,7%, esta tendencia decreciente se revirtió en el período siguiente, registrando en el año 2009 una tasa de pobreza de 15,7%, lo que indica que más de 2,5 millones de personas se encuentran en tal situación, de los cuales 636 mil viven en situaciones de extrema pobreza. Un problema adicional, y que no siempre se ve reflejado en las estadísticas, es la situación inestable en que vive un grupo importante de personas, quienes si bien no se encuentran en situación de pobreza, enfrentan una alta probabilidad de caer en ella si pierden su trabajo o padecen una enfermedad grave, entre otras situaciones críticas. El gobierno, consciente de la gravedad que revisten estas situaciones, se ha comprometido a terminar con la extrema pobreza el año 2014 y a sentar las bases para derrotar la pobreza antes del año 2018. Del mismo modo, ha adquirido el compromiso de terminar con las desigualdades excesivas.”

¿Cuánto se ha avanzado en este aspecto? Según la Encuesta CASEN -la principal encuesta socioeconómica en el país y fuente de las estadísticas oficiales de pobreza y distribución del Ingreso, elaborada por el Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, Microdatos de la Universidad de Chile y CEPAL- a noviembre de 2011 el porcentaje de la población viviendo en situación de pobreza fue de 14,4%, mientras un 2,8% permaneció en situación de extrema pobreza. Esto significa, en términos porcentuales, que la caída de la pobreza fue de 5%, y la disminución de la pobreza extrema de 24%. Al desagregar estas cifras por género, se comprueba que la disminución se da fundamentalmente en los hombres y que la pobreza sigue teniendo rostro de niño y de mujer.

El informe gubernamental asegura que los factores más importantes que han influido en esta evolución de la pobreza en estos últimos dos años son el alza del precio de los alimentos; el terremoto de febrero de 2010; el aumento del empleo; el incremento de sueldos; y las políticas sociales focalizadas.

Respecto a estas últimas, se mencionan como centrales para lograr erradicar la pobreza extrema en 2014, además del aumento del empleo: el ingreso Ético Familiar, el Bono al Trabajo de la Mujer, y el aumento de la cobertura en jardines infantiles y educación preescolar.

No obstante, en relación al aumento del empleo, desde la sociedad civil surgen voces que difieren acerca del éxito que el gobierno dice haber alcanzado en esta área y sostienen que si bien hay más trabajo, también hay más precariedad laboral. Un estudio de la Red de Territorios Ciudadanos y Fundación Sol[5] concluye que la disminución de la desocupación en Chile se explica principalmente por el aumento de formas de trabajo poco dignas y de mala calidad. De hecho, según los investigadores, el incremento de la subcontratación es el principal factor que habría permitido reducir el desempleo a nivel nacional y esto ha significado un grave estancamiento o disminución del empleo protegido en las regiones. Por lo mismo, sólo el 52% de los asalariados del país cuenta actualmente con un contrato indefinido, previsión, salud y seguro de cesantía. Las fuentes de la investigación son el sistema de indicadores de calidad de vida de la Red de Territorios Ciudadanos, los datos de la Nueva Encuesta Nacional de Empleo y la propia encuesta CASEN, entre otras fuentes oficiales.

El estudio cuestiona la pertinencia de la tasa oficial de desempleo nacional, que alcanza el 6,5%. En esta línea, los investigadores proponen un nuevo indicador para medir el desempleo en el país denominado “Tasa de Desempleo Integral”. Según este indicador, que considera la desocupación oculta, el subempleo y otros factores de precariedad laboral, la Tasa Nacional de Desempleo alcanzaría al 11,7%. Según esta medición, las cinco regiones más pobres del país -todas distintas a la Metropolitana- tienen elevados índices de desempleo integral.

Educación: jóvenes chilenos movilizados ¿por qué?

Los dos últimos años, pero especialmente el 2011, fueron de intensas movilizaciones estudiantiles, multitudinarias, creativas y mayormente pacíficas, que inspiraron a vastos sectores de la población, galvanizaron alianzas con otros movimientos sociales y se convirtieron en un símbolo, a nivel nacional e internacional, de la lucha contra el sistema de educación del modelo neoliberal chileno. Sus demandas se relacionan principalmente con la calidad de la educación, pero también con la necesidad de terminar con el lucro y fortalecer a la educación pública, aumentando sustancialmente la inversión del estado en esta área.

El gobierno de Chile, en el citado Tercer Informe sobre los ODM, reporta que “las cifras indican que aun cuando la cobertura de la educación se ha ido acercando a los niveles planteados como meta, la calidad no ha alcanzado niveles cercanos al de países de la OCDE (Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico). Con respecto a la cobertura, el análisis de la evolución de la Tasa Matrícula Neta de enseñanza básica entre los años 1990 y 2009 ha sido positiva, pasando de un 88% en 1990 a 93,3% en el año 2009. En tanto, en educación media, la Tasa de Matrícula Neta pasó de 54,6% a 84,1% durante este mismo periodo.”

Además, reconoce el Informe, “En relación a la calidad de la educación, los resultados de las pruebas PISA indican que, aun cuando hubo una mejora en los resultados entre los años 2000 y 2006, los puntajes de jóvenes de 15 años en ciencias, lectura y matemáticas se encuentran por debajo de los países de la OCDE. En forma adicional, los problemas de calidad de la educación replican y perpetúan las desigualdades existentes al interior de la sociedad, traspasándolas de generación en generación.”

Para hacer frente a un problema de la envergadura del que destacamos en el párrafo anterior, el gobierno propone una estrategia que “combina mejoras a la institucionalidad educacional, creación de cincuenta liceos de excelencia en las principales ciudades de Chile, el aumento en la subvención escolar (la que además será diferenciada), la creación de programas de apoyo a las escuelas con resultados insuficientes, el diseño de una nueva carrera docente y la entrega de mayor información a los padres para que puedan elegir el mejor establecimiento para sus hijos, entre otras medidas.”

¿Satisface esta estrategia la demanda social por una mejor educación pública? La Asamblea Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios (ACES), en su “Propuesta para la Educación que Queremos”[6], señala  los tres ejes temáticos que consideran como la base para avanzar en un cambio radical de la totalidad del sistema educacional chileno. Los ejes son: a) Sistema nacional de educación estatal, gratuita, de excelencia y con control comunitario; b) Tarjeta Nacional Estudiantil (TNE) gratuita los 365 días del año; c) Reconstrucción de colegios, liceos y escuelas estatales sin privatizaciones.

Afirma la propuesta de los jóvenes agrupados en ACES: “En dichos ejes encontraremos ideas y conceptos claves como el rol fundamental y no subsidiario del Estado, con descentralización y control de la comunidad (poder social);gratuidad de la educación y fin al lucro; Educación Técnica Profesional al servicio de un proyecto de desarrollo del país definido por las mayorías y donde las regiones jueguen un rol relevante; aportes basales a la educación y fin a la subvención; implementación de una Jornada Escolar Completa con una visión integral del sujeto; fin a la segregación (apartheid escolar-social) que potencia el actual sistema de educación; una educación igualitaria e integral; control férreo de parte del Estado a los sostenedores, reposicionar el rol de la comunidad escolar en la definición e implementación de su proyecto educativo,  curricular, etc.”

Como se aprecia, hay escasa convergencia entre la estrategia propuesta por el gobierno y la demanda de los jóvenes estudiantes secundarios chilenos, quienes van mucho más allá del terreno de la educación y afirman que a través del movimiento estudiantil “se ha abierto la puerta para que el mundo social defina el tipo de sociedad que quiere. Nuestras movilizaciones han desnudado a un país injusto, desigual, inequitativo pero abundante en energía, creatividad, ideas y convicciones.” En este sentido, dicen, “No sólo nos movilizamos por nosotros, lo hacemos por el país, por las mayorías, por un proyecto de sociedad más democrática, participativa y justa.”

De este modo, las medidas que se ofrecen como solución a los déficit de la educación en Chile, parecen ser equivalentes a intentar tapar el sol con un dedo y errar completamente la puntería respecto al debate que se ha instalado en la sociedad chilena sobre este tema.

En conclusión, se observa una enorme distancia entre la capacidad de respuesta del gobierno de Chile y la demanda social -el aumento del empleo como factor de reducción de la pobreza frente a la demanda por empleos decentes y salarios justos; las medidas para solucionar algunos problemas de infraestructura en la educación, frente a la demanda por una educación pública de calidad y sin fines de lucro-. Todo ello en un marco de creciente desigualdad, a pesar de los avances de los ODM y del crecimiento económico del país.

La frustración que provoca esta respuesta insuficiente y mal direccionada, provoca una progresiva radicalización de los movimientos sociales, que comienzan a desbordar el ámbito sectorial (empleo, educación, salud...) y apuntan cada vez con mayor fuerza y claridad, hacia reformas estructurales y políticas de fondo, como cambios constitucionales y del paradigma de desarrollo. En este sentido, es probable que  los movimientos sociales chilenos se beneficien de la movilización global por un nuevo marco de desarrollo para el post 2015 y, a la vez, puedan realizar un importante aporte a su construcción.


[1]Instancia permanente de cooperación y coordinación establecida a partir del año 2003, compuesta por: Ministerio de Educación; Ministerio de Salud; Servicio Nacional de la Mujer; Ministerio del Trabajo y Previsión Social; Corporación Nacional Forestal; Comisión Nacional del Medioambiente; Ministerio de Vivienda y Urbanismo; Ministerio de Obras Públicas; Subsecretaria de Desarrollo Regional y Administrativo, y Superintendencia de Servicios Sanitarios.

[2] Nombre abreviado de la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Desarrollo Sostenible Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Desarrollo Sostenible   que tuvo lugar en junio de 2012 en Río de Janeiro, Brasil, veinte años después de la histórica Cumbre de la Tierra en Río en 1992

[3] Publicación conjunta del Llamado Mundial a la Acción contra la Pobreza (GCAP), Beyond 2015 y la Campaña del Milenio de Naciones Unidas, ‘El mundo que queremos – Más allá de 2015’ Manual para Deliberaciones Nacionales, <http://www.beyond2015.org/sites/default/files/Manual%20deliberaciones.pdfhttp://www.beyond2015.org/sites/default/files/Manual%20deliberaciones.pdf> (consultada en diciembre de 2012).

[4]Tercer Informe del Gobierno de Chile sobre los ODM, 2010.

[5]Red Territorios Ciudadanos y Fundación Sol, “Informe Territorial Red Chilena por Territorios Justos y Sustentables”, <http://issuu.com/territorios8/docs/informe_territorial_red_chilena_por_territorios_ju/1 > (consultada en enero 2013).

[6]Asamblea Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios (ACES), <http://aces-chile.cl/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Aces-FF-Difusion.pdf > (consultada en enero de 2013).


Bad governance and corruption frustrate achievement of MDGs

The government of Uganda has established national strategies and plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and has continuously allocated resources to those schemes. Unfortunately, governance weaknesses against corruption have hampered the progresses. Only three out of the eight MDGs may be reached by 2015. The other goals would be missed due to stagnation or regression, particularly in sectors where corruption is highly concentrated and losses or misappropriations of public funds are endemic.

David Obot, DENIVA

The government of Uganda has established national strategies and plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and has continuously allocated resources to those schemes. Unfortunately, governance weaknesses against corruption have hampered the progresses. Only three out of the eight MDGs may be reached by 2015. The other goals would be missed due to stagnation or regression, particularly in sectors where corruption is highly concentrated and losses or misappropriations of public funds are endemic.

The National Development Plan (2010), the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (1997), and other policies and programmes on education, health, environment, and HIV/AIDS, for example, have made significant contributions and provide useful lessons for the post 2015 sustainable development agenda. But for this new framework to be successful, the government must commit itself to eliminate corruption in all sectors an at all levels.

Adherence to the 1995 Constitution and the enforcement of laws, policies and regulations under strict accountability and transparency practices, coupled with punitive measures on the offenders, are needed to restore sanity in the use of public resources if economic and social transformation and the MDGs are to be met.

 National Context

After the promulgation of the Constitution in 1995, Uganda has achieved remarkable political and socio-economic progresses. Multiparty democracy enshrined in the Constitution has opened the competition between political parties in elections at the national and the local level. The annual economic growth averaged around seven percent in the past two decades. Yet, since 1986, the authorities have spent a substantial amount of resources fighting against the insurgent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which displaced around two million people in Northern Uganda.

The Constitution orders to take “all lawful measures (…) to expose, combat and eradicate corruption and abuse or misuse of power by those holding political and other public offices”. In addition, laws such as the Public Finance and Accountability Act (2003) mandate institutions including the parliament, the judiciary, the Office of the Auditor General, the Inspector General of Government and the police to take actions against corruption. Unfortunately, various limitations have turned these frameworks and strategies ineffective, thus, eroding governance.


MDG Status

Uganda has progressed towards some MDGs, and has stagnated or moved backwards regarding others. The debt relief initiatives allowed the country to free resources to support national development programmes. The alleviation corresponding to the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) increased from USD 77.7 million (2005/2006) to USD 126.7 million (2009/2010), while debt services were reduced from USD 117.4 million (2005/2006) to USD 60.8 million (2009/2010). The annual economic growth averaged 6.9 percent in the 1990s and 7.2 percent in the 2000s, according to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

Uganda succeeded in addressing some problems remarked on the MDGs, such as low incomes and hunger, gender disparities in primary and secondary education, access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and cooperation with the private sector on information and communications.

According to the Uganda Poverty Status Report (2012) the number of the poor decreased from 9.9 million to 7.5 million between 1992 and 2009/2010. Thus, the percentage of the population living below the poverty line fell from 56.4 to 24.5 in the same period. The country had surpassed the MDG target of 35.7 percent by 2005. However, inequality measured by the Gini coefficient has increased from 0.365 (1992/93), 0.428(2002/2003), 0.408(2005/2006), to 0.426(2009/2010).

The MDGs Report for Uganda 2010 noted that the net enrolment ratio in primary education increased between 2001 and 2010 from 87% to 96% of the children aged 6-12 years, though completion rate to primary level 7 decreased from 63% to 54% in the same period. Besides, women’s empowerment is steadily making headway. There are more and more women engaged in active politics and representing citizens in the parliament and in the local councils, amidst challenges that include poor remuneration and motivation of female workers, poor infrastructure, limited skills and competence for job creation, high prevalence of household poverty that limit women’s support to government initiatives on gender equity, and early pregnancy among girls.

According to the report on HIV/AIDS submitted in 2010 by the government to the UN, 141,416 persons were receiving antiretroviral therapy by June 2008, up from 67,525 in 2005. The proportion of the population with access to safe water increased from 62.6 to 73.8 percent between 2002/2003 and 2009/2010, and 18.7 percent has improved sanitation, estimated the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (2012), and the Uganda Demographic Household Survey (2011).

On the other hand, statistics show slow progresses in the MDGs related to child, maternal and reproductive health, the fight against malaria and other major diseases, and the loss of environmental resources and biodiversity.

The Uganda Demographic Household Survey reported that between 1995 to 2011 the under-five mortality rate decreased from 156 to 90 per 1,000 live births; the infant mortality rate decreased from 81 to 54 per 1,000 live births; the maternal mortality ratio decreased from 506 to 352 per 100,000 births; the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel increased from 38% to 59%; and contraceptive prevalence rate increased from 15% to 30%.

Meanwhile, HIV prevalence increased from 6.5% to 7.1%. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) global report on tuberculosis ranked Uganda 16th among the 22 high TB burden countries. Tuberculosis remains a major public health problem with an annual incidence of 330 cases out of 100,000 people and an estimate of 102,000 new infections per year.

To make things worse, pharmaceutical companies put the brake on the cooperation aimed to give Ugandan people access to essential drugs at an affordable price.

Besides, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) noted in 2010 that the environmental degradation had got worse, increasing the burden on the national economy as more resources must be allocated to stem outbreaks of diseases, to the treatment of drinking water, to resettle environmental refugees and to restore damaged ecosystems. NEMA also observed a decline in the percentage of the territory covered by forests, from 21.3 in 1990 to 18.3 in 2005.


Corruption effects on MDGs progress

Corruption in Uganda has reached unprecedented proportions and costs billions of shillings to the country, thereby affecting a significant portion of the national budget, according to various institutions. In 2005, the World Bank estimated Uganda loses to corruption at 510 billion shillings (USD 204 million), while the Global Integrity Report (2006) doubled the amount to one trillion shillings. The East African Bribery Index issued in August 2012 by Transparency International ranked Uganda first among the five countries of the region: 40.7% of the respondents said they encountered bribery incidents in the public sector.

The government newspaper Saturday Vision summarized in November 2012 some of the most remarkable cases:

■ Some 169 billion shillings (USD 63 million) earmarked for over 1,018 former East African Community employees were fraudulently paid out to non-beneficiaries between February and October 2011;

■ Some 69 billion shillings (USD 25.7 million) in donor funds meant for the post-conflict recovery of Northern Uganda were transferred to personal bank accounts of employees of the Prime Minister’s Office between 2009 and 2011;

■ The Microfinance Support Centre misappropriated 60 billion shillings (USD 22.34 million) meant to provide credits for micro-enterprises in 2011;

■ Non-pension beneficiaries received 169 billion shillings (USD 63 million) from social security funds through a sophisticated scam in the Ministry of Public Service;

■ An identity card project worth 150 billion shillings (USD 55.87 million) signed in February 2010 had produced only 400 cards so far;

■ Officials in the Ministry of Health did not account for 25 billion shillings (USD 9.3 million) given by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for buying medicines;

■ The Ministry of Local Government paid USD 1.7 million for 70,000 bicycles that were not delivered yet;

■ No one was found guilty after the spending of 500 billion shillings (USD 186.2 million) instead of the approved budget of 270 billion (USD 100.6 million) for the organization of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2007.

Corruption has not spared management of natural resources, and the consequences include population displacement, migration and encroachment on fragile ecosystems of swamps and forests. Basically, all sectors are directly or indirectly affected by corruption, and such trends are likely to frustrate progress towards the MDGs.


Response to combat corruption

Uganda counts on constitutional provisions and laws currently in force to tackle corruption and with institutions entrusted with the task. The Parliamentary Accounts Committee has intensified discussions on the Auditor General’s reports and recommends actions to different bodies. However, legislation still poses some challenges regarding the recovery of embezzled public funds and other assets accumulated by illegal means.

Nonetheless, some cases have led to the interdiction of high executive officials, including ministerial permanent secretaries. The police have also put caveats on properties that may have been acquired by interdicted officials. Investigations and prosecutions in several districts are also in progress, led by the police and the Inspector General of Government.

However, the effectiveness of the institutions mandated to fight against corruption has been minimal. The failures are attributed to poor investigation, work overload in the police force and in the judiciary, use of sophisticated technologies by cyber criminals, political interferences, and lack of political will to take actions on “well connected personalities”.

Nonetheless, arising from the Auditor General’s report on misappropriation of donor funds in the Prime Minister’s Office, the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom suspended in November 2012 their aid to Uganda until the case is fully investigated, the embezzled money is recovered, and the authorities introduce control systems. The reduction or discontinuing of services due to the suspension of the aid will have profound effects on the population.


Recommendations post-2015

Considering the effects of widespread corruption, especially on public services, the Uganda post-2015 development agenda must emphasize good governance without compromising accountability and transparency. The adherence to these principles will enable the design of prudent plans matched with strategies for the mobilisation of resources, focused on clear and tractable indicators of progress, and with the government committed to tackle and eliminate corruption.

The new framework must also include the strengthening of the decentralisation system foreseen in the 1995 Constitution and detailed in the Local Government Act approved in 1997, as well as enhancing the participation of citizens and media in monitoring governance and service delivery in order to help curb corruption, channel resources to development priorities, and speed up socio-economic transformation.

It is also important to continue focussing on goals and targets that enable individuals to achieve their full potential. Addressing the problems associated with low household income will reduce poverty and will allow people to choose productive resources to improve their conditions of living. Small farm holders who produce the bulk of primary commodities in Uganda should benefit from government support to agriculture modernization, access to appropriate inputs, value addition through agro processing, and for marketing their outputs.

Increasing the protection of natural resources is also required to address the destruction of the ecosystems and to facilitate climate change mitigation. An emphasis on water security will help populations in different locations for purposes such as food production and livestock farming.

A continuous focus on universal and functional primary and secondary education and on skills enhancement would keep on narrowing gender gaps in education, employment and income.

Progress recorded so far in the promotion of child and maternal health should be enhanced to aim at the reduction of infant mortality, maternal health and to reduce HIV infections.



Progress made by Uganda in reaching the MDGs is commendable in several areas. However, corruption has affected the extent of achievements, which should have been more than those reached since the Millennium Declaration was agreed in 2000. The misappropriated resources would have contributed to poverty reduction, narrowing of gender gaps, improvement of health, education and other social services, access to safe drinking water, and addressing the environment sustainability. The post-2015 development agenda therefore demands good governance practices and appropriate actions in curbing corruption and mismanagement of the national resources to enable the realization of socio economic transformation of Uganda.


Global Integrity Report, 2006. See: http://www.globalintegrity.org/report

Government of Uganda (2010). Uganda UNGASS Progress Report, Jan 2008-Dec 2009, Kampala, Uganda AIDS Commission

NEMA (2010). State of the Environment Report for Uganda 2010. National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kampala.

Sunday Vision, November 18, 2012, Vol.18 No.55 (Special Report).

The Republic of Uganda (2012). Uganda Poverty Status Report: Poverty Reduction and the National Development Process - Reducing vulnerability, equalising opportunities and transforming livelihoods, Kampala, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

The Republic of Uganda (2010). Millennium Development Goals Report for Uganda 2010: Special theme: Accelerating progress towards improving maternal health, Kampala, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Developemnt.

The Republic of Uganda. National Planning Authority (2010), National Development Plan
(2010/11-2014/15), Kampala, National Planning Authority.
The Republic of Uganda (2003). Public Finance and Accountability Act (PFAA) 2003, Kampala, Uganda
Transparency International (2012). The East African Bribery Index 2012, Nairobi, Transparency International, Kenya.

Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) (2010). Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2009/10, Kampala, Uganda Bureau of Statistics. See: http://www.ubos.org
Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and ICF International Inc. 2012. Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2011. Kampala, Uganda: UBOS and Calverton, Maryland: ICF International Inc.
Uganda Communications Commission. 2011/2012 Half Year (1H11/12) Post and Telecommunications Market Review. See: http://www.ucc.co.ug/ (Access 19.11.2012).
UN (2000) United Nations Millennium Declaration. See: http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm (Accessed 15.11.2012).
UNDP (2011). Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals, 2011, New York, UNDP.








Les OMD n’ont guère induit les changements et résultats escomptés notamment au Bénin. …le modèle actuel de croissance alimentée par le haut ne bénéficie pas assez à la population. En effet, les bénéfices mesurés en termes de réduction de la pauvreté, santé maternelle, et survie des enfants sont bien loin de ce que les Africains sont en droit d’attendre . « Allons à un nouveau cadre de développement plus réaliste avec des objectifs réduits et efficaces ».

Les OMD n’ont guère induit les changements et résultats escomptés notamment au Bénin.  …le modèle actuel de croissance alimentée par le haut ne bénéficie pas assez à la population. En effet, les bénéfices mesurés en termes de réduction de la pauvreté, santé maternelle, et survie des enfants sont bien loin de ce que les Africains sont en droit d’attendre[1]. « Allons à un nouveau cadre de développement plus réaliste avec des objectifs réduits et efficaces ».

Insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle toujours grandissant au Bénin

La couverture des besoins journaliers en énergie ne dépasse guère, pour plus du quart de la population béninoise, 1300 kilocalories au lieu de 2400, minimum nécessaire à un adulte moyen de 65 kg pour une vie active (Ministère du développement, 2011). Il s’ensuit une sous-alimentation et malnutrition avec leurs corollaires de maladies chroniques ou invalidantes. La situation des différents ménages en insécurité alimentaire est aggravée par la faiblesse du financement du secteur agricole et son orientation vers la filière coton. Ce qui a pour conséquence le manque de financement pour les interventions nécessaires pour donner l’impulsion pour une meilleure augmentation en quantité et en qualité du disponible alimentaire, toute chose indispensable pour inverser la tendance actuelle. Il faut US$ 41,3 par tête d’habitant pour espérer assumer la sécurité alimentaire au Bénin[2]. La Prévalence (%) de l’insuffisance pondérale chez les enfants de moins decinq (5) ans reste encore critique.

Le logement, véritable casse tête pour les béninois

La proportion réelle de personnes vivant dans les taudis n’est pas connue au Bénin. Les dix dernières années sont marquées par la multiplication des problèmes de l’habitat. Les méthodes de planification urbaine ont très peu évolué; à vrai dire, elles contribuent souvent aux problèmes urbains au lieu d’être des outils d’amélioration de la condition humaine et de l’environnement. Les rares politiques de logement qui existent ont échoué en ce qu’elles ont mis l’accent sur les constructions de standing élevé, extrêmement chères et donc réservées à une minorité au détriment de la majorité qui subit une crise chronique du logement. Ces  politiques et programmes ne sont pas en adéquation avec les besoins du plus grand nombre. Dans les grandes villes, il est fréquent de rencontrer femmes et enfants mineurs errer à longueur de journée sans toit ni domicile fixe. Les tendances actuelles sont aux antipodes des prévisions des OMD.

Les OMD n’ont pas profités aux personnes démunies

La Déclaration du Millénaire souligne la nécessité de concentrer l’aide au développement sur les groupes et les pays les plus pauvres. Le constat est tout autre. Les OMD ont négligé des secteurs essentiels pour les plus pauvres, comme l’agriculture, alors que trois quarts des plus pauvres en vivent et que la pauvreté urbaine découle en partie de l’insuffisance du développement rural.

L’approche des OMD reste essentiellement quantitative. Ceci ne permet pas de prendre pleinement en compte une approche pluridimensionnelle de la pauvreté. L’interdépendance entre l’éradication de la pauvreté et la prise en compte des inégalités, notamment par des politiques de redistribution, est insuffisante dans les OMD.

Parmi les OMD certains sont « non universels[3] ». La logique des OMD a essentiellement favorisé l’essor de politiques ciblant les populations se situant à proximité du seuil de pauvreté et pouvant donc le plus rapidement le dépasser. Les populations qui en étaient le plus éloignées ont souvent été délaissées et ont vu leurs conditions de vie se dégrader. Dans le secteur de l’éducation, par exemple, la pauvreté reste le principal obstacle à l’atteinte l’objectif de scolarisation universelle et les principaux bénéficiaires des politiques menées depuis dix ans ont été les moins pauvres des plus pauvres. La réalisation des OMD est mesurée au niveau national sans prise en compte des disparités fortes qui existent en fonction du revenu ou du milieu de résidence (rural/urbain).

Lacunes et autres éléments du cadre des OMD ayant  posé problème

Le premier écueil des OMD est le caractère non participatif de son élaboration. Ils ont essentiellement été conçus par les pays développés sans la participation effective des pays pauvres concernés. Le cadre général perd en cohérence en mêlant et plaçant sur le même plan des objectifs  hétérogènes. Les OMD privilégient également une approche fragmentée qui élude nécessairement de nombreuses dimensions du développement. L’approche quantitative des OMD a également fortement influencé le cadre opérationnel mis en place pour atteindre ces objectifs, générant une forte dépendance externe en termes d’expertise. L’approche quasi exclusivement centrée sur une problématique d’accès s’est faite au détriment de la qualité dans certains secteurs comme celui de l’éducation. Les progrès[4] réalisés dans l’atteinte des OMD ne sont pas nécessairement à attribuer aux objectifs eux-mêmes, mais beaucoup plus aux stratégies de croissance.  Même si elles accentuent les inégalités, elles se sont avérés plus efficaces que les OMD, au regard des millions de personnes sortis de la pauvreté dans les pays émergents.

Certaines cibles sont obsolètes au regard des évolutions du contexte international pour le développement, caractérisées par une diversification des défis, des acteurs et des sources de financement. L’OMD 8 en particulier qui appelle au renforcement du Partenariat global pour le développement ne prend pas suffisamment en compte le rôle croissant joué par les pays émergents et les bailleurs privés. Les indicateurs de cet OMD ne permettent pas non plus d’intégrer les contraintes spécifiques (institutionnelles,  sécuritaires ou politiques) des pays fragiles, et s’avèrent ainsi fortement dépassés au regard des avancées récentes du débat sur la réduction de la vulnérabilité. Cet OMD occulte d’une manière générale l’importance d’un développement endogène. La dimension inclusive de l’agenda et la prise en compte des inégalités amène à repenser le cadre des OMD sous un angle plus qualitatif. Plusieurs autres enjeux sont absents du cadre des OMD. C’est le cas des maladies non transmissibles, l’énergie, etc.

Le cadre de développement post 2015 que nous voulons

Le futur cadre post 2015 doit conserver l’ambition de définir un cadre de portée universelle à la forte puissance mobilisatrice et le principe d’un agenda centré sur un nombre restreint d’objectifs, assortis d’indicateurs et de cibles permettant de répondre au mieux aux différentes situations de développement des pays pauvres. Son processus d’élaboration devrait être plus participatif que ne l’a été celui des OMD.

L’universalité du cadre post 2015 ne sera pas seulement utile, mais essentielle pour améliorer la redevabilité sur les politiques de réduction de la pauvreté dans les pays en développement. Il serait opportun de prendre précisément en compte la question de la qualité des services délivrés, au cœur de la problématique de la redevabilité, en introduisant des nouveaux types d’indicateurs visant à mesurer l’impact des politiques de réduction de la pauvreté. Sur le plan financier, il convient de renouveler profondément les instruments de suivi du financement du développement pour tenir compte de la diversité croissante des situations nationales.

Le champ d’application du programme futur

L’objectif prioritaire du cadre post 2015 doit reposer sur les trois piliers : l’économique, le social et l’environnemental. Ce cadre doit être assez précis pour constituer un mandat actualisé aussi clair et mobilisateur tout en étant assez souples pour permettre son adaptation aux futures évolutions du contexte international du développement. Il doit définir des objectifs universels pour un développement durable et partagé pour tous les pays. Les cibles et les indicateurs pourront être déclinés dans certains cas de manière distincte selon le niveau de développement des pays notamment les pays pauvres. Ce nouvel agenda du développement doit pleinement prendre en compte l’ensemble des acteurs qui mènent des actions pour le développement ou ont la capacité d’en mener : pays donateurs et acteurs émergents, acteurs privés, entreprises ou fondations. Les OSC mais aussi autant que possible les populations pauvres dépourvues de représentativité institutionnalisée devront être consultées en amont, en marge et en aval des négociations pour pleinement intégrer leurs préoccupations. Le cadre post 2015 pourrait enfin permettre de mieux intégrer la représentation des acteurs non étatiques dans la gouvernance mondiale.

Financement du développement

La promotion d’un nouveau consensus en faveur du développement durable et inclusif pour l’après 2015 devra s’articuler à une nouvelle vision stratégique du financement du développement.  La position de Social Watch Bénin est centrée sur la nécessité de diversifier les sources de financement du développement durable dans son ensemble. Il faut une plus grande mobilisation des ressources domestiques, par un appui notamment aux réformes fiscales, au développement des financements privés, et des financements innovants, à un plus large recours aux partenariats financiers ainsi qu’au développement de nouveaux partenariats multi acteurs impliquant les acteurs émergents.

Le suivi du cadre post 2015 doit être plus participatif et transparent que ne l’a été l’évaluation de la réalisation des OMD afin d’accroître la redevabilité des gouvernements sur leur politique de lutte contre la pauvreté et leurs efforts pour garantir une transition vers des modèles de développement durables. Le système de suivi mis en place par les Nations-Unies, reposant sur les rapports préparés par les parties et les observations des organisations onusiennes, devrait donc mieux prendre en compte les évaluations menées par les autres acteurs du développement (étatiques ou non), surtout les retours des populations concernées par l’intermédiaire des OSC.

Défis prioritaires pour Social Watch Bénin

  1. Promouvoir le droit à l’alimentation et assurer des moyens de subsistance viables aux producteurs agricoles dans les Pays en développement ;
  2. Promouvoir les droits des femmes et l’égalité des sexes ;
  3. Promouvoir la santé et l’éducation pour tous ;
  4. Préserver l’environnement et le droit au logement ;
  5. Appuyer la gouvernance démocratique et la citoyenneté mondiale ;
  6. Promouvoir des règles économiques équitables ;
  7. Optimiser et accroître et  l’aide.

[1] Caroline Kende-Robb, Directrice exécutive de Africa Progress Panel

[2] MAEP, 2010

[3] Il s’agit de ceux relatifs : à la réduction de moitié l’extrême pauvreté, à la réduction de deux tiers le taux de mortalité des enfants, et de trois quarts celui des mères

[4] Rapports du SGNU sur les OMD mars 2010 et mars 2011


Development cooperation strategy and more social protection is needed

Since joining the Euro in 1999, Portugal has had the lowest growth in the Eurozone. Between 2001 and 2007 Portugal experienced only 1.1% average annual growth. The government deficit was -6.5% of GDP in 2005 and it was -3.1% in 2007. When the global financial crisis occurred, a drop in tax revenues and the money allocation to support commercial banks, led to further increases in the government deficit and in general gross debt. At 108.1% in 2011, Portugal had the third highest general government gross debt to GDP ratio in Europe (EU27), behind only Greece and Italy (Eurostat, 2012a). As debt continued to grow investors were unwilling to lend and in May 2011 Portugal was the third country to seek a ‘bailout’ from the EU-ECB-IMF troika. The austerity measures accorded between the Portuguese Government and troika, are responsible for major setbacks. Many basic economic and social rights that were guaranteed are now being either questioned or neglected. In this scenario, the development cooperation public policy that contributed significantly to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) also suffered a major negative shift.

João José Fernandes, Pedro Krupenski


Since joining the Euro in 1999, Portugal has had the lowest growth in the Eurozone. Between 2001 and 2007 Portugal experienced only 1.1% average annual growth. The government deficit was -6.5% of GDP in 2005 and it was -3.1% in 2007. When the global financial crisis occurred, a drop in tax revenues and the money allocation to support commercial banks, led to further increases in the government deficit and in general gross debt. At 108.1% in 2011, Portugal had the third highest general government gross debt to GDP ratio in Europe (EU27), behind only Greece and Italy (Eurostat, 2012a ). As debt continued to grow investors were unwilling to lend and in May 2011 Portugal was the third country to seek a ‘bailout’ from the EU-ECB-IMF troika[1]. The austerity measures accorded between the Portuguese Government and troika, are responsible for major setbacks. Many basic economic and social rights that were guaranteed are now being either questioned or neglected. In this scenario, the development cooperation public policy that contributed significantly to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) also suffered a major negative shift.

Policy Response to 2008 Financial Crisis

The policy response to the 2008 financial crisis, was the implementation of a progressive stringent set of austerity measures: freezing of nearly all insurance benefits and pensions, reducing the pensions tax allowance, reduction in means-tested unemployment assistance, family benefit and social assistance, increase in standard VAT rate (from 20% to 23%) including increasing the VAT on natural gas and electricity to standard rate, increase in income tax rates and reductions of tax credits, public sector pay cuts (up to 10%), reductions in numbers of employees in central Government and across public administration generally (Leahy, et al., 2013 ). According to OECD, in September 2011, the Portuguese Government announced an 11% reduction in the NHS budget for 2012, twice the budget cut under the EU/IMF bailout agreement. The actual figures of OECD indicate that spending in health for the year 2011 fell 5.2% compared to 2010 when the average of all countries of the organization was a growth of 0.7%. The objective for the Public spending on health, in 2013, is to achieve just over 5.1% of gross domestic product (GDP), while the average in the euro area is estimated to be approximately 7% (Morgan, et al., 2013 ).

Amongst the measures proposed for 2012/13 are: reductions in pensions (with different approaches to different levels: including cuts for those with pensions of between €600-€1,000 per month, and freezing of pensions below €600 per month, with potential marginal increases for those on the lowest levels), controlling costs in the health sector, reductions in costs in education by €380m, reductions in social transfers (other than pensions) of at least €180m by tightening eligibility criteria and decreasing some benefits, increasing personal income tax, reductions in numbers and in wages of government employees. In 2013, the Government and the EU-ECB-IMF Troika will decide a further permanent cut of 4 billion Euros in public expenditure, mainly related to the welfare state (heath, education, pensions and social protection) (Leahy, et al., 2013).

Economic and social setbacks

Increasing unemployment, impoverishment and increasing vulnerability of the powerless groups and communities are the major consequences of austerity policies.


Portugal unemployment rate estimated for the 4th quarter of 2012 was 16.9%. This value is up 2.9% from the same quarter of 2011 according to a release from the National Statistics Institute. There were 923.2 thousand unemployed people, which corresponds to a year-on-year increase of 19.7% (more 152.2 thousand of jobless people). There were 4.5 million employed people, which corresponds to a year-on-year decrease of 4.3% a (less 203.6 thousand of employed people) (Fontes, 2013 ).Portugal Youth Unemployment Rate in January 2013 is at 38.60%, compared to January 34.60% last year and 23,40% in January 2009. This is much higher than the long term average of 17.55% . These reported figures are missing the increasing number of emigrants (near 100 thousand in 2012, especially skilled young people) and the increasing number of long-term unemployed who have given up actively seeking employment.


As common acknowledged there is a time-lag in the availability of data on comparable poverty measures across Europe. Figures are now published for Portugal for 2011 (with a 2010 reference period), but this still doesn't represent the full impact of austerity policies.  However, enough evidence exists to conclude that Portugal has a high rate of 'poverty and social exclusion', which is the combined indicator used under the Europe 2020 strategy. The rate of 24.4% in 2011 represents 2.6 million people (source, Eurostat, 2012b ). Portugal’s rate is higher than the EU27 average rate of 23.4% (2010) (Eurostat, 2012b). Portugal’s child poverty rate fell between 2004 and 2007, but there was a sizable increase between 2007 and 2008 and the rate has remained at about that level since. The 2010 rate is above the EU27 average: the average rate was 20.5%, while Portugal’s rate was 22.4% (2010 and 2011) (Eurostat, 2012c ). The risk of poverty rate for people aged 65+ in Portugal was 21% in 2010.This is higher than the EU27 average of 16% (2010). The rate of poverty in Portugal for working people who still do not earn enough to protect them from poverty (the working poor) is 10.3% (2011), which is above the 2010 EU27 average of 8.4% (in 2010). Beyond these official figures, there is a public perception of increasing impoverishment. Near 300 thousand people depend on Portuguese charities for their food security and more than 10 thousand children have their first meal at public schools.

Impacts on Vulnerable Groups

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe reported on concerns for vulnerable groups in Portugal following a visit in May 2012. Among these groups he highlighted the situation of children, older people and Roma people. The Commissioner drew attention to how the combined effects of unemployment, cuts in salaries, increased taxes and reduced social and unemployment benefits has resulted in growing poverty among many Portuguese families. The Commissioner (Muižnieks, 2012 ) noted that:

  • Child poverty is on the rise in Portugal, as a result of increasing unemployment and following the adoption of austerity measures in 2010 and 2011. Cuts in child care benefits in 2010 and 2012 were particularly severe and had a significant impact on the income of many families with children and consequently, on a range of children’s rights. The increasing prices of health care and public transportation as well as the increasing number of evictions as a result of nonpayment of mortgages have also had a particularly negative impact on children’s rights. Budgetary stringency is also affecting education, including higher education. For instance, the reduction in the number of scholarships for university students reportedly led to a number of students giving up their studies. All of these factors suggest the risk of a resurgence of child labor, notably in the informal economic sector and agriculture.
  • The elderly are vulnerable to poverty and are adversely affected by the fiscal austerity measures which have resulted in the lowering of incomes due to the freezing of pensions, cuts in social benefits, increases in costs of health care, public transport, gas, electricity and food, affecting especially those living in isolated rural areas.
  • Roma continue to suffer from social exclusion and various forms of discrimination, particularly as regards housing, education and access to employment. The Commissioner notes with concern that action taken by some local authorities, such as depriving Roma settlements of access to water, has been in breach of fundamental European human rights standards. The fact that many Roma pupils are taught in separate classes also remains of particular concern to the Commissioner who firmly believes that integration into mainstream education should be favored so as to ensure that all Roma pupils have equal access to quality education.

According to Charity groups, the Portuguese Government’s response, especially under the Social Emergency Program, is not able to deal with the suffering caused by the crisis and the austerity measures. The crisis is not well understood by many people leaving those affected without hope (Caritas Portuguesa, 2012).

MDG and Portuguese Cooperation for Development Policy

Portugal considered the MDG “one of the greatest international challenges facing the world (then)”. MDG were integrated in the 2005 five yearlong national cooperation strategy[2] and set as one of the top priorities for the Official Development Aid (ODA). In 2006, operational plans were discussed and approved on a national level to deliver the strategy and those goals.

According to the official assessment[3] that took place in 2009, the plans were successfully implemented, in order to make the architectural, instrumental and financial adjustments to deliver the strategy.

In fact, MDG were mainstreamed in all Portuguese Development Cooperation, the Portuguese ODA contribution to MDG was accurately monitored and strong public support to the MGD were some of the positive achievements.

In 2010 a Council of Ministers Resolution was issued[4] to promote policy coherence by consolidating the integration of the international commitments Portugal was bounded to and align all national policies that were related to developing countries with the cooperation for development policy, in order to “increase the national external policy visibility and the effectiveness of the Portuguese public role on the fulfillment of the MDG”.

In 2011, a new government was elected. Ever since, the public cooperation for development policy has been subjected to the economic diplomacy and the promotion of the Portuguese language demands. The alibi to this shift is the national need to capture foreign investment and internationalize the Portuguese economy as means to take Portugal out of the economic and financial crisis that is going through. There are no official documents that support these options. However, all the measures that have been adopted (like merging the former Development Agency with Instituto Camões, the former institute that promoted Portuguese language throughout the world) are eloquent about these political options.

The lack of openness and clarity about the current development cooperation policies also threatens some other commitments that Portugal assumed by signing the Forth High Level Forum for Aid Effectiveness outcome [5] like the transparency and predictability of aid as effectiveness of aid principles.

In what regards transparency, Portugal is on the 59th position among 72 donors on the 2012 Transparency Index[6] issued by Publish What You Fund (PWYF), thus being classified as 2poor” in terms of transparency.

A changing world and the fact that the 2005 had reached its self-established lifetime demanded a new strategy. So far no new strategy is in place. Deep changes are needed.


In 2002, Portugal was part of the Monterrey Summit where donors committed to allocate 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI) to ODA.

Ever since, the Public Budget allocated to ODA suffered several fluctuations. An average of 0.28% of GNI has been allocated to ODA since 2002. However, if we dismiss the 561 million Euros effect of debt relief to Angola, made in 2004, the average goes down to 0.24% of GNI to ODA.

Thus, Portugal is below the average European ratio GNI/ODA witch is 0.34% after the enlargement of the European Union to the Eastern countries. Before that, the average was 0.52%, almost the double of the Portuguese average.

The “untying of aid” (aid that is not related to the obligation of the partner country to purchase products and/or services from the donor country) was a commitment that was included in the Millennium Declaration. DAC/ODCE issued a recommendation about the untying of aid to the development countries that was subscribed by Portugal in 2005. In this recommendation ODCE sets a list of criteria to define what is and what is not ODA and advises the donors not to cross a certain percentage of tied aid. Since 2009 the increase of ODA volume has been done partially through tied aid. 2011 data shows that 72.5% of ODA is tied aid, representing an increase of 15.1% between 2010 and 2011. This increase is officially justified with the relevant weight of the concessional loans from Portugal to Developing Countries and also with the recent requalification made by ODCE of aid to refugees and public awareness raising for development issues as means (in certain cases) of ODA.


Given the high levels of unemployment and poverty already being experienced in Portugal, and the findings that early measures disproportionately affected poorer people, very serious impacts might be anticipated on vulnerable groups, putting at risk the more elementary economic, social and cultural rights. For these reason, we highly recommend the implementation of a human rights based approach to national budget and welfare state reform, allowing the social protection of the powerless and dis-empowered groups.

In what concerns Development Cooperation Policy, and as a lesson learned from the financial crisis, we believe it should become a State Policy. As a government policy is subjected to all electoral and economic cycles and the respective changes that often occur despite the commitments made with partner countries, Civil Society and most important with the people in needs. It is also crucial that Portugal sets the means to meet the “untying of aid” commitments as by not doing so is deliberately stealing with one hand what gave with the other. It is highly recommended that Portugal aligns with Busan principles, namely with transparency and predictability, to allow fostering both accountability of its practices and strategic programing to its partners.


[1] Troika is the name given to the Portugal creditors group composed by the European Commission (EC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

[2] “A Strategic Vision for Portuguese Development Cooperation”

[3] “  Assessment of the Strategic Vision for Portuguese Development Cooperation”

[4] Published in Diário da República  on the 4th  of  November 2010 and available at http://www.ipad.mne.gov.pt//CentroRecursos/Biblioteca/Documents/0496504966.pdf

[5] The high level forum took place in Busan, South Korea in November 2011. The outcome document can be found at http://www.dev-practitioners.eu/fileadmin/Redaktion/Documents/Post-Busan_03_2012/Busan_FINAL_EN.pdf?PHPSESSID=676429f1ff11085f8399f01af656fbbc

[6] Pilot Aid Transparency Index 2012, issued by Publish What You Fund, available at http://www.publishwhatyoufund.org/files/2012-Aid-Transparency-Index_web-singles.pdf

Eurostat, 2012a. General Government Gross Debt, tsdde410 [Online] (Updated, 26.10.12). Available at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&plugin=1&language=en&pcode=tsdde410  accessed 06 march 2013.

Leahy, A., Healy, S., Murphy, M. (2013). Caritas Europa Report: The Impact of the European Crisis. Report prepared by Social Justice Ireland for Caritas Europa.

Morgan, D. and R. Astolfi (2013), “Health Spending Growth at Zero: Which Countries, Which Sectors Are Most Affected?”, OECD Health Working Papers, No. 60, OECD. Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k4dd1st95xv-en

Fontes, N. (2013). Portugal Unemployment Rate Up to 16.9 percent in Q4. Analysis based data from INE. Available at: <http://www.tradingeconomics.com/portugal/unemployment-rate > Accessed on 05 March 2013.

Ycharts (2013). Portugal Youth Unemployment Rate:38.60% for Jan 2013. Available at: http://ycharts.com/indicators/portugal_youth_unemployment_rate_lfs  accessed on 06 March 2013.

Eurostat, 2012b. Headline Targets. t2020_50, 51,52,53 [Online] (Updated 8.11.12) Available at  http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/europe_2020_indicators/headline_indicators  accessed, 6 March 2013).

Eurostat, 2012c. At Risk of Poverty Rate by Detailed Age Group, tessi120 [Online] (Updated 9.11.12) Available at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tessi120&plugin=1accessed, 6 March 2013.

Muižnieks, N., Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, 2012. Report following his Visit to Portugal, 7-9 May 2012. CommDH(2012)22. Strasbourg: 10 July 2012. Available at https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=2134231&SecMode=1&DocId=1919090&Usage=2 accessed, 6 March 2013.

Caritas Portuguesa, 2012. Crisis in Portugal: Context, Challenges and Hopes.


Ecological agriculture is the way out of poverty

Experiences of farmer organizations and people’s organizations over the last 15 years show that ecological agriculture is a very effective way of overcoming hunger and poverty and of reducing ill health, and ecological destruction caused by conventional chemical farming. Over a hundred organizations of farmers, fishers, women, plantation workers and industrial workers have struggled in Sri Lanka for a more logical, workable and people friendly approach and strategy for economic improvement, reduction of poverty and hunger and for social justice. Today they are able to present a very workable alternative approach to the economy and development process in the country. It has succeeded in getting the Government to accept some aspects of this strategy at least as election promises. It is a strategy that is relevant to the current world situation and a strategy that can be worked out to a considerable degree.

Compiled by Sarath Fernando

This Sri Lanka National Report is based on the experiences of action and struggle in Sri Lanka for about 20 years for a more logical, workable and people friendly approach and strategy for economic improvement, reduction of poverty and hunger and for social justice.

Over a hundred organizations of farmers, fishers, women, plantation workers and industrial workers have joined and contributed to these activities. Today we are able to present a very workable alternative approach to the economy and development process in the country. It has succeeded in getting the Government to accept some aspects of this strategy at least as election promises.  It is a strategy that is relevant to the current world situation and a strategy that can be worked out to a considerable degree, even without active and honest support of government.

The main thesis

In order to face the current crisis of MDG failure to reduce hunger and poverty new strategies have to be formulated and new planners and decision makers are necessary. The failures of the present leaders of powerful countries and the international institutions they have set up to find effective solutions to the many crises that the world is facing shows that it is foolish to expect the very creators of these crises to find solutions.

Thus it is necessary to think of new strategies and new planners and decision makers to find effective solutions.

In finding solutions it is necessary to find ways in which the poor and hungry people take over the tasks of overcoming hunger and poverty. Since they do not have capital and since borrowed capital not be expected to support a process that does not benefit capital such a strategy will have to depend on capital to a minimum. Thus, free gifts of nature are utilized to the maximum

In Sri Lanka’s situation we have found that the most effective way of ending hunger and poverty is by allowing nature to make its maximum contribution to this process. Sri Lanka still has a very large percentage of small farmers who are concerned primarily with producing their food. Thus, they grow rice, main food, vegetables, pulses, yams and potatoes etc.

In 1996 the World Bank guided the government of Sri Lanka to adopt policies that would push these people out of their land and agriculture, getting them to migrate into cities and find non-farm employment.: (Ref: Non Plantation Sector Policy alternatives: WB report 1996). This however, has not worked in Sri Lanka and still large numbers of people live in rural areas. Youth in Sri Lanka have waged three armed rebellion that killed around 10,000 in 1971, about 60,000 in 1988 -90 (UN Committee on involuntary disappearances visiting Sri Lanka in 1991) and over several hundred thousand in the northern war that lasted for 30 years Trying to make the country attractive to foreign investment over the last 36 years has failed and only cost the country a tremendous increase in foreign debt. More recently the governments have declared various programmes for rural small farmers’ agricultural improvement. Programmes such as "Divineguma" (livelihood improvement), "Gamaneguma" (improvement of village), "Gemi Diriya" (courage of villagers, "Api Wawamu" "Rata Nagamu" (let grow and Build the Nation) have all being saying about utilizing the possibilities of rural small holders to grow their own food. However, these programmes have been influenced by agro chemical companies for their interests and thus the programs are not carried out with a right vision and approach.  Governments still continue in the same direction of improving massive infrastructure, building express highways, international airports and harbors, tourist zones etc which have failed to achieve the declared objective of expanding exports attracting foreign investment, achieving faster economic growth, expecting it to trickle down and reduce poverty. This is just to be able to get more and more foreign loans. The burdens of these debts are transferred to the poor while the rich and investors get very large tax holidays.

Experiences of farmers in Sri Lanka

Experiences of farmer organizations and people’s organizations over the last 15 to 2 years show that ecological agriculture is a very effective way of overcoming hunger and poverty and of reducing ill health, and ecological destruction caused by conventional chemical farming. Further this has become very expensive since all chemical inputs are imported. Government has had to spend huge sums of money to provide chemical fertilizer at subsidized prices (about a hundred billion is spent annually on the fertilizer subsidy alone). It has now been found that chemical agriculture leads to severe health problems and death. In Padaviya in the North Central Province around 20,000 people have died of a mysterious kidney disease proved to be caused by arsenic or Cadmium poisoning due to chemical agricultural inputs. In the North Central Province the people affected by this disease is over a hundred thousand. It is spreading to other areas too since this practice is island wide. Cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and many other diseases are caused by these.

Thus, it is definitely necessary and quite possible to transform chemical input dependent agriculture in Sri Lanka into a much more beneficial form of ecological agriculture.

In doing this it is necessary to give an emphasis to the necessary transformation in the hill country, which is almost entirely covered by tea grown as a monoculture plantation. There is a very important need to attend to in the hill country agriculture and land use.

When the British started tea plantations they brought cheap labour from India. Over a million people were thus brought and kept under conditions of semi slavery. They were kept under miserable conditions, very low conditions of housing, health, education etc. In 1947, they were deprived of citizenship since it was feared that they would vote for the left parties. When Sri Lanka got independence these workers did not get any independence and they are even today kept under the same conditions. Plantations today are a dying industry, the soil has got completely eroded and less productive. Therefore, people’s organizations demand that these plantation people should be given land ownership and they should be assisted and guided to do ecological agriculture. We have found that about 40 % of plantation youth have got some education now and are unemployed. They do not want to be employed as plantation labour under the present degrading conditions. Transforming the hill country into an ecologically sound form of agriculture, with the highest elevations reforested and rest of the land convered into diversified agriculture growing fruits, vegetables, timber and also animal husbandry can best be done by the plantation people themselves.

In the experience of rural farmer organizations such ecological agriculture can be tremendously productive and extremely beneficial. Overcoming the poisoning of the hill country with chemical farming is essential since the hill country is the major catchment area. Heaviest rainfall is in the hill country and this rainfall is carried to the plains right round by around 200 rivers. So storage of water in the hill country by improving the forest cover and overcoming erosion is essential for the whole country. Ecological agriculture can also provide nourishing and diversified food to the people, and plantation people are the most undernourished section of the population.

This transformation needs to be done in all other parts of the country.

The essential elements of ecological agriculture are:

  1. Protection and improvement of top soil be preventing erosion (building ridges and mulching)
  2. Making maximum use of sunlight by growing a variety of trees, growing to different canopies,
  3. Complete recycling of all organic matter and utilizing animal waste for increasing microbial activity for soil fertility improvement
  4. Avoiding the use of chemical pesticides (allowing insects to do their job),weedicides ( stopping the killing of microbes, allowing them to o their task of soil fertility improvement ) and avoiding the use of chemical fertilizer (allowing the enhancement of microbial activity and avoiding soil and water poisoning)
  5. Maximum diversity of plants to reduce pest losses and improve bio diversity
  6. Improving forest cover to reduce erosion and get other benefits.

These principles can be applied in all parts of the country. Farmer organizations and their networks have begun to do this over the last 10 – 15 years and there are about a thousand villages where the benefits and methods can be demonstrated.

How this can be further propagated

It is useful if all people’s organizations and NGOs understand and engage themselves in this strategy. It is very important to initiate dialogue with all political parties, development organizations, scientists and scholars and all those involved in development dialogue about the effectiveness and urgency of this strategy.

Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on right to food presented a paper several months ago that it is possible to overcome hunger by adopting ecological agriculture. Using examples of many countries, particularly in Africa when environmental conditions are difficult, that food production can be doubled within 3 to 10 years adopting ecological agriculture.

IAASTED (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development) a very high level research done by 400 scientists, working for 4 years, studying many countries of the world said that there are very strong weaknesses in agriculture so far. They were that it was not sufficiently socially concerned and it was not environmentally concerned. These need to be corrected. This shows that the global trend has begun to change.


We suggest that in Sri Lanka, a country that has failed miserably to treat its youth justly and rationally should adopt a strategy of reorienting the entire field of youth education to help youth to develop ecological agriculture as a way of building a new scientific and dignified profession. Around 300,000 students sit for the GCE advanced level exam and around 120,000 pass with sufficient marks to enter universities. However universities absorb only less than 20,000. So, around a 100,000 most intelligent and hard working youth are stranded annually. This is the breeding ground for youth rebellion. This can be overcome by giving then opportunities to become new professional and experts playing a very useful role of transforming the country.

We have found that this can be done at very low cost. Using a small plot of land of (say ¼ acre) it is possible to get an additional output of around Rs. 3,000 or 4,000 a month at practically no other cost of production. A youth instructor who can be trained easily within a month in basic aspects of ecological home gardening can attend to about 30 home gardens visiting each of them weekly. If the beneficiary pays this instructor about Rs. 300 a month, he /she can get a remuneration of around Rs. 10,000 a month which is equivalent to a graduates staring salary. They can be provided higher education opportunities over the weekends and be given a diploma after some time. Thus government can do this with very little additional cost. The savings to the country in terms of health, environmental improvement, water improvement and more important a creative contribution from all people is possible.

We suggest that this process of transformation should be begun by people themselves with initiation by people’s organizations. When this is sufficiently built to a demonstrative scale people must begin to actively reject conventional chemical agriculture and eating such unhealthy food. This should be done ignoring Government, until they begin to accept this. We have to continue lobbying all the time.


El amargo sabor de la piña

Costa Rica ha presentado hacia el exterior una imagen de país sostenible y comprometido con el medio ambiente, pero la realidad interna es muy distinta. La tensión entre la conservación y la actividad productiva provocan una creciente conflictividad social por el uso del territorio. Como un ejemplo del (in)cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio abordamos el caso de la producción agroindustrial de piña, que ha ido sitiando comunidades y zonas protegidas, y desplazando a cultivos tradicionales de importancia alimentaria. Causa gran preocupación, además, el paquete tecnológico agrotóxico utilizado sistemáticamente, que provoca la contaminación de fuentes hídricas. Entre 2003 y 2009 se presentaron más de 120 denuncias contra la producción piñera ante el Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo y el Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones.

Eva Carazo - Carlos Pentzke
CEP Alforja


En Costa Rica se dan dos tendencias que preocupan a los expertos de la cuestión ambiental. Por un lado, la creación de áreas protegidas y la agenda de conservación no son suficientes para manejar los territorios de manera sostenible, de manera que se reduzca el impacto que tienen las formas de producir en la calidad y disponibilidad de los recursos naturales. Por otro lado la manera en que la población utiliza los recursos, de forma insostenible, provocan que en el 2011 un 8% más del territorio disponible se use para satisfacer la demanda de recursos naturales. Además la tensión que se produce entre la conservación y la actividad productiva, desarrollan una creciente conflictividad social por el uso del territorio, dentro y fuera de las áreas protegidas.

En este escenario  el Estado costarricense ha  tomado la  posición de abandonar la prioridad política de los desafíos ambientales y se ha convertido más bien en generador de conflictos. El Estado es parte del problema, ya sea por lo que no ha hecho o por lo que ha hecho.

El año 2011 muestra que se profundizaron las principales tendencias en el ámbito ambiental: se recupero la cobertura forestal,  se ampliaron las áreas protegidas marinas, pero no se avanzó en la protección de humedales; persiste la utilización de hidrocarburos sobre todo en el transporte público y en el sector de producción de energía eléctrica; se produjo una reducción de la agricultura orgánica y no hubo reducción sustancial de la utilización de agroquímicos. Esto sucede en un contexto de ausencia de planificación del territorio y con un incremento, ya señalado, de la conflictividad social.

Uno de los principales conflictos ambientales ha sido el relacionado con el cultivo de la piña, que en abril de 2012, llevó a la Municipalidad de Pococí a decretar una moratoria en dicho cultivo por la contaminación de las aguas. Como un ejemplo de la situación costarricense de cara al (in)cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, en particular el relacionado con garantizar la sostenibilidad del medio ambiente, abordamos el caso de la producción agroindustrial de piña.

Dulce, amarillo y amargo[2]

Costa Rica se ha caracterizado por presentar una imagen internacional como un país sostenible y comprometido con el medio ambiente, sin embargo la realidad interna es muy distinta. La producción agroindustrial de la piña es un caso que vale la pena indagar.

De acuerdo con la Cámara Nacional de Productores de Piña CANAPEP, el área sembrada de piña en Costa Rica aumentó un 675% entre 1990 y 2009, pasando de menos de 10.000 a más de 50.000 has. Las empresas Del Monte y PINDECO concentran el 50% de la producción piñera en Costa Rica, y 31 empresas concentran el 96% de la producción total de esta fruta. El 4% restante está en manos de aproximadamente 1200 pequeños agricultores que venden su producción a las grandes empresas, especialmente Dole, Del Monte, Fyffes y Chiquita.

De forma simultánea a la expansión piñera, el área dedicada a la siembra de cultivos de importancia alimentaria como arroz, frijol y maíz ha caído significativamente. La piña ha ido desplazando la producción alimentaria en el país, e incluso sitiando zonas de protección como el Refugio de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro. Según el Área de Conservación Huetar Norte, las piñeras son las principales responsables del daño ambiental de los humedales de Caño Negro.

Además de la expansión del monocultivo de piña y el correspondiente desplazamiento de áreas protegidas, comunidades y formas tradicionales de agricultura alimentaria en el país, existe una gran preocupación por el paquete tecnológico agrotóxico utilizado sistemáticamente en la producción piñera agroindustrial. Por ejemplo, en esta actividad se consumen entre 30 y 38 kg/ha al año de plaguicidas, cifra superada únicamente en la producción de banano. En el cantón de Siquirres, las comunidades de Cairo, Luisiana, Milano y La Francia tienen más de cuatro años de recibir agua en camiones cisterna, porque las fuentes hídricas que utilizaban antes fueron contaminadas por el uso del herbicida bromacil en las plantaciones de piña que las rodean.

En la región Caribe costarricense, los gobiernos locales de los cantones de Guácimo (en 2008) y Pococí (en 2012) acordaron una moratoria que impide aprobar en sus territorios nuevas actividades derivadas o relacionadas con la siembra, expansión, industrialización, exportación, distribución y comercialización de piña. En este proceso han tenido el apoyo de las comunidades locales y de instituciones como la Universidad de Costa Rica y la Defensoría de los Habitantes.

Los principales argumentos utilizados para las moratorias son los impactos ambientales negativos que se han comprobado para la producción de piña, tales como la erosión y contaminación con agrotóxicos de zonas de recarga acuífera, ríos y aguas subterráneas, o el mal manejo de aguas residuales. También los casos de pérdida de biodiversidad y de envenenamiento de la vida silvestre por plaguicidas, la contaminación del aire con fungicidas, la aparición de moscas y plagas por el mal manejo de desechos, así como una alta concentración de sustancias tóxicas en los cabellos y la orina de mujeres embarazadas, niñas y niños habitantes de comunidades cercanas a las plantaciones de piña.

Se mencionan igualmente impactos sociales negativos como el aumento de problemas sanitarios (incidencia de dengue, enfermedades respiratorias y psicológicas), disminución de los indicadores de desarrollo social y aumento de la polarización entre grandes propietarios ricos y personas asalariadas pobres. Igualmente, la exención de impuestos a la exportación de piña, a diferencia de la producción bananera que era común en estas zonas, ha incidido negativamente en las finanzas de los gobiernos locales.

Entre 2003 y 2009 se presentaron ante el Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo y el Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones más de 120 denuncias contra la producción piñera en todo el país. Los motivos más frecuentes de denuncia fueron la tala de bosques, apertura ilegal de caminos, invasión y cambio de uso de tierras, invasión de zonas protegidas, ausencia de los debidos Estudios de Impacto Ambiental, manejo inapropiado de desechos, abuso de agroquímicos, contaminación y usurpación de aguas, problemas de salud, incumplimiento de derechos laborales y persecución sindical.

Los sectores turístico, ganadero y comunal de la zona norte de Costa Rica están procurando acuerdos de moratoria similares a los de Guácimo y Pococí, como la única vía para proteger sus territorios y formas de vida frente a la expansión indiscriminada del tóxico cultivo de piña.


[1] La información de la introducción , ha sido elaborada en base al Programa Estado de la Nación en Desarrollo Humano Sostenible//Programa Estado de la Nación-17 ed.-CR: El Programa 2012, págs...65,66,71. Programa

[2] La información aquí indicada proviene de los acuerdos municipales de Guácimo y Pococí, y de las investigaciones desarrolladas por el programa Kioskos Socioambientales de la Universidad de Costa Rica. Todos estos documentos están disponibles en http://kioscosambientales.ucr.ac.cr
Para ampliar sobre este tema se puede consultar también el sitio web del Frente Nacional de Sectores Afectados por la Producción Piñera FRENASAPP, en www.detrasdelapina.org.
El documental “El amargo sabor de la piña”, que le da nombre a este informe, está disponible en: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR1xtokRnFc


El cumplimiento de los ODM en peligro inminente

El cumplimiento de los ODM en Nicaragua está en inminente peligro debido a las serias dificultades que enfrenta en virtud de varios factores, como el escaso crecimiento económico, el aumento de la población que demanda alimentos y trabajo, y la creciente corrupción. Aunque hay avances en algunos de ellos, no son suficientes y no se acercan a la meta. El modelo agroexportador, que hasta hoy solo ha generado empleos precarios e informales que condenan a vivir bajo el umbral de la pobreza a las personas que los desempeñan, y un sistema tributario regresivo le están cerrando al país la posibilidad de aprovechar la oportunidad histórica de la transición democrática.

Organizado por: Licenciado Roberto Velásquez
Coordinadora Civil


El informe que a continuación se presenta sobre el cumplimiento de los objetivos de desarrollo del milenio en Nicaragua, es una síntesis elaborada con información producida en documentos oficiales de la coordinadora civil, la cual refleja la visión y enfoque de derechos humanos que asume esta alianza de organizaciones. Igual se ha consultado a otros actores como medios de comunicación y naciones unidas. Este diagnóstico es un reflejo de la realidad en el cumplimiento de los Objetivos de desarrollo del milenio en Nicaragua.

En el año 2000, Nicaragua acordó ante Naciones Unidas los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, los cuales tienen como misión la superación de la pobreza en la cual está sumido el País, Identificado como el segundo país más pobre de América Latina.

Uno de los ocho objetivos se refiere a establecer alianzas mundiales, con el fin de mejorar las relaciones entre los países desarrollados con los menos desarrollados, en materia de políticas de comercio, inversión, ayuda externa  y condonación de la deuda externa, clave para alcanzar sin dudas los otros siete objetivos tales como: Erradicar el hambre, alcanzar la educación primaria universal, la equidad entre los géneros, bajar la mortalidad infantil, mejorar la salud materna, combatir el virus del Sida y otras pandemias, así como promover el cuidado ambiental.

A poco tiempo del 2015 para alcanzar esa meta, el cumplimiento de los ODM está encontrando serias dificultades, consecuencia de Varios factores. Primero: Porque aún se continúa siendo el segundo país más pobre de la región (con una población de 5,8 millones de personas, donde el 47 por ciento viven en la pobreza) con insuficiente financiamiento y poca capacidad de gestión para lograrlo, y Segundo: Porque el país se encuentra enfrentando serios problemas de gobernabilidad, entre ellos los más determinantes han sido la suma de tres fraudes electorales en los años 2008, 2011 y 2012 dejando al País condenado a un Régimen Autoritario que ha venido Desmantelando la débil institucionalidad y el Estado de Derecho, atropellado los más elementales derechos humanos de las y los Nicaragüenses.

El plazo se está venciendo y el compromiso para combatir la pobreza y las desigualdades es vinculante para todos los y las nicaragüenses, sin embargo estamos muy distantes de su cumplimiento. Además se plantea el reto de que no solo se trata de cumplir por cumplir dichos Objetivos (del Milenio), sino también que nuestro pueblo tenga verdadera y equitativamente acceso a mejor educación, salud, Alimentos nutricionales y programas de educación. Que por un lado ayuden eficazmente a combatir el Sida, la Mortalidad infantil y que por otro ayuden a Proteger el Medio ambiente.

Para ello el Gobierno tenía el compromiso de cumplir con dichas  Metas del Milenio, pero en el proceso se dieron enormes dificultades y Compromisos que están inconclusos. Razón por lo cual la ciudadanía se ha organizado de distintas y diversas formas (a pesar de que en el País no existe un ambiente habilitante) para contribuir al desarrollo de los mismos, asumiendo a la vez los principios de Estambul recientemente aprobados y en ese accionar Coordinadora Civil ha tomado posiciones si bien es cierto críticas, pero a la vez ha hecho importantes propuestas en relación con el fortalecimiento del Estado y la reducción de pobreza y un ejemplo de ello es la reciente propuesta de Justicia Fiscal impulsada entre 2012 y 2013 en el País, denominada “Hacia un sistema Tributario más justo y equitativo”, la cual se llevó a cabo en conjunto con la Alianza Tributaria, mediante un proceso de 400 talleres en todo el País, de Consulta, análisis y fortalecimiento de la misma con la participación de más de 10,000 ciudadanos, Diversos representantes de Organizaciones sociales, Empresa privada, Universidades, Diputados e inclusive funcionarios de Gobierno.

La imperdonable decisión de no invertir el 7% del PIB en educación

Nicaragua debería llegar a 2015 con una cobertura de 100 por ciento de la educación primaria para cumplir el segundo ODM, partiendo de una base de 75% de niños matriculados en 1998.

Según uno de los últimos reportes de cumplimiento de los ODM en Nicaragua, la matrícula escolar era de 80%, y por cada 10 niños y niñas que ingresaban a primer grado, sólo cuatro lograban egresar en sexto grado.

Por otro lado Según cifras del Ministerio de Educación (MINED) señalan que la tasa de culminación de la educación secundaria es del 44%; esto significa que apenas 4.5 jóvenes de ambos sexos de cada 10 en edad de asistir a secundaria se matriculan en este nivel educativo yque solo 4.4 de cada 10 que logran matricularse en secundaria logran completarla.

El hecho de que un porcentaje importante de niños, niñas y adolescentes no logren culminar la educación primaria, que menos de la mitad de los que deberían asistir a secundaria lo hagan, y que de ellos menos de la mitad logre culminarla, determina que los jóvenes nicaragüenses se incorporan al mercado laboral con niveles de escolaridad extremadamente bajos y dada la alta correlación que existe entre niveles de escolaridad y el ingreso laboral que las personas lograrán alcanzar, esto condena a gran parte de estos jóvenes a percibir ingresos laborales durante su vida adulta, que los mantendrán bajo el umbral de la pobreza. Pues se requieren al menos 11 años de escolaridad – la secundaria completa – para obtener un ingreso laboral que comience a superar el umbral de la pobreza. Y la mayor parte de los jóvenes no logra alcanzarese nivel de escolaridad. Es así que las repercusiones del bajísimo nivel de escolaridad de que adolece la mayor parte de la fuerza de trabajo, son extremas. El análisis de la estructura del mercado laboral nicaragüense muestra además que casi 7 de cada 10 empleos en Nicaragua son empleos precarios en el sector informal.

Mayoritariamente, se trata de empleos en los que predominan el auto empleo y los empleos sin remuneración, desempeñados principalmente por familiares, y asalariados de micro unidades informales. Estos empleos generan unos ingresos muy bajos, que mantienen a quienes los desempeñan bajo el umbral de la pobreza,  Una razón fundamental del predominio de este tipo de empleos es que la economía nicaragüense está generando, mayoritariamente, el único tipo de empleos que puede absorber a una fuerza de trabajo con las características de la nicaragüense.

En cierto sentido, el modelo económico-político agro exportador y con un sistema tributario regresivo es entre otras cosas lo que está cerrando la oportunidad a Nicaragua de aprovechar la oportunidad histórica de la transición democrática (BONO DEMOGRÁFICO). Este modelo agro exportador lo único que hasta hoy ha generado es Empleos precarios e informales que condenan a quienes los desempeñan a sobrevivir bajo el umbral de la pobreza.

Nicaragua está invirtiendo cinco veces menos presupuesto que algunos países del área con economías muy similares a los nuestros.

Con la cantidad de recursos que Nicaragua ha venido destinando desde hace más de una década en educación y que según los últimos dos años 2012 y 2013 promedia menos del 3% del Presupuesto General no se cumplirá jamás la meta, y por el contrario, se ampliará la brecha de niñez fuera del sistema escolar.

La inversión anual por persona en educación que alcanza el País, es de una inversión anual en educación de sólo 42 dólares por persona, lo que lo ubica en la cola de los países Centroamericanos. Por lo que dicho Sistema es incoherente para cumplir con dicho Objetivo, en tanto no se concrete en la asignación presupuestaria una base de al menos el 7% del PIB, lo cual parece estar lejos de ser considerado por el actual Gobierno, quien cuenta con los medios suficientes como ningún otro Gobierno para disponer de fondos suficientes para lograr dichos compromisos. Mismos fondos que provienen de la Cooperación Venezolana pero que lamentablemente no pasan por el presupuesto de la Nación.

Mientras tanto el sistema educativo diseñado para alcanzar los Objetivos del Milenio, por sí mismo ha quedado descalificado, puesto que apuesta a una educación obediente a lineamientos partidarios, más que a mejorar la calidad y por tanto el mismo no resulta efectivo para evitar las deserciones, ni mucho menos a mejorar  las capacidades intelectuales de los estudiantes quienes para pasar el año escolar tan solo deben estar afiliados al partido de gobierno e involucrarse en actividades partidarias.

Y este es tan solo uno de los motivos por los cuales se afirma que de no cambiar drásticamente el sistema educativo, difícilmente esa meta se va lograr al 2015 para acercarse al objetivo, Además la realidad impone que el presupuesto asignado a educación tendría que duplicarse.

Disminución de la pobreza y desnutrición: un sueño inconcluso

Nicaragua, acordó reducir el porcentaje de la población que vive en pobreza extrema, partiendo de una base de 19.4 por ciento de pobreza extrema de 1993, hasta alcanzar el 9.7 por ciento de la población en 2015. La meta que se estableció fue reducir a la mitad, entre 1990 y 2015, el porcentaje de personas cuyos ingresos fueran inferiores a un dólar por día.

En cuanto al hambre, el objetivo era reducir el porcentaje de niñez menor de 5 años con bajo peso y desnutrición global, partiendo de una cifra de línea de base de 1993, de 11.5 por ciento, y alcanzar bajarla a 5.9 por ciento en 2015. La meta era reducir a la mitad el porcentaje de personas que padecen hambre. Así mismo entre 2009 y 2010 la desnutrición infantil pasaría de 27 por ciento, reportado en 2006, a 38 por ciento de los niños de hasta cinco años de edad.

No obstante  de cada cinco niños y niñas, uno padece desnutrición crónica en este país, según el informe Estado Mundial de la Infancia 2008, presentado en Managua en junio de 2008 por el Unicef.  Y de acuerdo al documento de Unicef (Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia), 12 por ciento de los recién nacidos presentaban bajo peso, y 30 por ciento de los menores de cinco años tenían una talla inferior a la que les correspondía por su edad.

Un reciente estudio reveló que de una población actual de 5,8 millones de habitantes el número total de personas en situación de pobreza en Nicaragua aumentó en cifras absolutas, por el crecimiento natural anual de la población. En 2005 vivían en pobreza 2,48 millones de los 5,4 millones de los habitantes del país ese año, mientras que en 2009 las personas en esa situación eran 2,56 millones, de una población total de 5,7 millones.

Así mismo aproximadamente 186 mil ciudadanos económicamente activos se encuentran en desempleo y 885 mil están en empleos precarios. Siendo así la tasa de desempleo formal el 8.2 por ciento de la PEA. De la cual en 2010, el 38.8 por ciento PEA (885 mil personas de una masa humana de 2.28 millones) están subempleadas, sin ingresos fijos, sin respaldo de seguro social y sin beneficios laborales.

Programas de gobierno: Para clientelismo partidario o para combatir de verdad la pobreza

Nicaragua según el Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Forestal (MAGFOR) Posee unas 550 mil manzanas con vocación agrícola y agropecuaria, las cuales no se usan por falta de financiamiento, capacitación e incentivo a la producción. Siendo esta una de las causas de que dichos programas sean fallidos para tales propósitos. Así mismo  se ha aumentado el área de producción y la productividad por área solamente en productos de agro exportación y no en alimentos que pueden disminuir el hambre de los nicaragüenses.

Otro factor es que quienes producen alimentos básicos no reciben financiamiento ni privado ni estatal y que lejos de ello, lo que ha habido es una campaña de carácter partidaria- estatal- electoral del programa Hambre Cero, el que no se enmarca dentro de una política pública, pues es ejecutado sin visión de largo plazo, sin planes de auto sostenibilidad y con lineamientos más políticos para ganar clientelismo partidario.

Seguimos así dependiendo  del sub-empleo, y contrario a eso la tasa de desempleo abierto aumento de 5,2 por ciento a 8,3 por ciento del 2006 al 2009. En contraste con la tasa de crecimiento económico promedio 2007-2010, que fue de 2.1 por ciento, menor a las tasa de crecimiento que tuvo el país de 2000 a 2006 y mucho menor a la tasa de crecimiento de 3.8 que según PNUD, Nicaragua requería de manera permanente desde 2001 al 2015 para alcanzar las metas. De tal forma que el País para cumplir con los ODM, necesita un mayor crecimiento económico superior al 5 por ciento anual.


Según un estudio denominado “Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio Nicaragua 2006”, elaborado por el Sistema de las Naciones Unidas, la comunidad internacional había venido apoyando a Nicaragua para su desarrollo con más de U$ 4,600 millones entre 1997 y 2005 en concepto de ayuda externa, ya fuera en donaciones, préstamos concesionales y créditos a largo plazo, sin embargo con el retiro de la Cooperación argumentando que el País ha dejado de ser pobre, pasando supuestamente a ser un País de Renta media, el Panorama resulta sombrío.

Desde entonces se establecía que para alcanzar los ODM, a partir de un estudio realizado por PNUD en 2004, el gasto social en salud, educación, agua y saneamiento debería crecer un mínimo de 3.8 por ciento anual entre 2001 y 2015. Lo cual nunca ocurrió.  Se necesitaba crear 90 mil nuevos empleos productivos para una población Económicamente activa de 15 a 60 años lo cual tampoco ha ocurrido. De esta manera, el denominado ‘bono demográfico’, en vez de aprovecharse, está creando las condiciones para que se continúe reproduciendo la pobreza de la mayor parte de la población, y para que se generen crecientes niveles de precariedad laboral, descomposición social, inseguridad y violencia, y niveles masivos de emigración.

El peligro en el País de no cumplir con los ODM es inminente, en virtud de varios factores vinculados al poco crecimiento económico, Falta de inversión suficiente que genere empleo formal, Crecimiento de la población que demanda alimentos y trabajo,  Incremento de la corrupción en el Gobierno y falta de voluntad política del mismo para Dialogar con las diferentes fuerzas sociales, económicas y productivas de la nación. Entre otros.  Hay avances, en algunos más que en otros, pero no son suficientes y no se acercan a la meta.

“El ex Ministro de Educación (Miguel De Castilla), en su momento, había reconocido que ‘al paso que marchaba la educación en el país, necesitábamos un milenio más para poder cumplir’” los Objetivos del Milenio”.


  • Documento. Estudios posicionamientos oficiales de la Coordinadora Civil.
    Exposición del coordinador de la comisión económica de la CC.- “Adolfo Acevedo”. 21-09-2011.
  • Propuesta a la Nación Actualizada Coordinadora Civil. 2011.
  • Nicaragua y las inalcanzables Metas del Milenio.
    ONU en los medios 18.12.2010
  • Los Derechos Humanos y las Violaciones en Nicaragua Coordinadora Civil
  • Fraude electoral nos sacó de la solidaridad mundial.
    El Nuevo Diario. 6 de febrero de 2011.
  • Lejos de las Metas del Milenio. El Nuevo Diario. 13 de junio de 2010.

El tortuoso camino hacia el cumplimiento de los ODM

Lentos avances hacia los ODM <br> Como firmante de la Declaración del Milenio, el Estado paraguayo está comprometido a cumplir con los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio para 2015. El hoy ex presidente Nicanor Duarte Frutos (2003-2008) reiteró ese compromiso, y su sucesor Fernando Lugo (2008-2012) lo incluyó explícitamente en sus dos principales programas: el Plan Estratégico Económico y Social 2008-2013 y la Política Pública para el Desarrollo Social 2010-2020.

Dra. Verónica Serafini Geoghegan, Economista
Lentos avances hacia los ODM

Como firmante de la Declaración del Milenio, el Estado paraguayo está comprometido a cumplir con los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio para 2015. El hoy ex presidente Nicanor Duarte Frutos (2003-2008) reiteró ese compromiso, y su sucesor Fernando Lugo (2008-2012) lo incluyó explícitamente en sus dos principales programas: el Plan Estratégico Económico y Social 2008-2013 y la Política Pública para el Desarrollo Social 2010-2020.

Si bien no ha existido un plan específico que guíe las acciones públicas hacia los ODM, muchos programas sociales nuevos o con cobertura ampliada de la última década tienen objetivos alineados con sus metas. Estas iniciativas, además de su baja cobertura, presentan problemas de diseño, por lo cual las posibilidades de cambiar en el corto o mediano plazo la trayectoria de los indicadores han sido mínimas. No obstante, las tendencias de la última década se muestran lentas pero constantes, a diferencia de décadas anteriores en que la evolución de los indicadores era inestable y sus mejoras casi espasmódicas.

Una gran ausente en el discurso público paraguayo hasta entrado el siglo XXI fue la protección social. Mientras en Europa constituía uno de los principales proyectos del siglo XX y en América Latina cobró fuerza desde su segunda mitad, Paraguay se mantenía al margen de este avance, excepto por el hecho de contar con un sistema de seguridad social de carácter contributivo, pero de baja cobertura y gran inequidad al estar limitado su alcance a los trabajadores en relación de dependencia.

A partir de 2005, los documentos del gobierno de Paraguay comienzan a hacer referencias a esta política, sobre todo por la preocupación ante la amplia franja de población que quedaba excluida del sistema de seguridad social. Desde entonces surgieron programas que procuran, por un lado, afrontar los riesgos derivados de las condiciones de vulnerabilidad que sufre gran parte de la ciudadanía, dirigidos a sectores específicos como la niñez campesina en situación de pobreza extrema o de áreas urbanas en situación de calle, la niñez y las mujeres embarazadas desnutridas, los adultos mayores en situación de pobreza. Por el otro lado, se establecieron planes para ampliar progresivamente las políticas de salud y educación.

El impacto de esos programas será mínimo si su cobertura es baja y si las políticas de salud y educación son de mala calidad y están lejos de la universalidad. La política de protección social afecta a varios ODM, entre ellos el de erradicar la pobreza y el hambre, el de alcanzar la universalidad de la educación primaria, el de reducir la tasa de mortalidad de la niñez y el de mejorar la salud materna.

Otros programas ya vigentes fueron dotados de mayores recursos, que, sin embargo, resultan aun así insuficientes para lograr el cumplimiento de las metas, y también para reducir las desigualdades que esconden los promedios nacionales de las estadísticas entre la población de áreas urbanas y rurales, entre la indígenas y la no indígenas y entre la pobre y la no pobre.

Los cuatro informes nacionales realizados en el país sobre los ODM dan cuenta de la lentitud de los avances y de las escasas posibilidades de cumplir con la mayoría de las metas.


Posibilidad de cumplimiento

ODM 1: Erradicar la pobreza y el hambre

Progreso insuficiente

ODM 2: lograr la enseñanza primaria universal

Progreso compatible

ODM 3: Promover la equidad de género y el empoderamiento de la mujer

Progreso compatible

ODM 4: Reducir la tasa de mortalidad de la niñez

Progreso insuficiente

ODM 5: Mejorar la salud materna

Progreso insuficiente

ODM 6: Combatir el VIH/SIDA, el paludismo y otras enfermedades

Progreso insuficiente

ODM 7: Asegurar la sostenibilidad del medio ambiente

Progreso insuficiente

Fuente: Sistema de Naciones Unidas (2005). Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio. Informe de Paraguay. Asunción.


Principales críticas a los ODM en Paraguay

Los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio han recibido numerosos cuestionamientos. En el informe de la sociedad civil de 2005 “Paraguay-Sin excusas contra la pobreza”, las principales críticas fueron:

• Su visión reduccionista. Por un lado, limita las metas a pocas dimensiones de la vida humana, y por el otro, deja de lado otros acuerdos y compromisos internacionales de gran envergadura como el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, la Convención sobre la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW), los planes de acción de diversas cumbres y conferencias sobre medio ambiente y desarrollo sustentable, población y asentamientos urbanos y las convenciones sobre trabajo decente, entre otras. Al sintetizarse los objetivos en indicadores de alcance mundial, se invisibilizan y se reducen derechos ya conquistados desde los años 90.

• Al concentrarse los ODM en los resultados y no en las causas estructurales, quedó debilitada la atención del Estados en los factores que permiten el avance de las personas al mejorar sus capacidades y oportunidades. Esto podría sugerir a las autoridades nacionales la implementación de acciones para cumplir con las metas que, por su alto costo, resultan insostenibles a largo plazo, por lo que sus efectos son coyunturales.

• Por su falta de integralidad, el conjunto de ODM no permite abordar en todas sus dimensiones los factores que determinan la pobreza y la vulnerabilidad de las personas. Esta visión parcial puede llevar a la construcción de un Estado mínimo, con compromisos y deberes reducidos, en vez de un Estado social responsable de garantizarle a la ciudadanía la universalidad de sus derechos.

• Falta coherencia interna entre los objetivos, metas e indicadores. Alcanzar las metas planteadas no siempre lleva a cumplir con los objetivos. Los indicadores incluidos en las metas tampoco permiten recoger la esencia de la Declaración del Milenio.

Estas críticas fueron acordadas por consenso, luego de un amplio análisis, por representantes de 50 organizaciones paraguayas de derechos humanos, campesinas, barriales, indígenas, sindicales, juveniles, de mujeres, que en 2005 se aliaron en la Plataforma Paraguay sin Excusas contra la Pobreza, que a su vez integró el Llamado Mundial a la Acción contra la Pobreza (GCAP, por sus siglas en inglés).


Potencialidades de un mecanismo de seguimiento a la gestión pública

El débil y fragmentado Estado paraguayo parece ir en retroceso. Un punto de inflexión para el proceso político, económico y social paraguayo lo constituye el juicio político por el que se destituyó el 22 de junio de 2012 al presidente Fernando Lugo, quien había asumido con 41 por ciento de los votos y contaba en 2011, al llegar a los tres años en el gobierno, con la aceptación de 50 por ciento de la población. El procedimiento fue claramente ilegal en su procedimiento e ilegítimo para un importante sector de la sociedad. El contrato social se rompió.

Como resultado del “golpe parlamentario”, el presupuesto para 2013 mostraba, incluso mientras lo estudia el Poder Legislativo, relevantes cambios en los principios rectores de la política pública.

El gasto social, que en la última década había aumentado persistentemente, detuvo su tendencia en la propuesta del Poder Ejecutivo entregada al Congreso en octubre de 2012. En dos meses de discusión en el Congreso, la asignación a la Policía y las Fuerzas Armadas se elevó 30 por ciento, y los fondos para la burocracia vinculada con el aparato electoral de los partidos políticos con representación parlamentaria, 40 por ciento.

En los poco más de 20 años transcurridos desde la restauración democrática, la ciudadanía no ha logrado fortalecer lo suficiente su capacidad de demandar el cumplimiento de sus derechos y de exigir resultados y rendición de cuentas a funcionarios y dirigentes políticos. La debilidad del Estado es cada vez más palpable. Entre otras cuestiones, se manifiesta en su incapacidad para cumplir con los ODM. La mayoría de sus metas podrían haberse alcanzados se hubieran implementado políticas de calidad y con la cobertura necesaria.

Los partidos políticos y la mayoría de sus representantes, que deberían funcionar como mecanismo de transmisión entre la ciudadanía y el sector público, carecen de legitimidad, por lo que crece y se profundiza en la juventud la desconfianza y la desafección hacia ellos.

Las instituciones del Estado son insuficientes para responder eficazmente a las necesidades y demandas de la ciudadanía. Por eso, la influencia de particulares, a menudo teñida por conflictos de intereses, supera el peso del interés general en las políticas públicas.

La asignación de los recursos públicos (que determina a quién benefician las políticas estatales, con qué criterios, para qué) se maneja con discrecionalidad, al amparo de la insuficiente información pública sobre los programas que se implementan, su debilidad y la falta de criterios claros sobre los sectores de la población a los que se dirigen, los resultados esperados y las actividades y recursos disponibles para lograrlos. De ese modo, las políticas públicas se convierten en instrumentos de prebendas y de clientelismo político.

En este escenario, los ODM constituyen un poderoso instrumento de seguimiento al escaso compromiso del Estado hacia la ciudadanía paraguaya. El reconocimiento de este aspecto tiene importantes implicancias para la ciudadanía organizada que busca el cumplimiento de los ODMs:

• Alcanzar estos objetivos debe entenderse como una obligación. Por lo tanto, constituyen un mecanismo de exigibilidad.

• En un sector público institucionalmente débil, su seguimiento permite garantizar su progresividad, de manera que los avances no dependan de funcionarios ni gobiernos coyunturales, sino de estrategias de mediano y largo plazo.

• Al no existir instancias y mecanismos de rendición de cuentas sistemáticas y de calidad, los ODM permiten a la ciudadanía exigir información y transparencia no solo sobre la evolución de los indicadores sino de los programas públicos que se implementan para su cumplimiento. Por lo tanto, las posibilidades de ejercer ciudadanía y de tener una participación organizada aumentan en la medida en que es posible darle seguimiento a la acción pública en lo concreto, es decir, de controlar los objetivos de los programas, su cobertura, las garantías de acceso y los instrumentos de focalización.

• Frente a la fragmentación social, los ODM propician alianzas en torno a un objetivo común, claramente delimitable y fácilmente consensuable.


Los desafíos futuros

• Reconstituir el contrato social a la luz del cumplimiento de los derechos humanos (civiles, políticos, económicos, sociales y culturales), incorporando a los ODM como piso sobre el cual partir. ¿Qué aspiraciones puede tener una sociedad en la que no se garantiza el derecho a la vida, hoy pendiente, dadas las todavía altas tasas de mortalidad materna e infantil? ¿Cómo proyectar el ejercicio pleno de los derechos a la educación, al trabajo, los derechos políticos con niños y niñas que pasan hambre y cuyo futuro está determinado hoy por circunstancias fuera de su control?

• Fortalecer las capacidades de la ciudadanía y de las organizaciones para estructurar sus demandas, incidir en la construcción de las plataformas de gobierno de los diferentes partidos y participar activamente en todo el proceso de las políticas públicas: la construcción de la agenda, el diseño e implementación de los programas, la evaluación y la rendición de cuentas.

• Mejorar sustancialmente el diseño y la gestión de los programas públicos, con la mirada puesta en los resultados. Eso implica, por un lado, que las estrategias y acciones deben estar sustentadas en la intervención sobre las causas de los problemas, y por otro, en los resultados que afectan la calidad de vida de las personas y no en los medios para lograrlos.

• Instalar mecanismos eficaces de transparencia y rendición de cuentas: no hay posibilidades de lograr un Estado garante de los derechos humanos y procesos de profundización de la democracia sin retroalimentación entre el sector público y la ciudadanía. Las dinámicas sociales y económicas exigen dinamismo y capacidad de reacción de las políticas, lo cual requiere, a su vez, de una interlocución activa entre todos los involucrados.


Energy inequity making Thailand’s national development unsustainable

Thailand’s approval of the Power Development Plan (PDP 2010-2030) will not only promote energy inequality among its people and burden the poor with heavy environmental costs of power plants, coal plants and even nuclear reactors, but also undermine most of the MDGs’ achievements the country claimed to have already made long before 2015. Academics, civil society and local community organizations are expressing their opposition to the approved plan, proposing a new PDP based on a holistic approach to energy planning, and urging the country to move from heavy reliance on fossil fuels, use energy more efficiently, and convert to renewable energy sources for the interests of the majority Thai people.

Prasart Meetam and Suntaree Kiatiprajuk
The Social Agenda Working Group

Thailand’s approval of the Power Development Plan (PDP 2010-2030) will not only promote energy inequality among its people and burden the poor with heavy environmental costs of power plants, coal plants and even nuclear reactors, but also undermine most of the MDGs’ achievements the country claimed to have already made long before 2015. Academics, civil society and local community organizations are expressing their opposition to the approved plan, proposing a new PDP based on a holistic approach to energy planning, and urging the country to move from heavy reliance on fossil fuels, use energy more efficiently, and convert to renewable energy sources for the interests of the majority Thai people.

Energy is globally recognized as central to the issues of development, global security, environmental protection and sustainability and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). developing countries are urged to expand access to reliable and modern energy services if they are to reduce poverty and improve the health of their citizens. The UN even declared 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. But current energy systems are seen as inadequate to meet the needs of the poor and are jeopardizing the sustainable achievement of the MDGs.

Thailand’s Eleventh National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012-2016) states that “The issue of energy security is vital, and requires that more clean energy be used and alternative energy sources be developed, leading to overall improvement in energy efficiency.” In principle, this may be considered the national development direction. But in practice this is not the case , the country’s latest PDP (2010-2030), formulated mainly by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and influenced heavily by the demands of such industries as automobile and smelting will direct the country’s national development plan for the next 20 years. Under this latest PDP, Thailand will have an annual spending of about 200 billion Baht (USD 6,510.41 million/USD 1 = 30.72 Baht) for power plants construction. Moreover, Thailand’s electricity generation sector is a monopoly business, with absolute ownership of and control over the transmission systems. More importantly, today’s construction of power plants tends to be of large-scale size and these power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide released into the area around them and the atmosphere. Thus, the construction of new power plants in almost all areas are often opposed by local communities while those existing power stations continue to make negative impacts on the communities’ health and livelihood.

Lack of good governance and public participation

On 6 June 2012, Miss rosana Tositrakul , chair of the Senate’s subcommittee on Good Governance Promotion held a press conference at the press conference room of parliament criticizing the third-revised PDP the Ministry of Energy was about to present to the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC) meeting on 8 June 2012 for contradicting to the government’s previously approved Energy Efficiency Development Plan (2011-2030), lacking active participation of the public, and tending to unreasonably favour natural gas, coal and nuclear power sectors that will impose undue investment burdens on the country whereby the public will be made to shoulder them via electricity rates. Not to mention potential social conflict over the construction of power plants in various areas in the future.

The content of the latest PDP, in Rosana’s view, is incompatible with the cabinet resolution approved on 27 December 2011 to achieve the targeted 96,653 ktoe of energy conservation by 2030. In the draft PDP, such previously-set target was reduced to only 20% of it and that would result in increasing electricity fees of at least 4.56 baht per unit by 2030. In addition, the formulation of the Plan had been hurriedly conducted so that it could be presented to the NEPC meeting by 8 June 2012 and submitted for cabinet approval the following week. The social activist senator suggested that “the Ministry of Energy should suspend its presentation of the PDP to the NEPC for the time being and allow the people to be thoroughly informed and voice their views; otherwise its act may violate the constitution.”

In fact, only one hearing was held in Bangkok on 5 June 2012. Invitation letters were sent to concerned participants five days while relevant information was disclosed only three days in advance of the scheduled date of the hearing. In the southern province of Trang on 7 June 2012, 20 representatives of the People’s Network of Trang held a meeting at the community centre in Kan Tang district, expressing their opposition to the third-revised PDP. Mr Trairong Kuaseng, member of the Network, said, “The Ministry of Energy held only one public hearing for half a day in Bangkok. Its invitation letters were sent on 30 May 2012 with very little information on the draft PDP to be considered in the hearing. This lack of respect for active participation of the people sector could cause greater injustice against consumers as the PDP could lead to the construction of more large-scale power plants and the people will be made to bear the burden of their construction and production costs.”

He also pointed out that if the 80% of the energy conservation previously targeted was not cut from the latest PDP, no coal-fired power plants would be built in Trang and other regions of the country. “Local conflict will be lessened,” he added.

At odds with reality but in alliance with vested interests

In late 2011, the cabinet of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra government approved the Alternative Energy Development Plan 2012-2021(AEDP) and the Energy Efficiency Development Plan (EEDP). Both Plans show how Thailand could produce more energy from renewable sources, providing as much as 25% of the nation's total energy needs in 2021 and reduce its energy consumption in 2030 by 20%, basically through demand-side management. The EEDP even says that technically it could exceed its targets and achieve even higher efficiencies. This means that the unnecessary annual spending of over 200 billion Baht could be saved while the unnecessary emission of 49 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year could be reduced.

But the 20-year-long PDP still predicts a massive hike in electricity demand from 2012’s peak of 26,355 MW to a forecast of 70,847 MW in 2030, which means at least an additional six coal plants, seven natural gas plants, two nuclear power plants and the purchase of power from several controversial dams in neighbouring countries, according to an article written by members of the Thai Working Group for Climate Justices. An assessment by energy analysts Cheunchom and Chris Greacen, published in April 2012 pointed out that multiple revisions of the PDP have had a persistent tendency to overestimate projected demand.

“By selecting excessive amounts of controversial, expensive, risky and polluting power plants, over cheaper, cleaner and safer alternatives,” the report states, “the PDP is at odds with both Thai energy policy as well as the interests of the vast majority of Thai people.”

It is not difficult to see why this recommendation is difficult to swallow for those with a financial stake in energy production in Thailand. Giant energy companies make profits from building new plants and selling more electricity. When the latest PDP was approved, the minister of energy confirmed a new round of bidding for six new power plants, which sent the stock prices of the main three independent power producers in Thailand shooting up. A small elite of Thai businessmen and politicians have an interest in keeping demand for energy production up, even to excessively high levels.

Yingluck’s cabinet, on 19 June 2012, approved this PDP and PTT Public Company Limited, Thailand’s national energy company, was assigned to propose its natural gas supply plan (2012-2030) in line with the PDP and present to the NEPC for further approval. Not surprisingly, PTT reported to the NEPC meeting on 4 October 2012 that to be congruent with the PDP, the country’s overall demands for natural gas for the electricity.In 2007, 49% of electricity was consumed by industrial sector, followed by commercial sector, 25%, and households, 21%. In 2010, the fuels used for electricity generation ranged from natural gas, 71.8%; coal, 17.6 and renewables, 6.3 (hydropower 4.8% and others,1.5%/the ministry of Energy categorized hydropower as renewable), industrial and transportation sectors would increase from 4,167 million cubic feet per day in 2011 to 5,331 million cubic feet per day in 2016, an average increase of 5.1% annually. In the long term, the demand could increase to 6,999 million cubic feet per day in 2030. And also the retail price of electricity fee will become at 4.95 baht per kWh, which is still within the range of 4.47-5.0 baht per kWh anticipated by the Energy Regulatory Commission. No sooner had the PTT proposed plan been approved than this energy company was also given the go-ahead by the Ministry of Energy to build its second phase of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal worth USD 698 million for the two million tonnes of LNG the company was also authorized to buy from Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Limited for 20 years starting from 2015.

Two very influential organizations involving in Thailand’s energy sector are PTT and EGAT. Both of them are state enterprises whereby the Ministry of Finance has 51% and 100%, respectively, shareholding in them. But when these organizations established their subsidiaries and affiliates (about 100 of them), the status of state enterprises will be maintained only if their parent organizations have no less than 66.67% in those subsidiaries. Otherwise, they are private companies. But the subsidiaries of PTT and EGAT can have the best of both worlds. As state enterprises, they can have access to loans from various sources with the Ministry of Finance as their guarantor. When they are prosecuted, the General Attorney will represent them in court and the Council of State Office will give them advice if they have any legal problems. As private companies, they are not subject to the rule and regulations of the Ministry of Finance but entitled to privileges given by the Board of Investment. It is interesting to note that the three electricity state enterprises – EGAT, Metropolitan Electricity Authority, and Provincial Electricity Authority – employ about 100,000 employees or not more than 110,000 workers if the employees of private power producers are included. But these 110,000 workers take part in producing around 500 billion Baht (USD 16,276.04 million/USD 1 = 30.72 Baht) of the country’s GDP. It means that Thailand’s substantial income concentrates on this electricity sector, this is of course an origin of inequity.

At the same time, high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Energy that are responsible for designating and supervising energy policies for the interests of the people are appointed by the government or those state enterprises as committee members to oversee the policies of such companies or energy businesses. These officials are given huge benefits, 10 times higher than the amount given by the civil service system. Therefore, it is very difficult to expect these officials to protect the people’s interests.

Opposition and complaints falling on deaf ears

Existing power plants are inflicting adverse impact on local people’s health and environment while many current plans for new power plants, especially the most polluting, are proposed in environmentally-sensitive locations, in particular along the southern coastline and next to major rivers, threatening the livelihoods of countless communities and sparking vehement public opposition. Not to mention huge environmental, social and economic costs to be created.

One latest case in point is the protest of the Network of Small-scale Fisherfolk of Tha Sala district of the southern province of Nakhon Si thammarat. On 22 November 2012, representatives of the Network submitted their letter opposing the approval given by Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning’s (ONEP) panel of experts to the final environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) of the deep-sea port and chemical storage site to be built by Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, reported Woralak Sriyai of the Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism. Representatives of the Network pointed out, in their letter, that the approved EHIA report was flawed in terms of local facts and information: the selection of the project site did not include local people’s participation; the scope of the assessment did not include the areas and people to be actually affected by the project; and the operation of the project will have negative impacts on Tha Sala’s marine ecosystem and coastal areas, which is one of Thailand’s fishery sources and plays a very critical role in fishing communities, but the issue was not mentioned in the EHIA report.

“We can make money from selling fish - at least 1,000 Baht a day, especially in November. We could make money up to 10,000 Baht a day if we get mantis shrimp in Golden Bay,” said Mu Toh-Intae, one of the fisherfolk living off Golden Bay off Tha Sa La, on the edge of the Gulf of Thailand. That was why Mu and his fisher friends said they were really worried that the construction would create huge impact on their marine resources and their fisher’s way of life would be totally destroyed by the port construction and related development.

In fact, the EHIA report is said to cover only a 5-kilometre radius of the construction site when in reality at least 10,000 fisherfolk living outside that area will be affected, according to Somporn Pengkam, the National Health Commission's HIA coordinating unit director. Somporn added that the ONEP expert panel had been studying this report since 2010 before approving it on 11 September 2012 but what the local fisherfolk and villagers wanted to know was the exact criteria used by the panel. Both the villagers to be affected and the NHC believe activities related to the deep-sea port and construction of the chemical storage site would affect marine life as well as the livelihoods of local fisherfolk.

Piyanant Sophonthanaporn, director of ONEP's Environmental Impact Assessment Bureau, said the expert panel had approved this EHIA report because Chevron had taken additional measures to mitigate the impacts after the panel rejected it seven times. “We have asked ONEP several times for the final EHIA report so we can see for ourselves what measures will be taken. However, we were always refused," said Somporn.

Renewable energy development is more sustainable

To avoid being tragically caught in the energy trap set up in the 20-year-long PDP, now is the time Thai society and its individual members took renewable energy seriously. A number of people have already realized how inexhaustible, cheap, and sustainable renewable energy is and shifted to it. The problem is how to make those who are ignorant of the sustainable benefits of renewable energy better informed, learn their lessons and all together turn to renewable energy.There are concepts and good practices concerning renewable energy development from abroad that can be applied to Thailand. Take Germany’s success in shifting to renewable energy development for example. Dr Hermann Scheer – German parliamentarian for 30 years, environmentalist, and economist – named by Time magazine as “Hero for the Green Century” as saying in his interview: “The sun offers to our globe, in eight minutes, as much energy as the annual consumption of fossil and atomic energy is. That means the doubting if there would be enough renewable energy for the replacement of nuclear and fossil energies is ridiculous. There is by far enough.”

In addition, the details contained in Thailand’s already approved AEDP, the EEDP as well as the recommendations made by the Greacens’ report all point to the country’s possibility and availability of approaches to renewable energy development that could lead to sustainable development where the social and economic welfare and quality of life of the majority people can be improved.

However, if the actual performances so far of the current administration are anything to go by, the call for the government to adopt a more holistic approach to energy planning by shifting to renewable energy development will be ignored. So the mobilization of the wider Thai society and individuals is the most important thing, as pointed out by Dr Scheer: “as soon as the society, most people, have recognized that the alternative are renewable energies and we must not wait for others, we can do it by our own, in our own sphere, together in cooperatives or in the cities or individually. As soon as they recognize this, they will become supporters.” And such realization should come in time.

Otherwise several MDGs, including eradicating poverty and hunger , providing all children with primary education, promoting gender equality, halting the spread of AIDS, reducing the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation, elevating the quality of life of slum-dwellers, and being in development partnership with global community, Thailand claimed to have achieved long before 2015 could be back to square one. And environmental sustainability the MDG Thailand has never achieved will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.


National Economic and Social Development Board, prologue to the Eleventh National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012-2016), by Office of the Prime Minister (Bangkok), xv.

Prasart Meetam, “Tragedy in the Thai Power Sector,” presented at the workshop held by Chulalongkorn Social Research Institute and the Social Agenda Working Group, 29 November 2012.

Surapong Paisitpattanapong, “FTI to push Thai car production goal to 2.3 million units this year,” <http://www.chiangmai-mail.com/Update2012-Bisiness/business_Sep3.shtml>, 24 September 2012.

The first three sectors (out of eight) that produce most carbon dioxide are power plants, 29.5%; industrial processes, 20.6%; and transportation, 19.2% <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Greenhouse_Gas_by_Sector.png>.

She is a social activist senator (Bangkok) and former NGO worker with long experiences in development work, social justice and traditional medicine for self-reliant healthcare

Rosana Tositrakul, press release document, “The dubious good governance of the draft PDP 2010 third revision and unfair electricity costs,” 6 June 2012.

Prachayakiat Waroh, “Network against coal-fired power plant in Trang opposes PDP 2010,” <http://prachatai.com/node/40922>, 8 June 2012.

Rebeca Leonard, Jacques-chai Chomthongdi and Faikham Harnnarong, “Thai power development plan is at odds with reality,” <http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/313708/thai-power-development-plan-is-at-odds-with-reality>, 24 Septmeber 2012.

Chuenchom Sangarasri Greacen and Chris Greacen, introduction to Proposed Power Development Plan (PDP) 2012 and a Framework for Improving Accountability and Performance of Power Sector Planning, April 2012, 7.

Op cit, Rebeca Leonard et al.

National Energy Policy Council, proceedings of the 143th meeting of the NEPC on 4 October 2012 <http://www.eppo.go.th/nepc/kpc/kpc-143.htm#2>.

Ministry of Energy's National Energy Policy Office, cited by the Reuters’ report that was posted on the Natural Gas Asia website, < http://www.naturalgasasia.com/ptt-gets-nod-to-build-second-phase-of-lng-terminal >, 4 October 2010.

Noppanun Wannatepskul, lecture <www.thaipublica.org>.

Op cit, Rebeca Leonard et al.

Woralak Sriyai, “Tha Sala villagers meet ONEP’s secretary general to protest against Chevron deep-sea port, vowing to protect their Golden Bay,” website of TCIJ News Centre <http://www.tcijthai.com/tcijthai/view.php?ids=1569>, 23 November 2012, (Accessed 27 November 2012).

Pongphon Sarnsamak, “Fishermen fear chevron port project will ruin livelihoods,” The Nation <http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Fishermen-fear-Chevron-port-project-will-ruin-live-30194123.html>, 12 November 2012, (Accessed 28 November 2012).

Pongphon Sarnsamak, “NHC demands final report on Chevron project,” The Nation < http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/NHC-demands-final-report-on-Chevron-project-30193813.html>, 7 November 2012, (Accessed 28 November 2012).

Ibid, Pongphon Sarnsamak.


A report published in the Bangkok Post, 15 December 2011, said that in Thailand, the richest 20% made almost 60% of the income, the highest among Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Phillippines and Vietnam in 2009. In addition, the poorest 20% garnered only 4% of the income, also the lowest among the group.


Es impostergable revisar el paradigma de desarrollo desde el enfoque de los derechos humanos

El Informe gubernamental de avance 2010 sobre los ODM en México subraya que la mayoría de los indicadores asociados a los ODM y a sus metas mejoraron significativamente, afirmando haber cumplido con la mayoría y previendo cumplir el resto para 2015. No obstante los avances, el Informe indica que aún queda un largo camino por recorrer: persiste la desigualdad en el ingreso y las condiciones de pobreza y vulnerabilidad en que aún viven muchas familias; es necesario reducir la mortalidad materna, consolidar la equidad de género; sigue pendiente el reto vital del medio ambiente y un mayor crecimiento económico. Desde la perspectiva de organizaciones civiles y sociales el panorama nacional de pobreza, desigualdad y violaciones a los derechos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales, pone en cuestión la efectividad de la política social que se ha venido implementando y revela las limitaciones del enfoque de los ODM. La administración federal que regirá al país de 2013 a 2018 tiene una oportunidad inmejorable de redefinir el rumbo.

Areli Sandoval Terán (DECA Equipo Pueblo)[1]
Adherentes: Espacio DESC[2], ADOC y Convergencia de Organismos Civiles[3]

Reflexionar sobre la futura agenda desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas “más allá del 2015”, cuando el plazo para alcanzar los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM) habrá vencido, requiere revisar el grado de cumplimiento del marco de desarrollo actual, conformado precisamente por esos Objetivos. El anterior gobierno federal incluyó en el Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2007-2012  algunos indicadores y metas para avanzar en el cumplimiento de los ODM en México. Como medida adicional, el gobierno estableció en 2010 un Comité Técnico Especializado del Sistema de Información de los ODM para la coordinación interinstitucional y el seguimiento. En su Informe de avance 2010 al respecto, el gobierno presenta resultados optimistas al considerar que a pesar de la crisis internacional de 2008-2009, y “gracias a la red de protección social construida con políticas y programas durante la última década…así como al manejo de las finanzas públicas”, la población en situación de pobreza en el país no aumentó en la misma proporción que en crisis anteriores, y que al mismo tiempo mejoraron significativamente la mayoría de los indicadores asociados a los ODM y a sus metas; de esta manera afirma haber cumplido ya desde 2010 con la mayoría de las metas, al tiempo que plantea poder cumplir con el resto en tiempo, alcanzando los ODM para 2015.[4] Para ilustrar, a continuación se presentan en resumen algunos indicadores de este Informe oficial:

Cuadro resumen sobre el Informe de avances 2010 respecto a los ODM en México


Avance de algunas metas e indicadores a nivel nacional

1: Erradicar la pobreza extrema y el hambre

-  Entre 1989 y 2010, disminuyó la desigualdad en el ingreso.
-  El índice de Gini registró su nivel más bajo en 2010.
- Se contuvo el crecimiento de la pobreza y la desigualdad, pese al repunte por crisis económica de 2008-2009.
- Entre 1992 y 2010, disminuyó casi a la mitad la proporción de población ubicada por debajo del nivel mínimo de consumo de energía alimentaria.

2: Lograr la enseñanza primaria universal

-Se incrementó la tasa neta de matriculación en primaria a la par del crecimiento de la población, en edades de entre 6 y 11 años.
-Disminuyó a menos del 1% la deserción escolar.
- La tasa de alfabetización de personas entre 15 y 24 años llegó a 98.1% en 2009.
-Se duplicó la tasa neta de matriculación en educación preescolar, alcanzando 80.9% en 2010.

3: Promover la igualdad entre los sexos y el empoderamiento de la mujer

-Desde 2009, prácticamente se ha eliminado la diferencia de inscripción por sexo en todos los niveles educativos.
-Las mujeres se han incorporado al mercado de trabajo de manera creciente, aunque se requiere que cuenten con todas las prestaciones de ley y salarios equitativos respecto a los masculinos.
-Existe tendencia ascendente en la proporción de escaños ocupados por mujeres en el Poder Legislativo.

4: Reducir la mortalidad infantil

-Se redujo la tasa de mortalidad en niños menores de cinco años, llegando 17.3 defunciones por cada mil nacidos vivos en 2009.
-Se redujo también la tasa de mortalidad en menores de un año a 14.6 muertes por cada mil nacidos vivos en 2009.

5: Mejorar la salud materna

-Más del 90% de los partos cuentan con asistencia de personal sanitario capacitado, pero la tendencia en la reducción de la Razón de Mortalidad Materna (RMM) en el periodo 1990-2010 no parece suficiente para alcanzar la meta en 2015. De 1990 a 2010, la RMM pasó de 89.0 muertes por cada 100 mil nacidos vivos, a 53.5
-El promedio de consultas prenatales por embarazada, atendida en instituciones del Sistema Nacional de Salud, aumentó de 4.44 en 2000 a 4.79 en 2009, y los promedios por entidad federativa reflejan una disminución en la desigualdad regional.
-Entre 1992 y 2009, la prevalencia de uso de anticonceptivos en mujeres unidas en edad fértil aumentó a 72.5%, mientras que en el ámbito rural pasó a 63.7%.

6: Combatir el VIH/SIDA, el paludismo y otras enfermedades

-La prevalencia del Virus de Inmunodeficiencia Humana (VIH) resulta relativamente baja comparada con la internacional (tasa de prevalencia de 0.38 enfermos por cada 100 personas, en el grupo de 15 a 49 años en 2010).
- Desde finales de 2003 se alcanzó el acceso universal y gratuito a Tratamientos Antirretrovirales para personas con VIH/SIDA.
- Se logró detener  y comenzar a reducir el paludismo y la tuberculosis; las tasas de prevalencia son relativamente bajas y se concentran en las zonas con mayor grado de marginación.

7: Garantizar la sostenibilidad del medio ambiente

-Se han logrado mejoras sustantivas al: incrementar las Áreas Naturales Protegidas con el fin de reducir la pérdida de biodiversidad; disminuir el consumo de Sustancias que Agotan la Capa de Ozono; avanzar en el abastecimiento de agua potable y la cobertura de saneamiento de aguas residuales (en  2010, el 90.9% de la población cuenta con agua entubada y 89.6% con servicios de saneamiento); disminuir la proporción de población urbana que habita en viviendas precarias.
-Persisten retos en la agenda ambiental, como la disminución de la superficie cubierta por bosques y selvas, la reducción de las emisiones de dióxido de carbono (CO2) y la presión sobre los recursos hídricos.

8: Fomentar una asociación mundial para el desarrollo

-En la meta dirigida a que un mayor número de personas aproveche los beneficios de las telecomunicaciones, el número de líneas de teléfonos fijos se triplicó en las últimas dos décadas; el número de suscripciones de teléfonos celulares se sextuplicó en los últimos diez años y, la penetración del servicio de Internet pasó de 5.1 a 31.0 usuarios por cada 100 habitantes en el mismo periodo.

Fuente: elaboración propia con base en Presidencia de la República. Los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio en México. Informe de Avances 2010.







































No obstante los avances reportados, el Informe también indica que aún queda un largo camino por recorrer, y señala retos que requieren de coordinación entre los Poderes Ejecutivo, Legislativo y Judicial, los órdenes de gobierno federal, estatal y municipal, y la sociedad civil organizada, para lograr hacer frente a: la persistencia de la desigualdad en el ingreso y a las condiciones de pobreza y vulnerabilidad en que aún viven muchas familias en México;  la necesidad de redoblar esfuerzos hacia las metas de reducción del índice de mortalidad materna, la consolidación de la equidad de género y el establecimiento de otros objetivos y metas que favorezcan un desarrollo más equitativo y justo; al reto vital del medio ambiente y al de un mayor crecimiento económico. Asimismo, ubica la necesidad de un diagnóstico que profundice en las causas estructurales de la pobreza y la desigualdad, para avanzar en su solución eficiente, integral y a un ritmo más acelerado, mejorando el diseño de las políticas públicas con un enfoque multidimensional.

Por otro lado, organismos como el Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) y la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), también dan cuenta de la problemática del desarrollo nacional. El PNUD ubica a México en el umbral de los países de más alto nivel de desarrollo, pero registra grandes disparidades en el Índice de Desarrollo Humano (IDH) entre regiones, entidades federativas y municipios del país. Por su parte, las estadísticas de la CEPAL sobre la evolución de la pobreza y la indigencia de 1999 al 2011, en áreas urbanas y rurales de 19 países latinoamericanos,[5] reflejan que mientras en el año 2000 México se ubicaba por debajo del promedio regional tanto de pobreza como de indigencia rural y urbana, para 2010 ya rebasaba la media de 29.4% de pobreza con un 36.3% de su población viviendo en tales condiciones, destacando el incremento en la indigencia urbana.[6] En ese año, México tenía 112 millones 336 mil 538 habitantes,[7] lo que significaría que la CEPAL estimaba que alrededor de 40 millones 778 mil 163 personas vivían en la pobreza y la indigencia.  Esta cifra resulta conservadora al compararla con la medición de la pobreza por ingresos realizada por el Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social (Coneval) para el mismo año, pero aunque los valores cambien, la tendencia que revelan es la misma: entre 2008 y 2010, el Coneval reporta la reducción en el ingreso real de los hogares en áreas urbanas, al tiempo que constata el aumento de la pobreza alimentaria[8] a 18.8% de la población (21.2 millones de personas), de la pobreza de capacidades[9] a 26.7% (30.0 millones de personas), y de la pobreza de patrimonio[10] a 51.3% (57.7 millones de personas).[11]

Dado que el indicador de pobreza por ingresos solamente da cuenta de uno de los ocho factores que estipula la Ley General de Desarrollo Social (LGDS) para medir la pobreza en México -ingreso, rezago educativo, acceso a los servicios de salud, acceso a la seguridad social, calidad y espacios de la vivienda, servicios básicos en la vivienda, acceso a la alimentación y grado de cohesión social- el Coneval desarrolló una metodología multidimensional de medición, por la que actualmente considera en pobreza a la población cuyo ingreso es inferior a la línea de bienestar (valor monetario de la canasta alimentaria y de bienes y servicios básicos) y que padece por lo menos una de seis carencias sociales (rezago educativo, acceso a los servicios de salud, acceso a la seguridad social, calidad y espacios de la vivienda, acceso a los servicios básicos en la vivienda, y acceso a la alimentación). Asimismo, considera en situación de pobreza extrema a la población que  padece tres o más carencias sociales y que cuenta con un ingreso inferior a la línea de bienestar mínimo  (determinada por el valor monetario de la canasta alimentaria).

Bajo esta perspectiva, el Coneval identificó que en 2010, cerca de la mitad de la población en México (46.3%), vivía en condiciones de pobreza; esto es, 52.1 millones de personas. De esta población, una de cada tres personas (34.9%) vivía en pobreza moderada (39.3 millones de personas); y poco más de una décima parte (11.4%), en pobreza extrema (esto es 12.8 millones de personas). El 53.7% de la población restante (60.5 millones de personas) fue considerada por el Coneval como no pobre, pero entre la cual casi tres de cada diez personas (28.8%, equivalente a 32.4 millones de personas) eran vulnerables por carencias sociales, esto es, tenían al menos una carencia social, aunque su ingreso se ubicara por arriba de la línea de bienestar. Asimismo, una de cada diecisiete personas (5.7%, equivalente a 6.4 millones de personas) era vulnerable por ingresos ya que no presentaba carencias sociales pero su nivel de ingresos era inferior a la línea de bienestar. Por último, casi una quinta parte de la población (19.3%, esto es 27.1 millones de personas) no era considerada pobre ni vulnerable. Cabe mencionar que respecto a la incidencia de carencias sociales a nivel nacional, la mayor la tuvo la de acceso a la seguridad social: el 60.7% de la población (equivalente a 68.3 millones de personas) carecían de ella. Por su parte, la carencia de acceso a los servicios de salud incidió en el 31.8% de la población (35.8 millones de personas). El 24.9% de la población (28 millones de personas) presentó carencia en el acceso a la alimentación; el 23% (25.9 millones de personas) carencia en el indicador de servicios básicos en la vivienda; el 20.6% de la población (23.2 millones de personas) presentó rezago educativo, y finalmente, el 15.2% (17.1 millones de personas) tuvo carencia en la calidad y espacios de la vivienda.[12]

Todo este panorama nos lleva a cuestionar la efectividad de la política social que se ha venido implementando en nuestro  país, así como las limitaciones del enfoque de los ODM, que desde su establecimiento consideramos como parte de un “piso” básico para el desarrollo social y no como un “techo” por encima del cual ya no hubiera necesidad de construir. Para alcanzar cambios significativos y sostenibles en la vida de las personas y las comunidades, y no solamente reducir brechas en la estadística, es indispensable replantear los actuales paradigmas de desarrollo social y económico desde el enfoque de los derechos humanos, concebidos éstos integralmente. Tanto los derechos civiles y políticos -entre los que se encuentran no sólo las libertades fundamentales sino los derechos de acceso a la información, a la consulta y a la participación en los asuntos públicos- como los derechos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales - que incluyen el derecho a un nivel de vida adecuado y el derecho de los pueblos a la libre determinación para proveer a su desarrollo económico, social y cultural así como su derecho a no ser privados de sus medios de subsistencia- son esenciales para lograr un verdadero desarrollo, sustantivo, equilibrado y sostenible, en donde los fines son tan importantes como los medios.

No obstante algunos importantes avances, como la reforma constitucional en materia de derechos humanos de junio de 2011, los derechos humanos en México lejos de avanzar en su realización, se encuentran en franco retroceso producto de acciones y omisiones del Estado; por ejemplo, al impulsar medidas legislativas regresivas, o acciones y proyectos de “desarrollo” que en muchas ocasiones resultan social y/o ambientalmente irresponsables –represas, monocultivos,  minería a cielo abierto, parques eólicos, corredores industriales, desarrollos inmobiliarios, comerciales, y turísticos, infraestructura carretera, privatización de servicios, entre otros- lo cual obedece en gran medida a una agenda corporativa y a una lógica de liberalismo comercial y de inversiones, que en aras de multiplicar ganancias, se distancia de los objetivos del desarrollo sostenible y equitativo. Asimismo, la imposición de tales medidas desmantela cualquier avance democrático en nuestro país, debilita los canales institucionales de diálogo y debate, al tiempo que victimiza doblemente a la población que al verse afectada en sus condiciones de vida y sus derechos, se organiza, protesta y luego es criminalizada por ello por el propio Estado que la afecta directamente, o no la protege, como es su obligación, frente a la afectación de actores no estatales.

Estando México al comienzo de una nueva administración federal que regirá al país de 2013 a 2018, la oportunidad de redefinir el rumbo es inmejorable. Lo reconoció incluso la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE), al firmar con el Presidente electo de México, en septiembre de 2012, una Declaración de Intenciones para establecer un Acuerdo Marco para la Colaboración Estratégica entre México y la OCDE, y hacerle entrega de un análisis de los principales desafíos y recomendaciones de política pública en 21 temas prioritarios bajo el título “México: mejores prácticas para un desarrollo incluyente”, señalado como una modalidad de cooperación en procesos de transición y como insumo para la preparación del plan sexenal de gobierno y la identificación de fuentes de financiamiento. En dicho documento la OCDE también expresa preocupaciones en torno a diversos indicadores sobre la realidad del país, por ejemplo: la ocupación de México del segundo lugar en desigualdad, evidenciado en que el decil más pobre de la población recibe el 1.3% del total del ingreso, mientras que el decil más rico obtiene el 36%; el segundo lugar en obesidad y la incidencia más alta en diabetes; el nivel más alto de pobreza relativa, así como una mortalidad infantil tres veces superior al promedio de la OCDE; y un gasto social muy inferior al promedio en la organización, de 7.5% del PIB frente a 24%.[13]

A inicios del presente año, en el marco del “Foro México 2013: Políticas públicas para un desarrollo incluyente",[14] convocado por la OCDE, el BM, el BID y la CEPAL, la OCDE hizo entrega al Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto de otro documento, titulado “Getting It Right. Una agenda estratégica para las reformas en México”,[15] que incluye análisis y recomendaciones para concretar los planteamientos del llamado Pacto por México, el cual es mencionado más de 80 veces a lo largo de ese documento. La importancia del Pacto por México, más allá de la polémica que causó su firma por los principales partidos políticos, radica en que anticipa, a través de 95 compromisos divididos en 5 grandes temas,[16] lo que será la agenda política, económica y social del nuevo gobierno nacional, aún antes de la elaboración -supuestamente participativa- del Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2013-2018. También es importante señalar que algunos de esos compromisos consisten en propuestas o iniciativas que entrañan acciones que impactan no siempre favorablemente el ejercicio de los derechos humanos, y por tanto debieran ser analizados y discutidos antes de implementarse. El compromiso 6, por ejemplo, anunció la creación de un Sistema Nacional de Programas de Combate a la Pobreza que debería garantizar la alimentación como un mínimo fundamental; en ese marco, el 21 de enero de 2013, inicia la “Cruzada Nacional contra el Hambre” (SINHAMBRE)[17], encabezada por la Secretaría de Desarrollo Social, que se plantea -sin contar con presupuesto específico para ello- atender a la población en pobreza extrema y carencia alimentaria, así como disminuir la desnutrición infantil aguda, entre otros objetivos. Desde el enfoque de derechos humanos la preocupación surge no en torno a los fines sino a los medios que se emplearán, por ejemplo, para incrementar la producción de alimentos en el país, y si esto implicará movilizar recursos y esfuerzos del sector privado agroindustrial -encabezado por la trasnacional Monsanto- que tiene intereses específicos en la producción de transgénicos. Al respecto, diversas organizaciones civiles y campesinas han señalado que, entre otras cuestiones, debe evitarse que a partir de las donaciones de las agroindustrias esta Cruzada sea utilizada para la promoción de los cultivos transgénicos con falsos argumentos, o para promover el consumo de alimentos industrializados ajenos a la cultura alimentaria de la población.[18]

Desde el mismo enfoque preocupa el compromiso 67 del mencionado Pacto por México, el cual plantea acciones de la Estrategia Nacional para el Desarrollo del Sur-Sureste, que incluyen:  “la ampliación y modernización de la red carretera y ferroviaria, la integración digital, el mejoramiento de la infraestructura educativa y de salud, la creación de polos de desarrollo industrial, turísticos, portuarios, agrícolas, pesqueros y de energías de fuentes renovables, con especial énfasis en las cuencas de los ríos Usumacinta, Grijalva, Balsas y Papaloapan. Todo lo anterior, mediante una coordinación del Ejecutivo Federal con los ejecutivos estatales del sur-sureste, y el impulso a las reformas necesarias en el Congreso de la Unión.” Es necesario subrayar que los planes y proyectos de “desarrollo” anteriores para esta misma región, desde el inicial Plan Puebla Panamá hasta el Corredor Pacífico -que fue considerado en el informe del Panel de Alto Nivel del G20 como un proyecto con potencial de involucramiento del sector privado para integrar la región mesoamericana y facilitar el transporte de bienes y personas para el comercio intrarregional- han sido ampliamente cuestionados por no tomar en cuenta los derechos de las comunidades de la región a la información, a la consulta y a la participación; por no evaluar adecuadamente los impactos sociales y ambientales que entrañan las obras; por no analizar y discutir con oportunidad, transparencia y profundidad las alternativas de desarrollo de proyectos con menor impacto; y por no acordar posibles medidas de reparación en caso de afectación de los derechos humanos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales de esas comunidades.[19]

No se trata de desacreditar todas las medidas sociales implementadas, ni de dejar de reconocer  algunos logros y cambios operados en la política social que desde la academia y la sociedad civil veníamos demandando años atrás; tampoco de cuestionar anticipadamente las políticas, programas y acciones que plantea el nuevo gobierno federal, sino de identificar, desde el enfoque de derechos, aquello que no abona a su realización y por el contrario, impone obstáculos o afecta su ejercicio, así como de reconocer que de no cambiar seriamente el rumbo, nuestro país acumulará rezagos y una diversidad de problemas que le impedirán consolidar su desarrollo. En este sentido, sostener una mirada acrítica y triunfalista acerca de la “tarea cumplida” respecto de los ODM, sin reparar en las limitaciones de ese enfoque, ni en las contradicciones de la política social y económica vigentes, terminará minando los avances sociales que se pretenden reportar en 2015.

Por todo lo anteriormente expuesto, resulta impostergable la revisión del modelo de desarrollo nacional desde el enfoque de derechos humanos. Esta revisión debe considerar los avances y los obstáculos en materia de desarrollo, incluyendo las brechas sociales y de género, y realizarse tanto a nivel nacional como global, en aras de promover un nuevo marco de desarrollo post-2015 basado en la agenda integral y sustantiva  plasmada en los diversos instrumentos internacionales de derechos humanos, incluidos el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos, y la Declaración sobre el Derecho al Desarrollo. Una agenda que es además dinámica, constantemente revitalizada, enriquecida y actualizada desde las perspectivas y luchas de pueblos originarios y de comunidades rurales y urbanas que, en contrapartida a los embates del modelo de desarrollo actual, proponen y construyen otra relación con el entorno y la sociedad, un modo de vida digno, sostenible, responsable, solidario, incluyente, con justicia social, paz y equidad.


[1] DECA Equipo Pueblo, A.C. es el punto focal de Social Watch en México desde 1996.

[2] El Espacio de Coordinación de Organizaciones Civiles sobre Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (Espacio DESC), es el grupo de referencia para Social Watch en México y está integrado por 17 organizaciones: Casa y Ciudad; Cátedra UNESCO de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Centro de Estudios Sociales y Culturales Antonio de Montesinos (CAM); Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh); Centro de Investigación y Promoción Social (CIPROSOC); Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral de Fomento Cultural y Educativo (CEREAL-DF); Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH); Consultoría Especializada en Justiciabilidad de los DESC (CEJUDESC); Desarrollo, Educación y Cultura Autogestionarios Equipo Pueblo (DECA Equipo Pueblo); Defensoría del Derecho a la Salud (CCESC-DDS); Food First Information and Action Network México (FIAN Sección México); Instituto de Derechos Humanos Ignacio Ellacuría, SJ (IDHIE); Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia (IMDHD); Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC); Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH); Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe de la Coalición Internacional para el Hábitat (HIC-AL); Radar-Colectivo de Estudios Críticos en Derecho (RADAR).

[3] La Alianza Democrática de Organizaciones Civiles (ADOC) y Convergencia de Organismos Civiles, son dos plataformas mexicanas encargadas de coordinar en 2013 las consultas nacionales sobre el marco de desarrollo post-2015, impulsadas por Naciones Unidas con el apoyo de Beyond 2015 y GCAP bajo convenio con la Mesa de Articulación.

[4] Presidencia de la República. Los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio en México. Informe de Avances 2010. México, agosto 2011, disponible en: http://www.objetivosdedesarrollodelmilenio.org.mx/

[5] Argentina, Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haití, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, República Bolivariana de Venezuela, República Dominicana y Uruguay.

[6] Más información en: Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), Anuario Estadístico de América Latina y el Caribe, 2012 (LC/G.2554-P), Santiago de Chile, 2012, pp. 65, 143 y 144.

[7] Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI). Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010, México. Disponible en: http://www.censo2010.org.mx/

[8] Población con ingresos insuficientes para acceder a una canasta básica de alimentos.

[9] Población con ingresos insuficientes para acceder a alimentación, salud y educación.

[10] Población con ingresos insuficientes para cubrir los requerimientos básicos de  alimentación, salud, educación, vivienda, calzado y transporte público.

[11] Coneval. Comunicado de prensa No.007, México, Distrito Federal a 29 de julio de 2011.

[12] Estimaciones del CONEVAL con base en el Módulo de Condiciones Socioeconómicas de la Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos de los Hogares 2010 (MCS-ENIGH 2010), tomadas de: Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social. Informe de Pobreza en México 2010: el país, los estados y sus municipios. México, D.F., CONEVAL, 2012, pp.14, 23-25. Este informe constituye la primera vez que se cuenta con información sobre la pobreza en México basada en la Ley General de Desarrollo Social. Disponible en:

[14] El Foro se realizó en la ciudad de México los días 9 y 10 de enero 2013; más información en:

[16] Acuerdos sobre: 1) sociedad de derechos y libertades; 2) crecimiento económico, empleo y competitividad; 3) seguridad y justicia; 4) transparencia, rendición de cuentas y combate a la corrupción; y 5) gobernabilidad democrática, que pueden consultarse en:   http://pactopormexico.org/acuerdos/

[17] Mayor información sobre SINHAMBRE en: http://www.sedesol.gob.mx/

[18] Más en: Conferencia de prensa de la Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Productores del Campo (ANEC), la Campaña Sin Maíz no hay País, el Centro de Orientación Alimentaria (COA), FIAN México, el Foro Nacional para la Construcción de la Política Alimentaria y Nutricional de México (FONAN), el Grupo de Estudios Ambientales (GEA), El Poder del Consumidor, Semillas de Vida, Slow Food y OXFAM México, del 30 de enero de 2013. Boletín de prensa disponible en: http://cencos.org/node/30584; y en: Rodrigo Olvera (CEJUDESC/Espacio DESC) “SINHAMBRE, una primera mirada desde la perspectiva de Derechos”, 23 de enero de 2013, en el Blog DESContando, en:http://rolveradesc.blogspot.mx/2013_01_01_archive.html

[19] Areli Sandoval (Equipo Pueblo / Espacio DESC). “Pacto por México: Observaciones y recomendaciones desde la perspectiva DESCA. Documento de trabajo y discusión”. Mimeo, 10 de diciembre de 2012.


Facing the Abyss

In Hungary a system has developed that is disrespectful to both the rule of law and constitutionalism. Hungary has turned against the democratic ideals of the world, civil liberties are restricted and today it is on a declining economic path. Political life is characterized by a murderous policy divergence, confrontation and a dangerous ideology-based polarization. The majority of the society is struggling with unjust and unequal relationships without even the hope offered by mutual solidarity. Hungary's international prestige, integrity and credibility are now at its lowest point.

Social Watch Hungary
Matyas Benyik

Political situation

At the parliamentary elections held in Hungary on 6th April 2014 the ruling right-wing populist Fidesz party won a landslide victory over its opponents and retained its two third majority. Prime Minister Viktor Orban's policy has been justified by a strong nationalist course in order to catch the wind from the sails of far-right Jobbik.

Jobbik increased its share to nearly 21%, and reached a significantly better outcome compared to 2010, so no doubt we will see more of its paramilitary Hungarian Guard rallies, and Arrow Cross nostalgia in the future.

Fidesz has transformed the electoral system and electoral districts (constuancies) according to its own political interests. However, independently of the electoral system, Jobbik has definitely become stronger as it gained not only more votes, but it has become the second force in the countryside. In many places Jobbik thoroughly has beaten the left-liberal coalition. In other words, the citizens – seeing no alternatives - clearly rejected the liberal left. If democratic opposition had not appeared so well in Budapest, the far right party clearly have become the second force. However, neither the Fidesz's nor Jobbik's results were particularly influential to the electoral result of the green party LMP.

It was not a surprise that Jobbik increased its share, because the party refrained from adopting hard extremist tones in the electoral battle, concealing its antisemitic behaviour and its hatred against the Roma. However, there is no doubt that Jobbik will continue its previous course.

In Hungary, the political situation is now ever more shifting to the right: Fidesz owns a similar proportion of the seats in the Parliament as prior to the election, and the right became stronger.

On the one hand, all this shows is that the people perceive how horribly the Fidesz government has run the country in the past four years, and also the dependence and the attendant fear of the people. It turned out, on the other hand, that the present opposition is no alternative, so the new electoral system could not have brought different results.

Since the system change in Hungary, and in Central Eastern Europe (CEE), new authoritarian regimes have been emerging. Indeed, the so-called new capitalism were unable to stabilize civilian democratic institutions and instruments in this semi-periphery of the world. The reasons are well known: the impoverishment, the long-term downward pressure on wages, maintaining high levels of unemployment, the sacrifice of millions of people require the establisment of new ruling class from the top. The historical roots of the second edition of capitalism are inseparable from the „traditions” of the interwar Horthy regime. The traditions of the new ruling class partly go back to the gentry „family tree”, thus demonstrating - mutatis mutandis - the second edition of the Horthy regime. The social structure of today's Hungary is showing the same „caste” character as the system of Horthy.

The aim of Viktor Orban is to establish a new national bougeoisie and by this to create a stable voting base. Until now this was partly successful, because the new elite has purchased the lands, brought institutions and the people into a highly dependent position. Directly or indirectly the destiny and the existence of masses are much more dependent of the new ruling class.

It became clear as well that the Left following the neo-liberal dogmatism sank and suffered an historical defeat. In addition, Socialists' untalented careerism and corruption was a more serious problem and it seems that liberal democracy is unworkable in Hungary. It turned out again that the Hungarian people do not ask for market oriented and global utopias which contradicts to their whole culture. Since Fidesz’ authoritarian system, with the help of the Liberals, closed almost all the left-wing options of political orientations, it is clear that large masses of people are behind the winners, despite the fact that only 60.2% of those entitled took part in the elections.

The result of the 2014 elections did not depend at all on the election campaign, or the party programs and the debates. Neither of these had almost any influence on the outcome of the general elections. Moreover, the result is a direct consequence of Orban's policy in the past four years.

Fidesz gained also an overwhelming victory in the EP elections on 25th May 2014: the ruling party acquired 51% of the votes in the low, only 29% turnout and 12 MEPs will be sent to the EP out of Hungary’s total seats of 21. The ruling party improved its outcome by almost 8 percentage points compared to the results in the national elections last April, while Jobbik reached second place with about 15%, which means three seats in the European Parliament.

The real surprise is the appearance of the left-liberal forces: the MSZP reaching 11% of the votes slipped to the third place, which means only two EP-seats, while the Democratic Coalition led by ex-PM Ferenc Gyurcsany causing serious surprise reached almost 10%, which means also two EP seats. Immediately behind them the party of ex-PM Gordon Bajnai, the Together 2014-PM has 7%, which represent one EP-seat.

Power relations within the left-liberal Unity have thoroughly been changed since the MSZP lost the previous leading position, the dismembered Gyurcsany fragmented the left voters. MSZP party chairman, Attila Mesterházy has offered his resignation to the Presidency of the Socialist Party National Board. After Mesterházy’s resignation chaos prevails in the MSZP and Bajnai’s party reached the limit of disintegration. Meanwhile, more and more disappointed socialist sympathizer joined Gyurcsany’s DK party.

Summary of the EP elections in Hungary

1.) Many citizens believe that on April 6 at the general elections they have fulfilled their obligations. Therefore, many asked the question why the EU Parliament and the national election was not held at the same time. If it is held in two different Sundays, the people could easily reply that they do not sacrifice their two rest days.

2.) The EU is very far from the vast majority of the 8 million Hungarian eligible voters. There is a widely spread belief that mainly the elite will benefit from the EU fundings, which are spent on new urban centers, fountains, decorative coatings.

3.) EU funding has not created new jobs, and the EU has not proved very effective in crisis management. The EU clearly followed an austerity policy, and it could not elicit any particular sympathy for the Hungarians. The EU election was in no way about the future of the EU and Hungary's 21 seats can have little meaningful influence on the functioning of the EU Parliament. In addition, there was no information on what the parties want to achieve when the mandates become reality.

4.) Thus, many citizens tend to think that domestic policy is more at stake. Low turnout is also an immediate judgment on how things are going in Hungary. Behind the massive absenteeism a rebellion against the existing order may also be discovered.

5.) The anti-EU rhetoric of Fidesz leaders who are constantly speaking about freedom struggle against the EU because „Brussels limits Hungary’s national sovereignty and interferes into our country’s internal affairs.” It would have been a miracle if under such government rhetoric more people would have gone out to vote.

6.) The low participation explains almost total lack of EP elections campaign, as well.

According to an expert, namely Balazs Böcskei the Left's electoral defeat in 2014, among other things, happened due to the lack of dealing with the important real situations facing the country today. Regarding Public Policy programs the Left only dusted off the views of the 2000s. The Left was both populist and technocratic. This means that they were unable to respond authentically to the question how the citizens' perception has changed in Hungary since 2010 or what factors could affect the former, but now broken socialist-liberal coalition, or the potential voter block after a period of eight years, four of which they ruled in actual legitimacy crisis. Regarding ​​personnel and eligibility issues, or handling the public and the civilians, as well as the relationships with their own illelectuals and the green LMP, the Left also missed the irrevocable exploration of the root of the problems.

By 2012, when we turned to the „unity” discourse, we might have guessed already that these problems can not be fixed by spring 2014 - the expert stressed. Although there was very high proportion of undecided voters, a kind of objective need arouse to introduce a new narrative on the Left to get out of the stagnation. This was the time for Gordon Bajnai’s entry into party politics. In 2012 the Democratic Coalition (DK) was in a slump, the MSZP was in a state of already familiar stagnation over four years. One thing, however, was not calculated by Bajnai, namely that in power technology he cannot overcome the MSZP in the midst of the present balance of power, since the Socialists have always been one step ahead of him.

The Orban government builds a new socio-economic model, of which contours and in some cases serious difficulty tracks for the opposition are quite visible. The role of the state, the legal environment, the relationship with the multinational firms as well as relationship between the individual and the community are under serious transformation. System-wide transformation is taking place against which only hesitant denial of the Left exists. Despite the thouroughly elaborated center-left program of the Together 2014-PM, there was no action plan on the Left represented by all other actors, but suggestions to bring back the earlier followed neoliberal system. It was too little political and public policy self-reflections perceivable by the voters in the midst of continuous weakening of the anti-Orbanism.

The left part of the Hungarian voters is still waiting -  in vain - for a savior, because in the foreseeable future no man of such type is available. While Bajnai showed only the competence of an expert and the traits of the depoliticized politics, Mesterhazy seemed a conflicting person having an ego hiding his competency. In order to be competitive against the right wing, personal and public policy quality guarantees are needed. The Left has to approach a number of policy areas, sphere of interest in a different way, and should align its organization and staff basically to its moral preferences. The facing is more difficult than it may be interpreted in terms of political communication, but only an unity can defeat the ruling Fidesz. There is no other option for 2018 elections, but to explore the strategy of a wide coalition of democratic opposition parties.

Economic situation

Since 2010 the Orban government has implemented a range of unorthodox economic reforms which have drawn criticism from economists and financial analysts alike. To break down the public debt the social benefits were abolished, private pensions funds in USD 14 billion were nationalized. Orban has introduced the biggest tax in Europe on banks and financial companies and imposed large levies upon energy, retail and telecommunications companies. VAT was raised to 27%, which is the highest in the EU. In addition, Orban has announced plans to fix the exchange rate for loans taken by individuals in CHF. Further unorthodox policies included interfering with Central Bank independence.

Prior to the 2014 parliamentary elections the Orban government re-introduced social measures, among other things, launched the so-called „overhead-battle”, which forced the utility providers of gas, electricity and water to reduce their prices by 20% in two steps: 10% in January and 10% in October 2013.

After 4 years of Fidesz rule, Hungary has not even reached the economic performance it had before the crisis. Cohesion is not moving forward either: in 2009 the country had about two thirds of the EU average purchasing parity, and the gap has been growing each year. As a result of the unorthodox economic policy Hungary’s potential economic growth has shrunk from 3% to 0-1%.

However, recent statistical reports indicate that the Hungarian economy may have finally exited of negative growth. The GDP of Hungary increased by 3.5% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. According to the first release of Eurostat, the total GDP of EU-28 increased only by 0.3% and the GDP of Germany was up by 0.8% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter.

Despite first quarter GDP-growth the recent IMF report warns the Fidesz government: „Based on current policies, the medium term growth prospects––although somewhat improving––remain subdued and below that of Hungary’s peers. While the drag from the private sector’s deleveraging is projected to gradually diminish over the medium term, policy unpredictability and persistent interventionist government policies are likely to continue depress private investment. At the same time, labor market performance, while gradually improving, is held back by the low participation rate, weak labor productivity, and skill mismatches. Although estimations are subject to high uncertainty, they suggest that, under current policies, potential output growth is likely to accelerate modestly to 0.9 –1.7 percent in 2019 from just above zero in 2013.”

Regarding the expansion of Fidesz’s public works program IMF is on the opinion that it is too expensive and resembles rather a traditional social program, as well as it does not focus on the retraining and it is inefficient, too. Only 13% of the participants in the program was able to get jobs in the labour market after exiting the public works program.

In the general election on 6 April 2014, voters said „yes” to the Orban government’s new economic policy, whose goal is to build an economy on the foundations of „labour rather than speculation”. Orban has promised a continuation of his economic policies, which include boosting industrialization, lowering energy prices – and more controversially, increasing the level of Hungarian ownership in the agriculture and banking sectors. Orban and Hungary’s Central Bank governor György Matolcsy want to see more than 50% of bank assets held by Hungarian institutions, up from the current 42%. Taxes have also been increased on sectors dominated by foreign investors. The officialy declared goal is that the multinationals should not acquire „intermediate illegal profit”. „Hungary and the Hungarian land are for the Hungarian people”.

Domestic critics say that Fidesz’s reforms benefit local businesses close to the party, while liberals say that Fidesz is actually implementing socialist measures. Hungary’s currency has come under serious pressure in the past few months as investors have backed away from emerging markets. Hungary was dubbed one of “shaky six” developing economies particularly vulnerable to capital flight.

The main problem we are facing now is that - as a result of a dysfunctional economic model - the greater part of Europe, including Hungary reached an impasse. Unfortunately, many policymakers still believe that combining foreign capital and cheap labor is equal to catching up, which is a serious mistake. It is also a big problem that among the proponents of this erroneous economic idea – with a slight difference – we can find both major parties of Hungary. The neo-liberal economic policies are spiced on the right by Fidesz and its traditional runic and Turul bird elements, and by MSZP on the Left with uncritical adoration of Europe. It goes without saying that there might be a constructive role of the capital, but it has already crossed the borders, leaving behind a socially unacceptable situation. In addition to the classical bargains and fights between the antagonistic labour and capital, the knowledge as a third factor also entered into the productive scene. However, the Hungarian leadership of the last 25 years has been ignoring this change and deteriorated Hungary into a low productivity. It will be interesting to observe whether Fidesz economic policies will pay off in the long run. If so, it would be interesting to see how the economic community accounts for the success of a number of policies which have aimed to boost consumption at the expense of inward investment.

Social situation

According to a recent survey made by the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, there are dramatic social inequalities in Hungary, the middle class is almost missing and there is a vast gap between the capital or major cities and small town or villages. The members of the upper classes typically are living in metropolitan or urban residential areas and are highly educated, while the life of lower class determined by debt and they live in rural small towns or villages, lacking of education. Every fifth Hungarian is hopelessly lost. Impoverishment and weakening of the middle class during the second term of the Orban government has accelerated dramatically.

The Hungarian society pulls down to the lower layers and it is very difficult for the lower layers to move up. The society is pear-shaped with a thin neck, at the bottom widens, the lowest part of the fruit separated from the fruit body. The leaf, however is small, and has almost no contact with the pear.

200,000 people (2%) belong to the leaf of the pear (i.e. the élite). The upper middle class is  about one million people (10.5%). The narrow middle layer (7%), belong to the rural intelligentsia. One and a half million (17%) is considered as „Kadarist small existence” while 1.7 million (18%) belong to the so-called „drifters”. One and half million workers represents 16.5% and 2 million people (23%) is in the giant camp of the fallen.

Like most of the CEE region, Hungary’s employment rate has remained far below EU average. Youth unemployment is 30%, almost half of 18-35 year olds are forced to live with their parents, 75% of them are unable to save, and those who can save, save about EUR 32 per month.

The productivity difference from Western Europe has grown since EU accession, as had the wage difference. In these aspects, Hungary again resembles almost all of the CEE region. Hungarian average wages (at around 30% of EU average) provide a standard of living that is comparable on purchasing power parity to the lowest fifth of Western European society. Yet some two thirds of Hungarians live below this average income level! Some 4 million of them have incomes that do not meet the subsistence minimum of basic physical needs according to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office. Roughly another 3 million of them survive from one month to the next.

The Orban government has radically revamped Hungary’s education system. Municipalities have been deprived of their functions in primary and secondary education, and the autonomy of universities has been reduced. A central government agency has become the employer of all teachers in Hungary, and the choice and provision of school books has been centralized as well. The centralization of education has been accompanied by increasing political-ideological pressure on teachers and students and by drastic cuts in funding. The budget for higher education is now around only 0.5% of GDP, less than half of the EU average. In December 2012, the government declared its intention to further cut spending on tertiary education. The planned reduction in the number of state-funded study grants from 30,000 to 10,000 has triggered a wave of student protests. The cuts in funding of higher education have partly been compensated by increased spending for vocational education. A further important change has been the increasing role of churches in education. As a result of these reforms, the quality of education, the access to education and the efficiency of the education sector have worsened.

The basic social message of Fidesz in the 2010 election campaign was that a Fidesz-led government would struggle for upward mobility in Hungarian society and represent the interests of the middle class and of low-income earners. In fact, however, the impoverishment of people in the lower-income deciles and the fragmentation and weakening of the middle classes have continued. The poorest strata of the population, first of all the Roma, have become more isolated from other strata and more dependent on state support. The plight of the hundreds of thousands of individuals holding foreign currency debt testifies to the struggle of the middle classes. The Orban government has provided some relief by shifting part of the debt burden to foreign banks, but has done little for the poor. The government has also failed to reduce the significant gap in economic and social development between Western and Eastern Hungary.

The family policies of the Orban government have not aimed at improving opportunities for women to combine parenting and employment, but instead have worked to strengthen traditional family models. The new constitution defines only married couples with children as a family. As a result, non-married couples have lost entitlements. The Orban government has introduced a new family tax allowance and has extended the maximum period for parental leave from two to three years, thereby luring women away from the labour market. There are still only a few part-time jobs for highly skilled women, and the female employment ratio is one of the lowest in the OECD and the EU.

Health care has been one of the most conflicted policy fields in Hungary. Policy-making has suffered from the lack of a separate ministry dealing with health care concerns. The Orban government’s organizational reforms have been largely confined to the nationalization of hospitals, which were previously run by municipalities. This move has made it easier to reduce overcapacity and to reduce regional and local disparities, but has also raised the danger of over-centralization. The Orban government has failed to tackle mismanagement and corruption in the health sector, the discretionary refusal of services and the increasing brain drain of doctors to other countries. The severe cuts in public spending on health care have further aggravated these problems.
















Good targets, out of sight

Serbia’s lack of any long-term vision or commitment as well as any comprehensive development strategies, make it difficult to counter the negative impact of the global economic crisis and establish a solid basis for economic growth, including increased jobs and livelihoods. In this context, with weak democratic institutions and lacking the rule of law, that the MDGs are unlikely to be achieved by 2015. There is thus a strong need to change the current neoliberal economic development paradigm to one that will focus on achieving human development for all.

Mirjana Dokmanovic, PhD
Danica Drakulic, PhD
Association Technology and Society

Lack of long-term visions, commitment and comprehensive strategies, as well as the economic crisis, jeopardise achievements of MDGs in Serbia.

Serbia’s lack of any long-term vision or commitment as well as any comprehensive development strategies, make it difficult to counter the negative impact of the global economic crisis and establish a solid basis for economic growth, including increased jobs and livelihoods. In this context, with weak democratic institutions and lacking the rule of law, that the MDGs are unlikely to be achieved by 2015. There is thus a strong need to change the current neoliberal economic development paradigm to one that will focus on achieving human development for all.

In 2005, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the first MDG review, assessing progress and trends for each goal. In 2006, it set up a multisectoral task force to customize MDG targets and indicators to the specific needs and problems of the citizens. The process involved CSOs, professional organizations, the business sector and the media. The task force developed the MDG Monitoring Framework for Serbia, whereby targets and indicators are aligned with national priorities, strategies and legislation.

One of the main challenges in tracking progress towards development goals is the existence of multiple strategies prepared according to sectorial criteria. The MDG Monitoring Framework takes into consideration priorities expressed in the only two multi-sectorial strategies, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), adopted by the Government in 2003, and the European Union Integration Strategy . The Republic of Serbia was granted the status of EU membership candidate country in March 2012, and consequently, the issues of social inclusion and poverty reduction has become a mandatory component of EU integration policy. This fact has contributed to start establishing a system for monitoring indicators of social inclusion and poverty reduction agreed at EU level.

In 2012, Serbia was selected as one among, then 56 countries, in which national consultations about UN post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals were held. As concluded, there are no sufficient new data, neither available reliable sources for all indicators, but there enough information as to derive conclusions about main tendencies and critical gaps in achieving of MDGs .

Goal 1: Poverty and employment – Not achieved

The unemployment rate is among the highest in Europe and poverty is increasing. Accordingly to the 2009 National Report of the Realization of MDGs , the total poverty rate in 2007 was halved in comparison to 2002 (14% vs. 6.6%), and the extreme poverty rate was close to zero. The latest data have shown that this positive trend was only a matter of the used methodology for monitoring poverty reduction.  The 2012 Report , based on a different, newly established methodology and system for monitoring indicators of poverty reduction harmonized with the EU standards, shows increasing trend of poverty. In 2010, 9.2% of population lived below absolute poverty line, in comparison to 8.8% in 2006, while Gini coefficient rose from 32.9 to 33.0 . Majority of the poor live in rural areas, in multimember families, have a low level of education, and are unemployed. Poverty is very high in some groups and regions (Roma, South Serbia, rural areas), and a large number of citizens is just above the poverty line. The number of children living in poverty is growing (11.6% in 2006 vs. 13.7% in 2010).


The first research on homeless in Serbia done in 2012 has turned the attention to this publicly invisible and hidden issue. Although there is no credible data about the number of homeless, the capacity of existing shelters in 12 municipalities and cities, mainly established after 2004, are insufficient, especially in winter. The research identified structural and systematic causes of homelessness, as unavailability of flats at market rates, insufficient capacity of social housing, absence of social measures, the growth of structural unemployment and poverty, and the complete disregard of the prevention of homelessness and possible resources of support. With the exception of the residents of the Roma settlements, the majority of homeless are those who lost the job due to economic restructuring and who have retired. Generally, they are excluded from the social welfare and health care system. The NGO Housing Centre opened a wider debated on homelessness in Serbia and proposed policy changes at the first conference on this issue in May 2012.

Due to the low level of demand for jobs, frequent dismissals, high level of bankruptcies and low salaries, almost a half of citizens perceive themselves at risk of poverty . From the latest National Report on the MDGs published in 2009, the unemployment rate increased from 16.4% to 26.1% in September 2012, while trends related to employment are negative. Almost one third of young aged 25-34 are without a job. The percentage of long-term unemployment is 61.8%.

On the other hand, the budgetary support of the active measures of employment has been reduced from 0.18% of GDP in 2011 to 0.10% of GDP in 2012. It is in contrary to the National Employment Strategy 2010-2020 that demands increasing of this budgetary line to 0.4% of GDP in 2013 up to 0.5% of GDP in 2020.

The UN report on the MDG Barometer 2013 indicates that it is employment and economic growth that should be put at the top of priorities in order to initiate a new cycle of development. The new Government, formed after the elections in March 2014, has announced to launch a Program of Structural Reforms 2015-2017. Unfortunately, it is not realistic to expect that this will accelerate progress towards full employment under Goal 1, as there is no sign that the current neoliberal economic context will be tackled.

Goal 2: Primary school enrollment and completion – Not achieved

The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia guarantees the right of mandatory and free education to all - preschool (nine months before starting school) and an eight-year-long primary education.

The number of school-aged children not enrolled in primary schools is increasing (2.1% in 2008/9 vs. 3.9% in 2010/11) , as well as the pupil drop-out rate in the eight class of primary school (0.56% in 2002/3 vs. 0.79% in 2009/10) . Indicators of coverage and primary school completion are much less favourable when it comes to rural and Roma children . In the next period, special attention should be paid to measures that will make education system more accessible to children from vulnerable groups.

Goal 3: Gender equality and empowerment of women – Partially achieved

An overview of the situation and trends indicates some positive steps concerning the realization of Millennium Development Goal 3. The National Strategy and the Action Plan for advancement of women address the key issues related to improving the position of women and achieving gender equality. The area of economic participation is one of the key social spheres that not only reflects, but also redefines and transforms the gender regimes. Although some progress was achieved, economic gender inequalities are still rather pronounced. They are manifested in the unequal position of men and women in the labour market, unequal awards for performance at work, and less opportunities for women to advance to positions of economic power and decision making .

The difference in the employment rate between women and men of working age (15 - 64 years) did decrease in recent years, but it is still pronounced. In 2005, the employment rate for men stood at 52.4% and 32.9% for women, while in 2010 the employment rate for men stood at 45.3% and 31.1% for women . The key elements of de iure system foundations for the improvement of gender equality have been established, but there are still many tasks to be completed.

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality – Partially achieved

This goal has almost been met, but the trend has been turning to stagnation in last couple of years .

In 2008, mortality of children under the age of five in the Republic of Serbia stood at 7.8 deaths per 1000 live births. Mortality rates are significantly dropping both among children under the age of five and among infants, in the perinatal and in neonatal periods. This is certainly due to better coverage by modern antenatal and postnatal health care, but also due to improvements in immunization coverage. Vaccination coverage is growing and reaching high values. Even with these improvements, there are significant disparities to be noted, according to regional level and socio-economic status. There is an opposite trend of decrease in percentage of exclusively breastfed infants, particularly among Roma population .

Research indicates that among the Roma, the mortality rate of children under the age of five is up to three time s higher than the Serbian average , while vaccination coverage is substantially lower. Indicators are especially unfavourable for the population living in Roma settlements.

Goal 5: Maternal and reproductive health – Partially achieved

Promotion of women's health in the reproductive period does show some improvements, such as a reduction in mortality of women of reproductive age from all causes of death, as well as from cancer . Almost all childbirths are happening in the presence of a medical worker . Figures also show a reduction in the abortion rate and an increase in the use of modern contraceptive methods, even though there are certain reservations related to a possible incomplete registration of abortions . Special attention should be paid to the continuously decreasing fertility rate and adequate health support to mothers.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases – Almost achieved

This Goal has been met to a great extent, especially with regard to HIV/AIDS incidence . In 2008, the AIDS incidence rate was 5.1 per one million people, while the AIDS mortality rate in 2008 stood at 3 per one million people. There are three times more men than women among the AIDS patients and persons who died from it and the majority of them were in the age group between 30 and 39 . AIDS incidence and mortality rates are decreasing. The incidence rate has dropped from 10.4 in 2000 to 5.1 in 2008, and the mortality rate has dropped from 5.6 to 3 deceased persons per one million people . The new National Strategy for response on HIV and AIDS  for the period 2011 – 2015 aims at preventing of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections, and providing treatment and support to all people living with HIV.

The tuberculosis incidence rate in 2011 was 24 per 100,000 people, and the percentage of successfully treated patients for 2010 was 86 . Considerable results were achieved in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases. The activities implemented with significant support of international institutions have resulted in the reduction of AIDS and tuberculosis incidence, as well as the reduction of mortality related to AIDS.

Goal 7: Environmental sustainability – Partially achieved

Adoption of the National Sustainable Development Strategy and a whole set of laws in line with EU legislation in recent years created a solid basis for the prevention of loss of resources, protection of nature, waste management and encouraging recycling, reduction of air pollution and chemicals management. Certain progress has been achieved in the supply of water to the population from the public waterworks system and the improvement of drinking water quality. Besides, a progress was made in the area of providing access to the public sewage system. However, communal wastewater treatment and waste management infrastructure remain the key challenges. There is room for improvement in energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources, which is now mostly reduced to hydro energy and biomass .

Goal 8: Global partnerships for development – Not achieved

The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals entails a dynamic and sustainable growth of GDP by 2015. Between 2005 and 2008, Serbia has achieved an economic growth, and the average GDP growth rate in this period was 6% . Unfortunately, the macroeconomic trends in recent years are not favourable. GDP per capita dropped from 5,507 USD in 2009 to 5,279 in 2012 . The public debt has increased from 29.2% of GDP in 2008 to 62.3% of GDP in March 2014 . The share of indebtedness and foreign trade deficit in GDP are above critical limits. The foreign debt reached 76% of GDP. Fiscal deficit increased to more than 2.4 billion USD. Exports, which were already considerably lower than imports, were reduced to 17% of GDP in the first half of 2012, as a consequence of the drop in export demand.

Under these circumstances, it should be assessed that public expenditures for health care, social care and education would continue shrinking.


The latest phase of the Serbian transition to the market economy, started in 2001, was not modelled with a clear vision of achieving economic prosperity of the country and livelihoods of all, but solely of livelihoods of a minority holding economic and political power. Instead of promised economic prosperity, privatization of socially-owned enterprises led to destroying of the national economy, closure of factories, mass dismissal of workers, fading of domestic products, and uncontrolled import of foreign goods. Due to the high level of corruption and crime, increasing indebtedness, the lack of effective economic and social policy, and the absence of long-term visions and multisectoral strategies, Serbia cannot counter the consequences of the economic crisis and establish a solid basis for economic growth, and increase of employment, salaries, livelihoods and quality of life. In this economic context, with weak democratic institutions and in absence of the rule of law, it is clear that the MDGs cannot be achieved.  Therefore, there is a strong need for changing the current economic and development paradigm, and for creating the new one that will focus to achieving a human development for all. There are a lot of initiatives with this respect coming from civil society, women’s groups, trade unions and independent experts, but their voices are still not heard by those who take decisions and shape policies.


MDG Monitor Report http://www.mdgmonitor.org/factsheets_00.cfm?c=SRB&cd=688 (accessed 10 October 2012)

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 1. http://www.srbijakakvuzelim.rs/index.php/mdg/index/en (accessed 3 June 2014)

Gordana Krstic et al., Progress of the Realization of Millennium Development Goals of the Republic of Serbia, (Belgrade: UNDP, 2009), 35.

Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit and Republic Statistical Office, Monitoring Social Inclusion in Serbia: Overview and Current Status of Social Inclusion in Serbia Based on Monitoring European and National Indicators 2006-2012, (Belgrade: Government of the Republic of Serbia, 2012)

Ibid. p. 26.

Ibid. p. 27.

Branislava Zarkovic et al. Without a house, without a home: Results of the research on homelessness in Serbia (Belgrade: Housing Center, 2012).

Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit and Republic Statistical Office, Monitoring Social Inclusion in Serbia: Overview and Current Status of Social Inclusion in Serbia Based on Monitoring European and National Indicators 2006-2012, (Belgrade: Government of the Republic of Serbia, 2012) 29.

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. http://www.srbijakakvuzelim.rs/index.php/mdg/index/en (accessed 3 June 2014)

Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit and Republic Statistical Office, Monitoring Social Inclusion in Serbia: Overview and Current Status of Social Inclusion in Serbia Based on Monitoring European and National Indicators 2006-2012, (Belgrade: Government of the Republic of Serbia, 2012). p. 52.

Ibid. p. 53.

Gordana Krstic et al., Progress of the Realization of Millennium Development Goals of the Republic of Serbia, (Belgrade: UNDP, 2009), p. 136.

National Statistical Office, Women and Men in the Republic of Serbia (Belgrade: National Statistical Office, 2011); Republic of Serbia. Gender Equality Directorate web site <www.gendernet.rs> . United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 7-8.

National Statistical Office, Labor Force Survey 2010 (Belgrade: National Statistical Office, 2010).

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 10-12.

Ibid. p. 12.

Ibid. p. 10. ; “Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut”, Country Progress Report January 2010 – December 2011 < http://www.unaids.org/en/dataanalysis/knowyourresponse/countryprogressreports/2012countries/ce_RS_Narrative_Report%5B1%5D.pdf> (accessed 6 November 2012).

National Statistical Office, Women and Men in the Republic of Serbia (Belgrade: National Statistical Office, 2011), 106-112.

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 14.

United Nations Development Programme Serbia web site  <http://www.undp.org.rs/?event=public.mdgTargets5>  (accessed 3 October 2012)

United Nations in Serbia, Serbia We Want – Post-2015 National Consultations in Serbia – MDG Barometer, 2013. p. 17.

Public Health Institute of Serbia, Report on Contagious Diseases in 2010. In the Republic of Serbia (Belgrade: Public Health Institute of Serbia, 2011)

“Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut”, Country Progress Report January 2010 – December 2011, < http://www.unaids.org/en/dataanalysis/knowyourresponse/countryprogressreports/2012countries/ce_RS_Narrative_Report%5B1%5D.pdf> (accessed 6 November 2012).

United Nations Development Programme Serbia web site <http://www.undp.org.rs/?event=public.mdgTargets7>  (accessed 3 October 2012)

United Nations Development Programme Serbia web site <http://www.undp.org.rs/?event=public.mdgTargets8>  (accessed 3 October 2012)

Ministry of Finance. Current Macroeconomic Tendencies – May 2014. http://www.mfin.gov.rs/UserFiles/File/tabele/2014%20maj/Tekuca%20makroekonomska%20kretanja%20mfin%2021.pdf (accessed 3 June 2014)



Gotovi ste! - You’re finished!

Slovenia has had the sharpest decline in GDP since 2008 of any euro-zone member apart from Greece, although it has so far avoided having to ask for external aid owing to having entered the crisis with a far lower sovereign debt burden. The new Government has indicated that it will continue to avoid a bailout by driving through changes including bank restructuring, privatizations, and pension and labour reforms. However, poverty has increased and many people are no longer able to meet basic needs; without state assistance, the poverty rate is estimated to rise to 24%. Those who can’t find work have dropped out of the labour force. As a result, Slovenia has joined countries where people have taken to the streets to call for a more just and balanced economy, more participatory democracy and the rule of law.

društvo Humanitas
Ajda Pistotnik
Rene Suša

Slovenia has had the sharpest decline in GDP since 2008 of any euro-zone member apart from Greece, although it has so far avoided having to ask for external aid owing to having entered the crisis with a far lower sovereign debt burden. The new Government has indicated that it will continue to avoid a bailout by driving through changes including bank restructuring, privatizations, and pension and labour reforms. However, poverty has increased and many people are no longer able to meet basic needs; without state assistance, the poverty rate is estimated to rise to 24%. Those who can’t find work have dropped out of the labour force. As a result, Slovenia has joined countries where people have taken to the streets to call for a more just and balanced economy, more participatory democracy and the rule of law.

At the end of 2011, Slovenia’s shaky centre-left coalition of Social Democrats (SDs) and their partners led by Prime Minister Borut Pahor collapsed and after the elections in early 2012 a new right wing governing coalition was formed, led by the Slovene Democratic Party (SDS) with Prime Minister Janez Janša. The post-election bargaining began rather surprisingly as the largest party, Positive Slovenia (PS), led by the mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković, failed to assemble a coalition. The new Government quickly began to show its leanings towards a more aggressive, neoliberal economics. Prime Minister Janša cited Slovakia’s neo-liberal Dzurinda governments (1998-2006) as a model to follow and has stuck to his word. However, the proposed structural adjustments are facing stiff resistance from many sides.

Apart from Greece, Slovenia has had the sharpest decline in GDP since 2008 of any euro-zone member, although it has so far avoided having to ask for external aid owing to having entered the crisis with a far lower sovereign debt burden. Moreover, the country's finance minister, Janez Susteršič, told CNN that Slovenia will be able to avoid a bailout despite the shrinking economy by driving through changes including bank restructuring, privatizations, and pension and labour reforms. Similar policy reforms were suggested to the Slovenian Government by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in their annual visit in early October. Yet Slovenia, an EU member that is believed to be even “more radical than the IMF when it comes to imposing cuts in public spending, lowering wages and reducing worker’s rights, can hardly be considered a guardian of the welfare state.”

At the end of 2012, Borut Pahor, the former Prime Minister, was elected President. Interestingly, the turnout was a record low (only 41.5%), while public protests against the political eliteas well as corruption and austerity measures, have been very strong, not only in the capital of Ljubljana, but also in smaller towns, particularly Maribor.

Family law referendum

On 25 March 2012 a referendum was held on a new family law that would represent the first comprehensive overhaul of family law. Rather than focusing on measures involving the protection of children’s rights, the opposition campaign focused on the rights of same-sex couples, to which many groups connected with the Catholic Church and the political right were opposed. The Archbishop of Ljubljana spoke about the "irreplaceable role of the family" and others argued that the law was against traditional family values and that gay couples should not be allowed adoption rights. As Slovenia had allowed the official registration of same-sex relationships in 2006, the negative outcome of the referendum was a definite step backwards in terms of protecting the human rights of vulnerable groups.

Increasing levels of poverty

According to the Statistical Office of Slovenia, in 2011 273,000 people, or 13.6% of the population, lived below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, an increase of 19,000 over the previous year. Their net monthly disposable income was less than EUR 600 per adult household member. Moreover, the material deprivation indicator showed that many could not afford some basic needs, such as adequate heating, or were late paying mortgages, rent, bills and so on or had inadequate resources to cope with unexpected expenses. The material deprivation rate was 9% higher than the year before. Without the redistributive function of the welfare state, which through social transfers mitigates the distress of low-income households, the at-risk-of-poverty rate would grow to 24.2%. Moreover, 32% of households already face difficulties making ends meet. Generally speaking, the main reasons for poverty and social exclusion are lack of jobs and low income.

Erasing the unemployed

In midst of a global questioning of current social, political and economic paradigms, Slovenia has joined the many countries where people have taken to the streets to call for a more just and balanced economy, more participatory democracy and the rule of law. It is currently difficult to measure the actual health of the country’s economy as many of the official statistics present a highly biased view, especially when it comes to employment figures. A stark example is the fact that in 2011 there were 936,000 active workers and 111,000 registered unemployed. In November 2012 the number of registered unemployed remained more or less the same, but the active workforce shrank to 807,000! This means that within a period of just one year close to 130,000 people (more than the entire registered unemployed workforce) were deleted from the public register of employment seekers. About 40,000 of those may be accounted for by unpaid housework, which is no longer counted as it was previously, but this still leaves up to 90,000 unaccounted for. This is significant as it represents about 10% of the entire workforce.

Corruption of high-ranking politicians

At the beginning of 2013, the Slovenian Independent Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC) announced the findings of a year-long investigation into the heads of parliamentary parties in relation to their declarations of assets and financial disclosure laws. The investigation revealed that two party leaders – Prime Minister Janša (head of the ruling SDs) and the Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković (head of the main opposition party – PS), had systematically and repeatedly violated the law by failing to properly report their assets to the CPC. The investigation uncovered private expenses and use of funds from unknown origins (Janša) and potential channelling of public resources through private companies (Janković) that exceed their official income and savings. Prime Minister Janša then launched a political counter-attack, discrediting the staff and the work of the CPC. It is clear that in Slovenia politicians and officials are unwilling to accept any responsibility for their actions and try to shift the blame elsewhere.

Protests, protests, protests

High levels of corruption and the fraudulent behaviour of key figures of the economic and political elite, combined with declining quality of life for the majority of the population have led to mounting discontent that was just waiting for a final spark. Resentment and outrage first exploded in Maribor, where a combination of national and local factors contributed to massive protests against the mayor and members of the town council. Inspired by the sheer force and scale of protests other towns quickly followed suit. There are several dimensions to this popular uprising. The protest banners and public statements from various groups that formed during the final months of the year carry divergent, yet clear messages. The revolt is both local (after the first uprising in Maribor, revolts took place in 27 other towns) and national, systemic and personal (against mayors and the current Government). A minor yet important component was the international dimension with some demands for withdrawal from NATO and protests against the EU.

While the revolt against key political figures, joined under the common slogan “Gotof je!” (You are finished!) was the predominant mobilizing factor, protestors also called for systemic change – such as the end of party politics, corruption, theft of common goods, casino capitalism and exploitation of workers. The response from the political elite was not surprising. The ruling party went on twitter to call the protestors zombies from the socialist regime, mercenaries of the opposition and marionettes of “godfathers in the background.” The opposition tried to capitalize on the uprisings but has not endorsed the movement beyond affirming the right to protest. The message of the uprisings was clear – the revolt is much more than just a protest against the current government and mayors, it is a revolt against the entire establishment.

A common criticism expressed by the Government and frequently repeated in the subservient mass media was that the protests have no clear message and offer no solutions. While the demonstrations themselves were more contra than pro anything in particular the parallel insurgence of people’s initiatives and civic movements has introduced a plethora of highly constructive proposals spanning the full spectrum of needed shifts in orientation. Several newspapers (including the mainstream media) and other web portals have opened up special websites where these proposals are gathered and discussed in the public arena. At the time of writing, the website of the main national newspaper Delo offers 53 articles on the transformation of the political system, 26 on the economy, 14 on the legal system and 26 on other topics. Many authors from very different professional and social backgrounds have shared their suggestions and analyses. And this is only one of the many forums where such an exchange is taking place: an ever increasing number of legal proposals are being put forth – mostly calling for anti-corruption measures, public control mechanisms and for participatory democracy. Some proposals go as far as the level of constitutional amendments and drafts of a completely new constitution are even being introduced.

Maribor – an exercise in participative democracy

The protests in Maribor were the first example of a successful self-organized popular movement that began on Facebook. The Facebook group called “Franc Kangler should resign as Mayor of Maribor,” which mobilized the first massive protests, currently has more than 40,000 supporters, not all of them residents of Maribor (the town has a population of 95,000). While the group has distanced itself from any other official demands or a political programme, other social networks quickly began to form, where people organized themselves in order to prevent the future corrupt conduct of municipal officials and their stooges. Some of these groups may in future form political parties or local alliances for elections and provide their own candidates for the position of mayor, while others seek to reform the system itself, looking for ways to bypass party political representation and reground political decision-making in town and district assemblies. The first such assemblies should start in the spring of 2013.

The impetus for this action came from one of the groups called “iniciativa Mestni zbor” (Town Assembly Initiative). Its membership is fluid and in a press releasethe group called for residents to organize themselves in local/district initiatives. Two parallel processes are happening at same time – the first are the protests against the town council, corruption and nepotism in the municipality and its subsidiaries which are assuming different, yet creative forms of dissent. Complementary to all that is a more deliberative, strategic process where members of the initiative are analysing the current state of affairs (reviewing existing/planned projects, the municipal budget deficit, social and communal issues, and topics related to the potential for locally based economic activities) and possibilities for empowerment of local citizens.

The idea behind both of these processes is to facilitate a grassroots approach to municipal self-governance and self-reliance. The general level of political participation is very low, which indicates disenchantment with existing ‘democratic’ models and a need for new ways of more direct democratic participation. While it is too early to tell whether these efforts will have a long-term impact, at least the first symbolic victory was achieved on 31 December 2012, when the mayor of Maribor resigned, thus becoming the first politician in Slovenia ever to step down due to a people’s uprising.


CNN Wire Staff, “Minister: Slovenia can avoid bailout despite shrinking economy,”20 November 2012. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/11/20/business/slovenia-finance-minister-sustersic/index.html (accessed 12. February 2013).

Marja Novak, “IMF says planned Slovenia reforms can avert bailout,” Reuters, 2 October 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/us-slovenia-imf-idUSBRE8910MS20121002 (accessed 12 February 2013).

Mirovni inštitut, “The Double Crisis of European Integration.” Available at: http://dpu.mirovni-institut.si/index-e.php (accessed 10 February 2013).

Joachim Becker, “Social protests and electoral apathy in Slovenia.” Available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/116306748/Joachim-Becker-Social-Protests-and-Electoral-Apathy-in-Slovenia (accessed 12 February 2013).

“Family Law Struck Down,” STA, 26 March 2012. Available at: http://www.sloveniatimes.com/family-law-struck-down (accessed 12 February 2013); “Slovenians reject gay adoption law in referendum,” The independent, 26 March 2012. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/slovenians-reject-gay-adoption-law-in-referendum-7585060.html (accessed 10 February 2013).

SURS – Statistical office of the Republic of Slovenia, “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2012.Available at: http://www.stat.si/eng/novica_prikazi.aspx?id=5070 (accessed 10 February 2013).

SURS, “Statistične informacije št.13, 16.oktober 2012.“ Available at: http://www.stat.si/doc/statinf/07-si-008-1204.pdf (accessed 10 February 2013).

SURS, “Aktivno prebivalstvo, Slovenija, november 2012 – končni podatki.” Available at: http://www.stat.si/novica_prikazi.aspx?ID=5263 (accessed 10 February 2013).

A change in the retirement legislation that entered into force on 1 January2013 (higher age/work years limit) has led to some earlier retirements, but the figures of retired people from November 2011 (594,000) and November 2012 (598,000) show only a modest increase as evidenced by ZPIZ (Institute of pension and invalidity insurance) database. See: http://www.zpiz.si/wps/portal/cognos/msp/upokojenci/prejemniki_pokojnin (accessed 10. February 2013).

  KPK – Commission for the prevention of corruption, “Slovenian commission for the prevention of corruption found a number of violations of financial disclosures obligations by the prime minister and the head of the opposition.” Available at: https://www.kpk-rs.si/en/the-commission/news/-/01/2013/slovenian-commission-for-the-prevention-of-corruption-found-a-number-of-violations-of-financial-disclosures-obligations-by-the-prime-minister-and-the-head-of-the-opposition (accessed 10 February 2013).

Društvo Integriteta - Transparency International Slovenia, “Zero integrity in Slovenian politics.” Available at: http://www.integriteta.si/gradiva/clanki/271-zero-integrity-in-slovenian-politics (accessed 15 January 2013).

In addition to the cases mentioned above, several MPs were found to possess fake diplomas and degrees and there are on-going investigations of international arms dealing by several high level people.

Delo, “Protesti,”2012. Available at: http://www.delo.si/zgodbe/interaktivno/protesti (accessed 10 February 2013).

The slogan »Gotof je!« is a slang transliteration of the slogan »Gotov je!« used in Serbia during the Milošević regime.

See Delo, “Revolt,”2012. Available at: http://www.delo.si/revolt/ (accessed 10 February 2013).

It should be noted that the existing constitution was never approved by a people's referendum and is in fact heavily based on the German original.

Iniciativa mestni zbor, “Da nam znova ne ukradejo Maribora,” Pekarna Magdalenske Mreže, 10 December 2012. Available at: http://www.pekarna.org/web/index.php?page=novice&subpage=novica&id=1284 (accessed 10 February 2013).


La pobreza y las inequidades persisten, a pesar del compromiso

Para acabar con la pobreza, las autoridades de República Dominicana deben impulsar un reparto equitativo de la riqueza, ampliar y mejorar la calidad de la educación, la salud, el empleo y la seguridad social, e implementar políticas en beneficio de los más vulnerables. El Plan Estratégico Nacional de Desarrollo aprobado para los próximos dos decenios son una buena herramienta en ese sentido. Si bien el gobierno que asumió en agosto de 2012 se declara a favor de la inversión social y de políticas de desarrollo humano, su discurso se contradice con la reducción de gastos sociales y el aumento de impuestos que responden a condiciones del Fondo Monetario Internacional.

Licenciada Ruth Helen Paniagua
Licenciado Elvis Ml. Soto
Periodista Rolando Arias
Licenciada Elizabeth Castro
Apóstol Manuel Almonte
Licenciado William Charpantier

Instituciones participantes: Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer y los Jóvenes (Adimjo), Fundación Étnica Integral (FEI), Fundación Monte de Dios -FUMODI, Fundación Almuerzo Infantil - FAI, Grupo de Investigación para la Acción Comunitaria (Gripac), Movimiento Socio-Cultural para los Trabajadores Haitianos (Mosctha), Red Nacional de Emergencia (RNE), Mesa Nacional para las Migraciones y Refugiados en República Dominicana (Menamird)

Para acabar con la pobreza, las autoridades de República Dominicana deben impulsar un reparto equitativo de la riqueza, ampliar y mejorar la calidad de la educación, la salud, el empleo y la seguridad social, e implementar políticas en beneficio de los más vulnerables. El Plan Estratégico Nacional de Desarrollo aprobado para los próximos dos decenios es  una buena herramienta en ese sentido. Si bien el gobierno del Lic. Danilo Medina Sanchez cuando  asumió la presidencia en agosto de 2012 se declara a favor de la inversión social y de políticas de desarrollo humano, su discurso se contradice con la reducción de gastos sociales y el aumento de impuestos que responden a condiciones del Fondo Monetario Internacional.

A pesar del constante crecimiento económico de los últimos 20 años en Republica Dominicana, 34,8% de los habitantes viven en condiciones de pobreza y 9% sufren miseria extrema, porcentajes similares al año 2000. Los planes para avanzar hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio no han tenido en cuenta la extensión de la economía informal, el predominio de las micro, pequeñas y medianas empresas, las desigualdades en el acceso  a servicios y en la calidad de vida  como  la educación, la salud y el empleo,  siendo mas perjudicada las mujeres, jóvenes y comunidades rurales asentadas en las áreas azucareras conocidas como bateyes. El desamparo y la inequidad alimentan la violencia y la criminalidad, lo cual complica aún más el logro de las metas en un círculo vicioso.


La pobreza y la desigualdad social golpean de frente y se acentúan cada día en República Dominicana, a pesar del crecimiento económico de las últimas décadas y el compromiso asumido por sucesivos gobiernos con el cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM). El país se encuentra en una situación muy similar a la del año  2000, con 34,8% de la población en condiciones de pobreza y alrededor de 9% en la pobreza extrema. La desigualdad se constata en todos los ámbitos. Jóvenes y mujeres carecen de oportunidades y el desarrollo humano es muy limitado. Cerca de 20% de la población dominicana no cuenta con documento de identidad, y 12,7% son jóvenes de 10 a 24 años. A esto se le suma una baja escolaridad y la mala calidad de la educación que ha recibido la gran mayoría de los habitantes.

La falta de oportunidades de la población y la elevada vulnerabilidad de los jóvenes y mujeres tienen como consecuencia el aumento de la violencia y la criminalidad, que representan retrocesos en materia de desarrollo humano. La erradicación de la pobreza, la igualdad de género y el acceso de la población a servicios básicos como la educación y la salud requieren, más que de crecimiento económico, de desarrollo humano. Se trata de considerar a las personas como un recurso primario para llegar luego a atender lo productivo.

Para establecer estrategias, es preciso tomar en cuenta la juventud de la población (más de la mitad de los habitantes tienen entre 10 y 34 años), que la mayor concentración de pobreza se registra en las comunidades de origen bateyano (de bateyes, asentamientos rurales precarios e irregulares, en medio de plantaciones de azúcar), y que la principal fuente de empleos son la micro, pequeñas y medianas empresas, más de 60% de las cuales operan de manera informal.

La elevada informalidad reduce el alcance de la seguridad social: más de 50% de la población económicamente activa carece de cobertura.

Desarrollo nacional, mito o utopía

El crecimiento promedio anual del producto interno bruto por habitante de República Dominicana ha sido de 3,5% en los últimos dos decenios[1] . Pero ese crecimiento no ha sido acompañado por desarrollo humano. Eso es evidente en la pobreza, la falta de servicios básicos y la ausencia de un Estado de Derecho en comunidades de origen bateyano, como las de Monte Plata, San Pedro de Macorís y Barahona.

República Dominicana se ubica en el nivel medio de la lista de 169 países evaluados según el Índice de Desarrollo Humano por el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD), en el lugar 88. De acuerdo con ese estudio estadístico anual, el desarrollo humano es un proceso en formación y de consolidación de valores sociales y culturales de alcance nacional, que debe ser inducido por el Estado a través de políticas sociales integrales y equitativas.

Desigualdad social

Las mujeres dominicanas sufren hoy mayor desempleo que los hombres y reciben menores ingresos. En 2010, la tasa de ocupación de la fuerza de trabajo masculina ascendió a 61%, y la femenina, a 33%, con lo cual la brecha fue de 27,81%[2] . En 2011, en promedio, el salario femenino equivalía en promedio a 79% de masculino[3] . La brecha salarial se ensanchó en los 15 años transcurridos entre 1992 y 2007, según evaluó el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID)[4] .

De acuerdo con el Índice de Equidad de Género de Social Watch en materia de participación económica (que pondera los indicadores de ingresos y empleos) es de 0,71 sobre un máximo de 1,0, que marcaría una igualdad perfecta (e hipotética, pues no fue alcanzada por ninguna nación del mundo) entre mujeres y varones. En lo que refiere a empoderamiento (las brechas en los empleos altamente calificados, los cargos parlamentarios y las cúpulas económicas), el índice de Social Watch cae a 0,44; a pesar de que 60% de los estudiantes universitarios son mujeres, ellas apenas ocupan 17% de los escaños legislativos. Por otra parte, alrededor de 32% de los hogares son encabezadas por madres solteras, situación aun más evidente en las comunidades bateyanas y en los sectores marginados[5] .

También ha aumentado la violencia contra las mujeres y dentro de las familias. Entre 2009 y 2012 murieron a manos de sus parejas más de 429, y fueron más de 100 en los primeros 10 meses de 2012. La tasa de embarazo de adolescentes se mantiene elevada, en alrededor de 18%[6] , situación que se agrava aún más entre las que viven debajo de la línea de pobreza y con pocos estudios. Al mismo tiempo, las mujeres más jóvenes son tres veces más proclives que las adultas a morir como consecuencia de complicaciones en el embarazo y el parto, con una tasa de mortalidad materna que se aproxima al 19%[7] , por diversos factores entre los que figuran hipertensión, abortos y cesáreas.

Por otra parte, las deficiencias del sistema de enseñanza agravan las inequidades ya presentes en la sociedad. Alrededor de 36% de los estudiantes no completan el ciclo de educación básica[8] , la mayoría de ellos pertenecientes a los sectores más pobres, pues se ven obligados a trabajar para aportar dinero a sus hogares, o a cuidar a miembros de sus familias, o a realizar tareas domésticas no remuneradas.

Estas situaciones afianzan una pobreza que se contradice con el elevado crecimiento económico de los últimos años. El 34,8% de los habitantes son pobres, y más de 9% viven en condiciones de pobreza extrema[9] . El producto interno bruto se expande pero no se distribuye de manera equitativa.

El informe gubernamental de 2011 sobre los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, presentado por el Ministerio de Economía y Planificación, admite la gran dificultad para alcanzar las metas planteadas para 2015 y sugiere que eso sería posible sólo para 2020. El pronóstico oficial apoya sus excusas en las consecuencias de la crisis bancaria de 2003-2004, y establece como condición para lograr los ODM una reducción aun mayor del gasto público[10] .

Las autoridades del nuevo gobierno, que asumió en agosto de 2012 con Danilo Medina Sánchez como presidente, han declarado públicamente su interés en la inversión social y en la promoción de políticas integrales de desarrollo humano. Sin embargo, argumentan al mismo tiempo en favor de los ajustes fiscales como una supuesta necesidad para amortiguar las consecuencias de la crisis financiera, así como proponen aumentar la presión tributaria por considerarla baja en comparación de otros  países  cercanos. En noviembre de 2012, el ex presidente Leonel Fernández Reyna recordó que el año anterior, su gobierno acordó con el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) ajustes equivalentes al 3,5 por ciento del producto interno bruto.


Los ODM fueron acordados por la comunidad internacional con el propósito de resolver problemas comunes de los países. Para cumplir con el compromiso de reducir la pobreza, República Dominicana debe tomar medidas tendentes a que el crecimiento de la riqueza se distribuya de manera equitativa, implementando políticas que mejoren la calidad en la educación, Salud y  que creen empleos decentes e incluyan programas de protección sociales dirigidos a los pobres y a los más vulnerables.

El Plan Estratégico Nacional de Desarrollo, aprobado en 2011 para los siguientes 20 años, constituye una buena herramienta hacia el logro de avances a  largo plazo. Pero es preciso consolidarlo ampliando el acceso a los servicios básicos, mejorando la calidad de la educación y de la salud, promoviendo el registro de los habitantes a la seguridad social, la integración social equitativa y la consecución de los ODM.

El 2013   fue  propicio para analizar el camino tomado hacia el cumplimiento de los ODM y del Plan Estratégico Nacional de Desarrollo y para ejercer presión, involucrando a la sociedad civil, con el objetivo de que el Estado asuma mayores compromisos, cree nuevas políticas sociales y mejore sus estrategias hacia la reducción de la pobreza y las restantes metas.

También será necesario estimular la inversión social para mejorar la calidad de vida de más de un millón de personas mediante la construcción de viviendas y la creación de empleos decentes, así como mejoras en educación, salud, y valores culturales, de modo de establecer un ambiente propicio para su empoderamiento y desarrollo.


[1] Estadistica CEPAL 1990-2011

[2] . Boletín Mensual Panorama Estadístico n.° 46  “Brecha de género en la tasa de ocupación en República Dominicana”. (Oficina Nacional de Estadística, ONE, diciembre de 2011, en http://www.one.gob.do/index.php?module=uploads&func=download&fileId=3429)            

[3]   “Las mujeres en el mercado laboral dominicano. “ Consuelo Cruz Almánzar, Santo Domingo, noviembre de 2012. Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo, enhttp://www.slideshare.net/intecsocial/vii-conferencia-dominicana-de-estu....

[4]   “New Century, Old Disparities “ (BID, 2012). Enhttp://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=37204140

[5] Informe sobre Pobreza en la República Dominicana, Banco Mundial y Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo. 2005

[6] Publicado por Agencia EFE octubre 2012

[7] ENDESA 2007

[8] Informe de Desarrollo Humano PNUD 2008

[9] Estadistica CEPAL 1990-2011

[10] Republica Dominicana, Ministerio de Economía Planificación y Desarrollo, Objetivo Desarrollo del Milenio, Informe de Seguimiento ODM 2010


Lebanon in the heart of the storm

One cannot discuss policy priorities and challenges in Lebanon without first addressing the dangerous developments the region is currently experiencing. Oppression, backwardness and the shortcomings of democracy in the region as a whole are serious hindrances that could turn the tide and reverse the more positive trends. Despite the challenges they raise, the current developments clearly demonstrate the potential for change in the region: people are no longer willing to stand idle in the face of tyranny, poverty, unemployment and marginalization. Lebanon is still facing the systemic challenges of the political confessional system. The state must be an institutional and constitutional expression of democracy and people’s rights. Genuine citizenship cannot be achieved without the rule of law, without a system that gives citizens their rights and duties towards both society and the state, which are also preconditions for an effective civil society. Thus the main obstacle to true citizenship in the country is still the partition of state offices and institutions among the different religious confessions.

Ziad Abdel Samad and Joel Ghazi

One cannot discuss policy priorities and challenges in Lebanon without first addressing the dangerous developments the region is currently experiencing. Oppression, backwardness and the shortcomings of democracy in the region as a whole are serious hindrances that could turn the tide and reverse the more positive trends. Despite the challenges they raise, the current developments clearly demonstrate the potential for change in the region: people are no longer willing to stand idle in the face of tyranny, poverty, unemployment and marginalization.

Lebanon is still facing the systemic challenges of the political confessional system. The state must be an institutional and constitutional expression of democracy and people’s rights. Genuine citizenship cannot be achieved without the rule of law, without a system that gives citizens their rights and duties towards both society and the state, which are also preconditions for an effective civil society. Thus the main obstacle to true citizenship in the country is still the partition of state offices and institutions among the different religious confessions.

The main challenge that Lebanon is currently facing is the immense flood of Syrian refugees, who are escaping the escalating violence and dramatic deterioration of the situation in their country. Official figures provided by the Lebanese authorities estimate the number of Syrians to be about 1 million while UNHCR estimates the number to be about 750 thousand. Most of them are living in very difficult conditions. Lebanese authorities have been from the beginning reluctant to provide them with any support, limiting their role to organizing the registration process. In so doing, the authorities were trying to hold the international community responsible for the refugees’ dire situation. However, as the number of the refugees drastically increased and their living conditions deteriorated seriously, the lack of support led to turmoil.

Last September, the UN Secretary General called for a meeting of “the International Support Group for Lebanon” at UN headquarters to discuss the assessment conducted by the UN and the World Bank and to adopt an emergency plan in response to the situation. It is obvious that the spillovers of the Syrian conflict in general and of the refugees issue in particular are causing tremendous pressures on the Lebanese economy.

The financial and banking systems are traditionally the backbone of the Lebanese economy, along with the tourism and services sectors. During the last decade, the Lebanese economy became vulnerable due to the constant internal political crisis since the assassination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005, followed by the Israeli attacks in 2006. Popular uprisings in the region, particularly in Syria, deepened the political divides between the different Lebanese groups and prevented the country from conducting the 2012 parliamentary elections—to select the government as well as the chief commanders of the army and the internal security forces-- on time. The mounting political tension led to enormous economic and social challenges, including economic stagnation and increasing prices for food as well as essential commodities.

The Lebanese political crisis had a direct impact on the implementation of development policies in general and more specifically on efforts to meet the country’s development goals. Furthermore, the success of any social, economic or cultural endeavor is highly dependent on the political climate. Clearly, sectarian divisions must be separated from state institutions, which have to be unsoiled by political disputes; political figures have to stop grabbing and treating public institutions as their own private backyard. In structural terms, the main reforms needed in Lebanon are the following:

Reforming the Lebanese economy by adopting a new paradigm to enhance productive capacity and shifting from “a rentier state economy” towards a real economic system.  This must also be coupled with a reform of the laws governing both parliamentary and municipal elections, and with administrative decentralization.

Planning and implementing programs to improve the living conditions of Palestinian refugees: the main concern is about their lack of economic and social rights and the absence of any law governing their situation. The same goes for non-Palestinian refugees, with the exception of their right to register and get official papers through the UNHCR process.

Ensuring respect for human rights by lifting reservations to CEDAW Articles 9 and 61 governing the personal status of women and children as well as the CEDAW optional protocol and by adopting adequate measures to respect the rights of people with disabilities. Journalists too face many obstacles, even more than last year, according to Reporters without Borders. Needed are adequate judicial protection and an end to prior censorship, along with eliminated the hold of economic and political elites on media outlets.  The right to access to information is also a must for transparency and for monitoring state expenditures.

Social and economic difficulties

Economic and social rights in Lebanon are all subject to policy-related violations. The consequences of economic and social policies originating from the national reform agenda known as “the Paris III” are made worse by the absence of a budget as well as of a comprehensive development agenda. Adding to that, security and political turmoil has led to backsliding, particularly regarding unemployment, poverty and social and geographic disparities. The main issues focused on here are: labor, social security, decent living standards, health, education, social protection and the impact of trade on social and economic rights.

Common to the frequent violation of all these rights are the following structural needs:

  1. The administrative and structural reforms of all ministries in order to improve their effectiveness and efficiency, especially in implementing laws and issuing decrees;
  2. The de centralization of services and the elimination of geographic disparities and inequalities that span all of the social and economic problems in the country.

Right to an adequate standard of living

The lack of reliable statistics regarding economic conditions is a serious problem. Inadequate measurements lead to inappropriate policies. However, it is well established that women are hardest hit by poverty and that in terms of income and growth, Lebanon fairs poorly in comparison with neighboring countries. Health issues, tax policies, environmental degradation can all be added to the list of problems impeding adequate living standards in Lebanon. In order to address this reality, the following priorities must be met:

  1.  Enhancing the public administration for more accurate  statistics
  2. Reforming the taxation system to achieve a fairer distribution of wealth
  3. Adopting decent work generating strategies with particular regards to women
  4. Adopting a law for administrative decentralization that enlarges the mandate of the local elected authorities
  5. Reorganizing the energy and water sectors to provide services to all regions in the short, medium and long terms.
  6. Establishing laws protecting the environment in all regions of the country
  7. Applying UN conventions relative to fighting corruption and its consequences.

Right to work

The Lebanese labour market is characterized by the absence of any form of justice, equal opportunities or meritocratic hiring. While statistics are barely reliable, they indicate that youth unemployment constitutes some 48.4% of total unemployment, and that women and people with disabilities are the least represented in the labour force, as only 28% of the workforce are women while 83% of people with disabilities are unemployed. Reforms should include:

  1. Revision of the current labour legislation in order to: develop the country’s productive sectors, improve laws protecting workers from work-related accidents, establish an unemployment fund and improve social security in general.
  2. Abolishment of the sponsorship system for domestic foreign workers and ensure the protection of their rights.
  3. The signature and ratification of ILO Convention # 87 on the right to organize and amendment of current laws in line with this, including raising the legal working age to 14; and the implementation of a quota of 3% employment for people with disabilities in accordance with Lebanese law 2000/200.

Right to education

The right to education is ostensibly guaranteed by the Lebanese Constitution. However, the qualitative chasm between private and public institutions continues to be a major challenge, leading to the segregation and marginalization of students unable to pay the exorbitant fees of private institutions and universities. Another glaringly obvious fact is the absence of mechanisms for implementing universal free education. In spite of the fact that this was adopted as a law by parliament, no executive steps have been taken so far. It is worth mentioning that this does not include any provisions for people with disabilities. With regards to education, the following benchmarks should be prioritized:

  1. Improve the quality of public education and adopt a unified program
  2. Insert values of citizenship and environmental awareness in curriculums and transform religious education into “religious culture”
  3. Ensure the development of research and planning in universities and improve links with state consultancy needs
  4. Adopt programs to improve the performance of teachers in elementary and secondary education as well as in higher education.

Right to health

Owing to structural distortions in the country’s sanitary system, about half of the population lacks access to adequate public health care. Although public hospitals have been improved in some regions, they remain inadequate, while most people cannot take advantage of private health services owing their steep price. The following reforms are therefore critical:

  1. Reform the public health system in order to ensure universal coverage to all citizens
  2. Guarantee appropriate access to information on health issues
  3. Improve cooperation between the private and public sectors in the field of health
  4. Reactivate the National Bureau of Medications.

Right to social security

Notwithstanding a recent increase, social spending in Lebanon is not based on a comprehensive national policy, and does not provide the basis for the gradual realization of universal social security for all citizens. Indeed, the biggest portion of social spending is devoted to social safety net programs targeting the poorest. The following reforms are needed:

  1. Enshrine a comprehensive policy for social development 
  2. Provide a comprehensive plan for the elderly
  3. Amend the Social Security Act to eliminate discrimination against women
  4. Allow foreign workers to benefit from social security coverage.

Trade liberalization

Each time the Government negotiates trade liberalization agreements, it totally neglects its national and international commitments. These negotiations are undertaken without any impact assessment on economic and social rights or social and sustainability consequences. The most dramatic illustration of this was the great damage done to the industrial sector after the unilateral removal of tariffs in 2000. Furthermore, the process of trade liberalization in the agricultural sector is seriously threatening food sovereignty, food security and the right to work.  Further liberalization of services will most likely weaken the sector’s competitive capability and limit its local and national organizational ability. Such considerations are all the more vital when it comes to liberalizing the provision of essential services such as education and health. As bilateral, regional and multilateral trade agreements continue to be negotiated, full impact assessments become critical, as they seriously limit state policy space for improving the productive sectors. On top of all that, they render the state unable to respect and protect human rights and social security. Therefore, the following measures are vital:

  1. Examine Lebanese trade policy to align it with a comprehensive development strategy that is not confined to economic aspects
  2. Ensure that trade liberalization agreements do not lead to greater social and economic discrimination. Particularly, ensure that trade liberalization in agriculture does not hamper food security and food sovereignty
  3. Exercise the right to use safeguards in the case of rising waves of unexpected imports
  4. Ensure respect for the right to work when negotiating trade liberalization agreements
  5. Provide basic services to all citizens with respect to a decent living
  6. Conduct social and economic impact studies of free trade agreements before their signature
  7. Commit to a participatory approach encompassing all concerned sectors when negotiating free trade agreements
  8. Reactivate the Lebanese National Commission concerned with the country’s membership in the World Trade Organization.


Lebanon is facing alarming challenges stemming from regional situation, especially the escalation of the armed conflict in Syria. At the same time, Lebanese society is highly polarized, which has direct implications on public decision-making. Clearly therefore, the new challenges caused by the deteriorating situation in neighboring countries, plus the old challenges arising from the structural and sectarian nature of the regime, necessitate serious and immediate measures and interventions.

It is worth mentioning that successive Lebanese governments have taken many decisions to implement the MDGs. In 2004 Prime Minister Hariri nominated a multi-ministerial committee for poverty eradication, although he was assassinated in 2005 before taking any tangible steps in this regard. Another multi-ministerial committee was nominated in 2006 to suggest a national strategy for social development, which was never implemented owing to the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. In 2010, the Minster of Social Affairs proposed a national strategy for social development which was not presented to the council due to the resignation of Prime Minister Mikati’s government and the formation of a caretaker government in April 2013.

Lebanese citizens, refugees (including the Palestinians and Syrians), as well as migrant workers are all living under enormous and increasing economic and social pressures. These challenges require immediate measures at the policy level as well as adequate resource allocations. However, the country is not able to address these challenges properly due to the deep political divide which render Lebanon a frail state under tremendous threat.


Ziad Abdel Samad is Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and Joel Ghazi is research officer.

 See: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=122  ( accessed  30 September 2013).

Reporters without Borders ranked Lebanon 93rd in its 2012 report, a fall of 32 ranks compared to 2009; see: http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

The Paris III agenda was signed in January 2007 to provide support for Lebanon’s post-war reconstruction. It aims at stimulating growth, creating employment, reducing poverty and maintaining social and economic stability as well as increasing “Lebanon’s role in the free trade system,” and speeding up the negotiations regarding Lebanon’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). See: http://www.socialwatch.org/node/11084   (accessed 28 September 2013).  

http://www.undp.org.lb/WhatWeDo/MDGs.cfm ( accessed 29 September 2013).

See: http://www.annd.org/arabic/data/publications/pdf/46.pdf (accessed  29 September 2013). 


Les cibles nationales des OMD sont loin

Les cibles nationales des OMD au Cameroun sont loin d’être atteintes d’ici à 2015. Nous recommandons des efforts soient dans le sens de: la transparence dans la gestion des ressources publiques; l’amélioration de la qualité du système éducatif; la fourniture en quantité de l’énergie qui va renforcer le programme élargi de vaccination et la réduction des maladies de l’enfant, et l’introduction des programmes de développement durable, notamment par une bonne législationfoncière et l’introduction des normes de gestionenvironnementaledans la stratégie de la croissance.

Jean Mballa Mballa (Membre de Dynamique citoyenne)
Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement endogène et Communautaire (CRADEC)


Ce rapport s’inscrit dans la continuité des efforts faits par la société civile camerounaise en général et du CRADEC (Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement Endogène et Communautaire) en particulier dans le suivi des politiques publiques, comme membre de Dynamique citoyenne et de Social Watch. Il est la contribution pour le rapport annuel de Social Watch d’un certain nombre d’acteurs sur la présentation des progrès réalisés dans l’atteinte des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement au Cameroun.

Au plan national, les OMD ont été alignés sur le Document de Stratégie pour la Réduction de la Pauvreté (DSRP-2006/2009) et sur le Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi (DSCE-2010/2020), ceci dans l’optique de traduire la volonté du gouvernement camerounais à respecter la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme, le Pacte International relatif aux Droits Economiques, Sociaux et Culturels.

Le rapport présente brièvement la caractérisation sociale, économique et politique de l’économie camerounaise dans son ensemble. Cette  caractérisation met l’accent sur un certain nombre de secteurs parmi ceux considérés comme pro pauvres par Dynamique citoyenne. Pour les besoins du rapport de Social Watch, l’analyse a accordé l’attention sur des secteurs pro pauvres et considérés prioritaires. Il s’agit de : l’Agriculture, la santé, l’éducation et l’emploi. Ce choix se justifie par le fait  qu’ils sont porteurs du développement humain d’une part et de la croissance d’autre part. De plus, ils sont incontestablement, les secteurs qui influencent directement la majorité de la population.

Les progrès réalisés dans ces différents secteurs sont présentés sur la base des informations collectés auprès de différentes sources, tant institutionnels qu’empiriques. Nous concluons le rapport par des recommandations.

Rappel du DSCE et des OMD

Afin d’atteindre les OMD adoptés en 2000, le gouvernement du Cameroun s’est doté d’une politique de référence à long terme pour un Cameroun émergeant à l’horizon 2035, jalonnée dans sa première décade 2010-2010 par une stratégie pour la croissance et l’emploi. Le Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’emploi (DSCE) qui croise avec les OMD s’est fixé comme objectifs (i) Porter la croissance à environ 5,5% en moyenne annuelle dans la période 2010-2020 ; (ii) Ramener le sous emploi de 75,8% à moins de 50% en 2020 avec la création de dizaines, (iii) Ramener le taux de pauvreté monétaire de 39,9% en 2007 à 28,7% en 2020. Il s'agit là d'un décalage mesuré de l'objectif du millénaire.

De milliers d'emplois formels par an dans les dix prochaines années (iv) Réaliser à l'horizon 2020, l'ensemble des objectifs du millénaire pour le développement (OMD).

Tableau : Quelques indicateurs économiques clés









Croissance du PIB réel








PIB pétrolier








PIB non pétrolier








Croissance du PIB réel par habitant








Croissance du PIB réel hors pétrole par habitant








Le ratio des recettes non pétrolières sur le PIB








Taux d’investissement








Taux d’investissements publics








Solde primaire hors pétrole (% du PIB)








Source: (DSCE, 2009); basée sur les données du MINEPAT.

Les progrès réalisés sur le plan national

OMD 1 : Réduire l'extrême pauvreté et la faim

En 2001, la proportion de la population vivant en dessous du seuil de pauvreté s’évaluait à 40,2%. En  2007, une légère baisse de 2  points est enregistrée portant ce seuil à 39,9%. Pour ce qui est de la faim, la prévalence de l’insuffisance pondérale évaluée  à 19% en 2007 doit être ramenée à 8%. Pour atteindre l’objectif de 28,7% du taux de pauvreté fixé par le gouvernement à l’horizon 2020, les politiques de croissance doivent porter le taux du PIB à plus de 5,7% en moyenne annuelle à partir de 2010, date de début de la mise en œuvre du DSCE, à travers la création d’un environnement favorable au développement du secteur privé et la création d’emplois décents, la mobilisation de financements extérieurs et une réduction des inégalités. L’augmentation de la production agricole face à la crise alimentaire de 2008 qui a entrainé les  émeutes de la faim est un impératif pour la sécurité alimentaire du pays.

Une estimation faite sur la base de 2 points sur 6 ans, nous situerait à un taux de 37 % en 2012. Les 2.260 cal/hb/jour  situent le Cameroun parmi les moins performants des pays en voie de développement en matière de sécurité alimentaire. Cet état des lieux présage de la non atteinte de l’objectif de 20% à l’horizon 2015. La projection nationale qui situe à 28,7% ce taux à l’horizon 2020, suppose que les efforts sont faits pour faire reculer de 10 points.

Nous recommandons une bonne gestion des ressources allouées pour la réalisation des projets structurants devant soutenir une accélération du calendrier d’exécution des grands chantiers d’infrastructures pour un développement du secteur privé considéré comme moteur de la croissance. Ceci peut participer à diminuer considérablement le chômage des jeunes. , Bien que le taux de chômage des jeunes de 15-24 ans aient considérablement baissé allant du 14,4% à 4,5%, le sous-emploi de ceux-ci reste prononcé. Sur 10 jeunes, 7 jeunes sont sous-employés.  De plus, les efforts de mobilisation annoncés dans la recherche des financements externes doivent aussi s’intensifier sur les ressources internes par le biais d’une fiscalité juste et efficace et l’exploitation optimale des ressources naturelles. Parmi celles-ci, la terre doit faire l’objet d’une réforme juridique qui préserve et favorise la sécurité et la souveraineté alimentaire  en réaction à la forte demande des multinationales.

OMD 2 : Assurer l'éducation primaire pour tous

L’accroissement de la population implique une forte demande de l’éducation au Cameroun. Pour faire face à cette demande, la stratégie de l’éducation vise l’amélioration de l’offre de l’éducation à travers entre autres la construction de plus de salles de classe, le nivellement du personnel enseignant à travers la contractualisation des instituteurs vacataires et le paiement des arriérés de la subvention accordée à l’enseignement privé laïc et confessionnel.

Le rapport d’analyse des données dans les zones d’intervention de l’UNICEF de 2009 , indique un taux net de scolarisation  de  82,85%. A l’école primaire, il est de 88,43% pour les garçons et 77,31% pour les filles. Entre 2001 et 2007, il connait une légère hausse de 0,3 point. Le taux brut de scolarisation au préscolaire chez les enfants de 3-5 ans est de 20,71%. L’indice de parité filles/garçons est évalué à 0,88 pour le taux de scolarisation à l’école primaire. Le ratio Elève/Maître à l’école primaire est de 53/1. Le taux de passage de l’école primaire au secondaire est de 60% alors que le redoublement y est à 30%. La base de données de la Banque Mondiale évalue en 2010, à 120% le taux brut d’admission.

Si de manière générale, les indicateurs sont encourageants, il est à relever que de fortes disparités existent entre les différentes régions du pays. Les raisons culturelles sont la cause de cette situation dans les 3 régions septentrionales (Adamaoua, Nord et Extrême-Nord) ou zones d’éducation prioritaires (ZEP). Cette situation invite à plus d’efforts dans les ressources à allouer dans les infrastructures, notamment l’augmentation des salles de classe et le recrutement des enseignants dans les écoles primaires des zones d’éducation prioritaires où les disparités sont criardes. Ceci aura pour effet l’amélioration  des conditions d’éducation dans les ZEP. Pour un enseignement de qualité, le statut des enseignants doit être amélioré. Ceci aura pour conséquence la stabilité du personnel enseignant au sein des ministères en charge de l’éducation primaire et secondaire.

OMD 3 : Promouvoir l'égalité des sexes et l'autonomisation des femmes

La femme représente plus de 50% de la population nationale, d’après le Recensement Générale de la Population et des Ménages. Elles sont confrontées à plusieurs difficultés : faible scolarisation de la jeune fille, faible insertion dans le circuit formel de l’économie, violation des droits humains et civiques, etc. Les engagements internationaux auxquels le gouvernement a souscrits l’ont amené à prendre un certain nombre de mesures allant dans le sens de la promotion de la femme et de la famille. En dehors des régions du Nord, de l’Adamaoua et de l’Extrême-Nord, qui présentent  des disparités, le rapport de scolarisation filles/garçons est passé de 0,83 à 0,88 entre 2001 et 2007. Par ailleurs, l'alphabétisation des femmes des 15- 24 ans est restée stable à environ 0,88. Cependant l’autonomisation de la femme camerounaise affiche de pauvres indicateurs tant sur le plan économique que sur le plan politique. Seules 64 femmes siègent aux conseils municipaux sur 360 sièges. Il en est de même de la représentation nationale où 25 femmes sur 180 sont dans le parlement pour la législature 1997/2012 contre 19 pour la législature 1992/1997. De plus certaines régions n’ont pas de députés femmes comme l’Adamaoua, le Nord et le Nord-ouest.

Cette situation, loin des objectifs, recommande une volonté politique plus hardie notamment dans l’amélioration du statut socio juridique de la femme à travers le code de la famille en préparation depuis plus de 10 ans.

OMD 4,5 et 6 secteur de la santé

La problématique de la santé repose sur le nécessaire équilibre entre la prévention, l’offre de soins de sante de qualité et la disponibilité du médicament essentiel.  Pour réduire la mortalité infantile, améliorer la santé maternelle et combattre le VIH/SIDA, le paludisme et les autres maladies, la stratégie sectorielle de la santé repose sur  l’amélioration de l’offre de soins de santé de qualité, la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA, la tuberculose et la maladie, la participation communautaire au financement et à la gestion des formations sanitaires.

OMD 4 : Réduire la mortalité infantile

Entre 1998 et 2004, le taux de mortalité des moins de cinq ans est passé de 150,7‰ à 144‰, la cible nationale pour 2015 étant de l'ordre de 75,8‰. Pour atteindre cet objectif, la stratégie sectorielle de la santé  a développé un programme élargi de la vaccination (PEV) avec des actions de mise en place de la chaîne de froid, l’installation des incinérateurs,  l’externalisation du système de maintenance des équipements. L’extension de la campagne de dépistage du VIH/SIDA participe au contrôle de la transmission du virus de la mère à l’enfant.  Malgré des efforts consentis dans le domaine de la santé, la cible nationale risque de ne pas être atteinte à l'horizon 2015.  L’évolution de ce taux (151‰ en 1998 et 144‰ en 2004) montre que pour atteindre cet objectif, des efforts intenses doivent être fournis pendant les six prochaines années. D’après les résultats de l’EDS-2004, bien que 85% d’enfants de 12-23 mois aient été vaccinés contre la tuberculose avant l’âge de 12 mois, seuls 48% étaient complètement immunisés contre les maladies cibles du PEV.

L’amélioration des performances du PEV et la facilitation de l’accès et l’utilisation des moustiquaires imprégnées pour un plus grand nombre d’enfants de moins de cinq ans constituent des défis en prévention pour atteindre l’objectif national. L’amélioration des conditions d’hygiène dans les ménages et de la nutrition des enfants constituent également des facteurs importants de la santé des enfants.

OMD 5 : Améliorer la santé maternelle

L’objectif  national d’amélioration de la santé maternelle est de ramener la mortalité maternelle de 430 décès enregistrés pour la période 1991-1998 à 344 décès pour 100 000 naissances vivantes en 2015. L’EDS-2004 estime à 669 décès pour 100 000 naissances vivantes le taux de mortalité maternelle au Cameroun pour la période 1998-2004, en augmentation par rapport aux 430 décès estimés par l’EDS-1998 pour la période 1989-1998, montrant ainsi que l’on s’éloigne plutôt de l’objectif

Au regard de l’évolution de la proportion d'accouchements assistés par un personnel de santé qualifié (passée de 52% en 1998 à 62% en 2004), on était en droit de s’attendre à une amélioration conséquente du niveau de mortalité maternelle au Cameroun. D’autres facteurs doivent être pris en considération, comme une insuffisante qualité des soins, ou encore l’absence de toute assistance lors des accouchements, dont le taux est passé au Cameroun de 2,3% à 5,4% entre 1998 et 2004.

Pour améliorer les indicateurs en vue de l’atteinte de l’OMD5, il faut réduire les trois retards à l’origine de nombreux décès maternels : (i) retard au dépistage des complications, (ii) retard à l’arrivée de la femme enceinte au centre de santé, et (iii) retard à l’administration de soins appropriés.

OMD 6 : Combattre le VIH/Sida, le paludisme et d'autres maladies

La troisième enquête démographique et de santé réalisée en 2004, a révélé une prévalence globale du VIH/SIDA de 5,5% au niveau national avec 6,8% pour les femmes contre 4,1% pour les hommes de 15- 49 ans. D’après les résultats de la quatrième enquête, la prévalence globale a diminué à 4,3% en 2011 . Cependant, cette tendance à la baisse n’est pas aussi significative chez la femme affectée à 5,6% que chez les hommes où elle est à 2,9%.  Il convient de noter par ailleurs, que la prévalence du VIH est plus faible en milieu rural (3,8 %) qu’en milieu urbain (4,8 %) et surtout qu’à Yaoundé/Douala où 5,5 % des femmes et des hommes de 15-49 ans sont séropositifs.

S’agissant du paludisme, le taux de prévalence est passé de 40% en 2004 à 15% en 2005, soit un recul de 25 points. Cette tendance baissière ne doit pas cacher les spécificités de certaines régions comme le Littoral (50% à 21%), l’Ouest (44,5% à 28%), et le Sud (31,1% à 21%). Ces spécificités s’expliquent entre autres par la promiscuité et l’insalubrité. La lutte contre le paludisme et les autres maladies ont connu des difficultés dans la mise en œuvre de la campagne de distribution des moustiquaires imprégnés et du programme élargi de vaccination.

Si la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA, le paludisme et les autres maladies semble afficher des progrès substantiels, il reste que l’atteinte de l’objectif invite à plus d’efforts, notamment dans la sensibilisation pour la prévention par l’abstinence et l’utilisation des préservatifs dans les zones où le tabou sur le fléau est encore présent et l’amélioration de l’offre des soins. Pour ce qui est du paludisme, une meilleure gestion des ressources pour la promotion et la distribution des moustiquaires imprégnés et surtout le renforcement des campagnes de salubrité sont à redoubler.

OMD 7 : Assurer un environnement durable

Malgré l'augmentation des aires protégées pour préserver l'environnement (13% en 2000 contre 18,8% en 2008), l'objectif que la proportion de la population utilisant les combustibles solides atteigne environ 42,2% ne serait vraisemblablement pas atteint. En effet, il s'est stabilisé autour de 82%. En matière d'accès à l'eau potable, la proportion de la population ayant accès à l'eau potable passe de 40,6% en 2001 à 43,9% en 2007, soit un peu plus de la moitié de la cible (72,1%) à atteindre en 2015. La situation d’un cadre de vie décent n’est guère favorable, même si elle est passée de 8,5% en 2001 à 31,7% en 2007 pour une habitation à matériaux définitifs.

Des efforts considérables sont à faire pour une intégration des programmes de développement durable dans les politiques, afin de faciliter la mise en place des programmes de partenariat avec les institutions d’une part et en faire profiter aux populations d’autre part .

OMD 8 : Mettre en place un partenariat mondial pour le développement

Le partenariat à mettre en œuvre vise, notamment la maîtrise et la réduction du taux de chômage des jeunes, surtout dans les centres urbains, la mise à la disposition des couches les plus défavorisées des médicaments essentiels dont elles ont besoin, la vulgarisation de l'utilisation des technologies de l'information et de communication. Les résultats enregistrés montrent que le chômage des jeunes a baissé entre 2001 et 2007, passant de 14,3% à 8,2%.

Sur le plan institutionnel, des réformes ont permis tant bien que mal au gouvernement de remplir quelques conditions pour un partenariat plus efficace, permettant au pays de bénéficier de la réduction de la dette multilatérale après le point d’achèvement en 2006. Ceci a permis une réactivation du service de la dette extérieure vis-à-vis des partenaires créanciers du Cameroun.

Cependant il reste que des efforts sont encore  à faire sur des questions transversales telles que : la gouvernance, l’efficacité du service public, la collecte et le traitement des statistiques, etc.

Recommandations :

Le rapport relève que les cibles nationales des OMD au Cameroun, sont loin d’être atteintes d’ici à 2015. Nous recommandons des efforts soient dans le sens de :

  • La transparence dans la gestion des ressources publiques. La réduction de la pauvreté et de la faim passe par une efficacité dans la gestion des ressources pour l’amélioration des infrastructures, notamment dans le domaine de l’énergie, en vue d’une amélioration de l’environnement des affaires.
  • L’amélioration de la qualité du système éducatif. Celle-ci invite à l’amélioration des infrastructures et celles des conditions des enseignants pour plus de stabilité et de rendements de ceux-ci dans les établissements.
  • La fourniture en quantité de l’énergie qui va renforcer le programme élargi de vaccination et la réduction des maladies de l’enfant. S’agissant de la santé maternelle, une meilleure prise en charge de la mère et un contrôle de transmission du VIH/SIDA de la mère à l’enfant réduire considérablement le taux de mortalité maternelle.
  • L’introduction des programmes de développement durable, notamment par une bonne législation foncière et l’introduction des normes de gestion environnementale dans la stratégie de la croissance.


INS, Enquête Démographique et de Santé  et à indicateurs multiples, 2011.

BAD,  Evaluation des progrès accomplis en Afrique pour la réalisation des  Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement. Rapport OMD 2011

MINEPAT, Rapport du suivi des OMD par régions, septembre 2010

MINEPAT/PNUD, Rapport national de progrès des OMD,  2010.

UNICEF, Education de base, Cameroun, Fiche de synthèse, 2009.

MINEPAT/PNUD, Rapport national sur le Développement Humain 2008/2009, le défi de la réalisation des OMD au Cameroun,

Kamdem Kamdem Maxime, L’apport de l’énergie dans l’atteinte des OMD.

Liste des abréviations

BAD : Banque Africaine de Développement

CRADEC : Centre Régional Africain pour le Développement endogène et Communautaire

DC : Dynamique citoyenne

DSCE : Document de stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi

DSRP : Document de Stratégie pour la Réduction de la Pauvreté

EDS : Enquête Démographique et de Santé

INS : Institut National de la Statistique

MINEPAT : Ministère de l’Economie, de la Planification et de l’Aménagement du Territoire

OMD : Objectif du Millénaire pour le Développement

PEV : Programme Elargi de Vaccination

PIB : Produit Intérieur Brut

PNUD : Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement

ZEP : Zone d’Education Prioritaire

Notes :

[1] 2009-Education de base, Cameroun, Fiche de synthèse UNICEF.

[2] Enquête Démographique et de Santé  et à indicateurs multiples, 2011, INS.

[3] Des études d’impact environnemental ont été à l’origine des retards de certains projets de grande envergure au Cameroun.


Lifelong learning and the post-MDGs agenda

The main problem with the MDGs, globally, is that the overall approach towards development they represent is quite narrow, limiting countries’ incentives to institute structural changes that would foster development. This is particularly evident in the case of Goal 2: ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education,’ which excludes economically active people in developing countries who are in need of further education, re-skilling or vocational training. Using the case of Cyprus, we can examine how the Lifelong Learning strategy it adopted made the link between LLL and sustainable development, and ask whether the Cyprus model provides a potential model for developing countries in the post-MDG agenda.

Centre for the Advancement of Research & Development in Educational Technology (CARDET)
Sotiris Themistokleous (Assistant Director)
Chrysovalanti Charalambous
Charalambos Vrasidas

The main problem with the MDGs, globally, is that the overall approach towards development they represent is quite narrow, limiting countries’ incentives to institute structural changes that would foster development. This is particularly evident in the case of Goal 2: ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education,’ which excludes economically active people in developing countries who are in need of further education, re-skilling or vocational training. Using the case of Cyprus, we can examine how the Lifelong Learning strategy it adopted made the link between LLL and sustainable development, and ask whether the Cyprus model provides a potential model for developing countries in the post-MDG agenda.

It is evident by now that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched in 2000 are facing many challenges in terms of implementation, as well as limitations in mobilizing universal support. The eight goals that United Nations (UN) identified as the most critical objectives to be attained by 2015, range from the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger to provision of universal primary education.

The main problem with the MDGs, globally, is that the overall approach towards development they represent is quite narrow, limiting countries’ incentives to institute structural changes that would foster development. This is particularly evident in the case of Goal 2: ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education’. It can be argued that this specific goal is restrictive for large sections of the population, excluding people in developing countries who are of economically productive age and who are in need of further education, re-skilling or vocational training. These persons could be immensely benefited by an all-embracing approach towards education aiming at developing a Lifelong Learning (LLL) and knowledge-based society. Using the case of Cyprus, we can examine how the Lifelong Learning strategy it adopted was able to make the link between LLL and sustainable development, and ask whether the Cyprus model provides a potential model for developing countries in the post-MDG agenda.

Lifelong Learning and development

As a concept, LLL is relevant to all educational and skills levels as well as all phases of life. The concept, and the aspirations that derive from it, posits that citizens are endowed with tools that allow their personal development, as well as social integration and contribution to the knowledge economy. It is evident that knowledge constitutes an effective tool in the efforts to build a sustainable future, in social, economic and political terms. Especially for developing countries, investment in education constitutes one of the main tools in the fight against poverty. Therefore the notion of knowledge societies should not be restricted only to the developed North but should also be extended to the developing South. Despite the fact that for many developing countries basic education is a priority, adult education as well as LLL should also be prioritized since they both have been identified as very important conditions for development.

Lifelong Learning in Cyprus

In recent years the Republic of Cyprus has emphasized the value of LLL through the implementation of various initiatives designed to boost access to the programmes offered through LLL. The support for LLL in Cyprus can be seen by looking at the percentage of the people who participated in LLL education and training, which has increased by 1.6% in a period of six years, reaching 7.5% in 2011. This improvement can be attributed to the implementation of the Lifelong Learning Strategy for Cyprus, 2007-2013.

Broadly, the goal of the Lifelong Learning Strategy for Cyprus is to support formal, non-formal and informal education as well as training for all citizens, throughout their lifetimes, as an imperative contribution to their individual success and completion, and their ability to adjust to ongoing changes. Essentially, these changes derive from the rapid substitution of new knowledge and technology for existing forms, ongoing demographic transformations, as well as the need for the acquisition of new skills for new jobs. It is imperative to stress at this point, the value of LLL especially in the rapidly changing environment that we all live in today. LLL has become a vital determinant of people’s prospects to work, integrate, and flourish in society as well as an essential factor in the country’s potential for social as well as economic sustainability and development in a time of global financial and social crisis. The importance of LLL for Cyprus and its connection to sustainable development is also highlighted in the Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development (2011-2015), where it is also stressed that LLL is a vital instrument to foster and sustain development.

LLL for Cyprus follows the European Union (EU) vision, based on which lifelong learning constitutes a process that includes every learning person’s activity during his/her lifetime, and which aims at strengthening their competence to face the challenges that can arise in the market and the society. Thus based on these premises, Cyprus aims to establish a system which guarantees that everyone will have the motivation, support, and the resources to participate in training activities throughout their lives, with the objective of creating a society in which every citizen will be socially and economically active and contribute to the overall development process of the country.

It is important at this point to specify, that Cyprus in its National Lifelong Learning Strategy 2007-2013 addresses the EU recommendations for specific key LLL competences. These recommendations constitute a reference instrument for Cyprus to guarantee their full integration into the strategies as well as the infrastructures of the country in regards to LLL. There are many opportunities for LLL in Cyprus that go hand in hand with the specific key competences specified by the EU and which can nurture development and sustainability within Cyprus and constitute a path to be followed by developing countries.

As an illustration, Cyprus in its LLL Strategy 2007-2013 as well as in its Digital Strategy 2012-2020, places considerable importance on issues such as digital competence which entails the acquisition of basic skills as far as Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are concerned. Furthermore, the integration and use of ICT in every critical sector of the country’s economy such as education, health, tourism, transport and more generally in the exercise of every business activity, is considered immensely important to the development of the country into a regional service centre, with the potential to attract foreign investment. The use of ICT constitutes a medium through which productivity and economic growth can be boosted. For instance, the digital strategy promotes themes such as digital entrepreneurship which essentially means the use of ICT by businesses for increasing their productivity and for boosting their competitiveness in relation to the domestic as well as the international market. In addition, the use of ICT has also a direct effect on the increase of GDP, the improvement of productivity, the enhancement of transparency and the endorsement of democracy. Moreover, through the use of ICT in the field of public administration, the government will become smart, sustainable, innovative, and more efficient. When public services are provided electronically, there will be a decrease in the bureaucracy, which will benefit citizens and businesses, and there will be a reduction in business’s cost as well. Through the use of ICT the realization of a smart, sustainable as well as inclusive economy and society can be facilitated not only for Cyprus but for every society that implements a similar agenda.

Among other issues, financial and environmental education as well as social and civic education, are highlighted through LLL. Social competence includes personal, interpersonal, as well as intercultural skills that provide individuals with the knowledge necessary to take part effectively and constructively in social and working life. Furthermore, through civic competence and the knowledge of social and political ideas and structures, such as democracy, equality and citizenship, individuals are provided with information that can potentially allow them to actively participate in democratic processes. Thus through the acquisition of civil and social competences, as well as of ICT skills, citizens will be able to have better access to information and actively participate in civil society.

Nevertheless it should be noted here that more things should be done, so as to promote the LLL Strategy 2007-2013, as well as the Digital Strategy for Cyprus 2012-2020. Even though there is a basic infrastructure for the promotion of the ideals presented in both strategies, there is a need to infuse a learning culture in the society which will promote access both to digital mediums and LLL opportunities.

LLL opportunities in Cyprus and the engagement of civil society

As stated, Cyprus’ vision for LLL aims at improving the competences of every learning person throughout their lifetimes. Therefore it should be noted at this point that there are several opportunities for people in Cyprus to take part in LLL activities, since there is a wide LLL system which covers individuals of different ages, and comprises formal, non-formal and informal learning. The Ministry of Education and Culture, the Human Resource Development Authority, the Cyprus Productivity Centre as well as other organizations, offer several opportunities for people that are interested in participating in LLL activities. Even though the results of the country’s performance are encouraging in terms of LLL participation, it should be noted that more stakeholders should be involved. It would be encouraging to see more partnerships at the level of public administration not only at national but also at regional or local level; partnerships among suppliers of educational services, as well as at the civil society level which means between social partners, businesses, local associations, and the local community.

Cyprus has extensive knowledge and experience in the provision of public as well as private education, which has been essential to its economic and social development in the past 20 years. This accrued experience as well as the technical capacity which has been enormously developed over the years should be disseminated. The introduction of local civil society in the National Development Policies could constitute an immense development for both the Republic of Cyprus and local CSOs, given that there is still mistrust by the public authorities towards the CSOs’ expertise and experiences in the area of development. Furthermore, it would be beneficial for the Republic of Cyprus to broaden the public dialogue and invite civil society to present its proposals and have a more active role in drafting and formulating policies for development. Civil society constitutes an important actor as far as development is concerned and a valuable medium for education and training services. International civil societies as well as CSOs also have the potential to become a medium for solidarity and social justice. It is important to note at this point that Cypriot CSOs have direct involvement and experiences in fields such as civic education, digital literacy and social justice, among others.

MDGs Critical Assessment and Post-MDGs Agenda

One of the problems with the MDGs is that they failed to account for disparities in initial conditions; another is that they represent an agenda rather than a strategy for development. For instance, the MDG agenda does not present an overview of the structural causes of issues such as poverty and social exclusion, nor with respect to the strategies as well as policy actions essential to tackle those issues. Thus, the emphasis placed on “outcomes”, rather than on the actual “processes” that lead to development is perceived by many people as the main weakness in relation to the effectiveness of this approach. Furthermore, in some cases, the overemphasis of MDG 2 on primary education has had a negative effect on secondary as well as post-secondary education, a fact that consequently has significant implications for economic growth and development. Such a limited target for MDG 2 essentially excludes a vast portion of the population which are in a work/labour productive age/condition and could potentially set the foundations for development in a more timely and effective manner.

It is therefore for all of these reasons that we propose that LLL should be one of the core pillars of international efforts for development in the Post-MDGs era. It is obvious that LLL is an element which is missing from the MDG agenda and it is something which could immensely contribute to growth and gradual development of developing countries. Through its own LLL strategy Cyprus can aid developing countries, especially through partnerships with civil society organizations that have extensive experience in social and service sectors, such as education, healthcare and tourism. Cyprus can export its own model of LLL, which encourages learning in every stage of the individual’s life, and through this approach, local communities in developing countries can acquire the necessary skills as well as the necessary motivation to engage in this learning process which ultimately will trigger the development cycle. Furthermore, the empowerment of local societies which is a prerequisite for development will be further aided through the export of LLL to these countries through the contribution of government departments as well as civil society organizations that can constitute a major player in the development process and in the effective allocation of aid and education related services.


United Nations, “We Can End Poverty 2015: A Gateway to the UN System’s Work on the MDGs,” New York. Available at: <http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/bkgd.shtml> (accessed 29 November 2012).

Europa, “Lifelong learning.” Available at: <http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/education_training_youth/lifelong_learning/index_en.htm> (accessed 4 December 2012).

UNESCO, Towards Knowledge Societies,Paris, 2005. Available at: <http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001418/141843e.pdf> (accessed 4 December 2012).

Government of Cyprus, Ministry of Education and Culture, Interim Report on the Implementation of the Strategic framework for European cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020), Nicosia, 2011. Available at: <http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/doc/natreport11/cyprus_en.pdf> (accessed 29 November 2012).

Eurostat, “Life-long learning Statistics”, 3 October, 2013. Available at: <http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tsdsc440&plugin=1>, (accessed 4 December 2012).

Ministry of Education and Culture, 2011.

Government of Cyprus, Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Revised National Strategy for Sustainable Development, Nicosia, 2010. Available at: <http://www.moa.gov.cy/moa/environment/environment.nsf/69E3B0E74C4A5110C225793C002CD199/$file/NSDS_revised.pdf> (accessed 29 November 2012).

Planning Bureau Cyprus, National Lifelong Learning Strategy 2007-2013 in the Republic of Cyprus – Summary Text, Nicosia, 2008.

Ibid.; Government of Cyprus, Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Electronic Communications, Digital Strategy for Cyprus, Nicosia, 2012. Available at: <http://www.mcw.gov.cy/mcw/dec/dec.nsf/all/0BACA0B7B7848D2CC22579B500299BFA/$file/Digital%20Strategy%20for%20Cyprus-Executive%20summary.pdf?openelement> (accessed 4 December 2012).

Europa, “Key competences for lifelong learning.” Available at: <http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/education_training_youth/lifelong_learning/c11090_en.htm> (accessed 5 December 2012).

Planning Bureau Cyprus, 2008.

Europa, “European area of lifelong learning.” Available at: <http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/education_training_youth/lifelong_learning/c11054_en.htm>, (accessed 4 December 2012).

Reinhart Kössler and Henning Melber, “International civil society and the challenge for global solidarity,” Development Dialogue, 2007. Available at:<http://www.dhf.uu.se/pdffiler/DD2007_49_civ_soc/development_dialogue_49_art_2.pdf> (accessed 4 December 2012).

UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, Review of the Contributions of the MDG Agenda to foster development: Lessons for the post-2015 UN Development Agenda, New York, 2012. Available at: <http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/mdg_assessment_Aug.pdf> (accessed 4 December 2012).


Living cutbacks

Canada’s economic policy continues to take reduction of the debt and deficit as its primary end. The means to this end include cuts to social infrastructure spending, public sector employment and the health and welfare institutions that used to put Canada near the top of most international measures of well-being. Under cover of deficit reduction, the Government of Canada continues to withdraw funding from the civil society organizations and research institutions that measure the effectiveness of those government policies and provide alternatives to them. On the international stage, Canada has championed austerity measures for countries facing economic crisis, Canadian foreign aid has been in decline while the Government's criticism of multi-lateral institutions for international cooperation increases.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

The federal government of Canada continues to prioritize deficit reduction at all costs. Federal program spending as a share of the economy is at its lowest level since the 1950s and the lowest of any national government in the industrial world. Cuts to federal-provincial health, social, and equalization transfers alone will amount to $60 billion over the next decade. The result has been a reduction to health and social services for Canadians at the time when they need them most—during Canada’s slow recovery from recession.

The impact of the government’s austerity measures are beginning to become evident in rising inequality. While inequality in Canada may be less extreme than in the U.S., it is growing at a faster rate in Canada. By 2011, the average after-tax income of the richest 10% of non-elderly households was 21 times that of the average incomes of the poorest 10%, higher than at any point on record since 1976.

Income inequality in Canada is also highly racialized and gendered. Women, Aboriginal peoples, new immigrants, people with disabilities and racialized communities all carry a disproportionate burden of lower incomes and lower employment rates. For example, employment rates for working age Aboriginal men are 15% lower than for their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Aboriginal women’s employment rates are 5% lower yet. For every dollar earned by white Canadians, racialized Canadian workers earned only 81.4 cents. For every dollar earned by men in Canada, women earn 76.7 cents (working full-year, full-time).

Social assistance rates for Canadians living below the poverty line have remained virtually unchanged across most of Canada. Most social assistance incomes in Canada remain well below the low income measure (LIM). Poverty as measured by the LIM was 12.6% across Canada in 2011, slightly higher than before the recession. While poverty has modestly declined in recent years for children, likely reflecting some success of provincial poverty reduction plans, this measure captures a disturbing re-emergence of poverty among seniors.

The National Council of Welfare, now itself defunct as a result of federal funding cuts, has demonstrated that investing in programs aimed at eliminating or alleviating poverty “costs less than allowing it to persist.” They point out that “the money it would have taken to bring everyone just over the poverty line—was $12.3 billion [in 2007]. The total cost of poverty that year was double or more using the most cautious estimates.”

As individual Canadians struggle under austerity measures, corporate Canada is flush with cash, hoarding a new high in 2013 of $572 billion, an amount that is equivalent to 92% of the entire federal government debt. In other words, corporate Canada’s cash holdings could pay off all but 8% of the federal debt. Despite already strong balance sheets, Canadian corporations continue to pad their bank accounts instead of investing in Canada’s economy, socking away an additional $38 billion dollars more than they had at this time last year.

At the same time the federal government continues to make minimal investments in addressing a problem that is currently costing Canada’s economy over $9 billion dollars a year: violence against women and girls. Status of Women Canada, the government body tasked with addressing violence, spent just over $14 million in 2011-2012—a wholly inadequate response to a problem that directly affects an estimated one in six Canadians.

The federal government has consistently refused to institute an inquiry into the persistently high levels of violence experienced by Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. A recent report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reveals that nearly 1200 Aboriginal women and girls have been murdered or gone missing over the past thirty years. The level of violence experienced by Aboriginal women and girls in Canada has been condemned internationally and spurred visits by two United Nations expert bodies in the past year.

At the same time, Canada has become increasingly critical of the United Nations, particularly its human rights monitoring mechanisms.  The visit of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to Canada in May 2012 was described by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration as “completely ridiculous.” The Special Rapporteur was told that he should not get involved in “political exercises in developed democracies like Canada.” This characterization of UN special mechanisms and monitoring bodies is not unique.

Canada accused the Committee Against Torture of engaging in “bureaucratic mission creep” when it posed questions about violence against women and human trafficking. When the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples expressed concern about conditions in the First Nations’ community of Attawapiskat, where the Red Cross had intervened to provide adequate shelter, food and water, the office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development characterized that statement as a “publicity stunt.” Yet by the government’s own account, 89 First Nation’s communities are without safe drinking water. A 2011 evaluation of on-reserve housing concluded: “despite ongoing construction of new housing on-reserve, the shortfall still exists and appears to be growing rather than diminishing.”

Canada’s record on environmental sustainability earned it the ‘fossil of the year’ award from environmental organizations and criticism from other state governments during the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change. Since Copenhagen, Canada has actually lowered its emissions targets for 2020. Domestically, greenhouse gas emissions are rising. Those living in northern Canada have seen significant impacts on their environment and their well-being. According to a 2011 report by the Pembina Institute: “Canada’s Arctic has already experienced a warming of more than 1.7°C and an increase of 4 or 5°C is projected.” Inuit communities report the decline in access to their traditional sources of food and an overall degradation of their environment and well-being. This degradation is further exacerbated in northern and rural regions of Canada by the mining and extractive industries.

Canada’s mining industry has a strong presence internationally as well as domestically. Canadian-based companies make up over 40% of the world’s extractive industry. Although Canadian civil society is playing a leading role in monitoring the industry through initiatives such as Publish What You Pay, the Kimberly Process and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Regional Certification Mechanism for conflict minerals, Canada has not yet agreed to adopt a system of regulation similar to the U.S. Dodd-Frank Act or to comply with the guidelines set by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

On the international stage, Canada’s rate of international assistance is set to decline for the next three years: “between fiscal year 2011/12 and fiscal year 2014/15, the International Assistance Envelope for Canadian aid is set to decrease by 7.6%, from $5 billion in 2011 to $4.66 billion in 2014/15. Between 2011/2012 and 2015/16, when the time period to reach the MDGs will have elapsed, Canada will have reduced Canadian ODA by close to $1.2 billion.” According to the Canadian Centre for International Cooperation, these cuts will bring Canada’s level of ODA from “0.34% of Gross National Income (GNI) in 2010 to 0.25% of GNI by 2014/15,” well below the global target of .7%.

The Canadian Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (2008) requires that Canadian development assistance “contribut[e] to poverty reduction, tak[e] into account the perspectives of the poor and [be] consistent with international human rights standards.” Many civil society organizations see the Act as a very promising mechanism for integrating human rights concerns into international development policy and programming. However, a report from the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, a civil society coalition, suggests that there has been little or no implementation of the Act by the Government.

The economic crisis has pushed civil society to renew its engagement with economic policy debates. Governmental and non-governmental actors alike are grappling with the question of how to achieve their goals within a constrained fiscal environment. But the question of how best to stimulate economic growth and ensure economic stability is a question of means, not ends. Ultimately, the focus must remain on the society being built by that growth. Just as social justice organizations have had to grapple with the economic implications of their goals, those responsible for economic policy must face the human and environmental cost of their choices.


The Alternative Federal Budget 2014: Striking a Better Balance. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2014

“World Income Inequality: Is The World Becoming More Unequal?” Conference Board of Canada. 2011. Online at: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/files/hcp/pdfs/hot-topics/worldinequality.pdf

Custom tabulated data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Block, S., and Grace-Edward, G. (2011). Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market: The Gap for Racialized Workers. Ottawa: CCPA and Wellesley Institute.

“CAN SIM Table 202-0102: Average female and male earnings, and female-to-male earnings ratio, by work activity, 2011 constant dollars.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

“CAN-SIM Table 202-0802: Persons in Low Income Families, Annual.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty. Ottawa: National Council of Welfare, 2011.

The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty. Ottawa: National Council of Welfare, 2011.

“CAN-SIM Table 378-0121: National Balance Sheet Accounts.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

“CAN-SIM Table 378-0121: National Balance Sheet Accounts.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

McInturff, Kate (2013). The Gap in the Gender Gap: Violence Against Women in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/gap-gender-gap

  Mahony, Tina Hotton (2011). “Women and the Criminal Justice System.” Women in Canada: A Gender-Based Statistical Report. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview. Ottawa: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2014. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/mmaw-faapd-eng.pdf

  Scoffield, Heather. “Ottawa shrugs off UN warning on hunger and nutrition.” Globe and Mail, May 16 2012.

“Presentation of Canada’s Sixth Report to the Committee Against Torture.” (Ottawa: Government of Canada, May 21, 2012).

“Attawapiskat a 'deep concern' for UN rights official.” CBC News, Dec 20, 2011.

First Nations and Inuit Health: Drinking Water and Waste Water. Health Canada. Online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/promotion/public-publique/water-eau-eng.php#s2d

Evaluation Performance Measurement and Review Branch Audit and Evaluation Sector (2011). Evaluation of INAC’s On-Reserve Housing Support. Ottawa: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Environment Canada, “Canada Lists Emissions Target Under the Copenhagen Accord,” (Environment Canada, February 1, 2010).  http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=EAF552A3-D287-4AC0-ACB8-A6FEA697ACD6

Morgan, Alexis (2011).Canadian Index of Well-being Environment Report. Canadian Index of Well Being. http://ciw.ca/Libraries/Documents/Environment_Full_Report_EN.sflb.ashx

Nickels S. et al, Unikkaaqatigiit – Putting the Human Face on Climate Change: Perspectives from Inuit in Canada. (Joint publication of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments at Université Laval and the Ajunnginiq Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization, 2005).

Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 2009. http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/ds/c...

“International Development.” Alternative Federal Budget 2014. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2014

“International Development.” Alternative Federal Budget 2014. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2014

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act.  Minister of Justice, 2008. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/O-2.8/index.html

A Time to Act – Implementing the ODA Accountability Act: A Canadian CSO Agenda for Aid Reform. Ottawa: Canadian Council for International Co-operation, 2010.


Long-run policies towards social and economic development

Despite that the poverty level in Azerbaijan decreased by 1.5 % and amounted to 7.6 % in 2011, share of poorest quintile in national income also diminished. Most recently several projects (among them, “State Programme of Socio-Economic Development of the Regions of Azerbaijan (2009-2013)”, “State Programme of Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development of the Republic of the Azerbaijan”, “State Programme of Ensuring Reliable Population in the Republic of Azerbaijan in food provision”) were launched, the main priority is social and human development.

Kenan Aslanli

Long-run policies towards social and economic development should have the following three objectives :

  1. To increase the availability and widen the distribution of basic life-sustaining goods such as food, shelter, health and protection;
  2. To raise levels of living, including, in addition to higher incomes, the provision of more jobs, better education, and greater attention to cultural and human values, all of which will serve not only to enhance material well-being but also to generate greater individual and national self-esteem;
  3. To expand the range of economic and social choices available to individuals and nations by freeing them from servitude and dependence not only in relations to other people and nation-states but also to the forces of ignorance and human misery.

In September 2000, the 189 member countries of the United States at that time adopted 8 “Millennium Development Goals” (MDG) in order to commit themselves to making substantial progress toward the eradication of poverty and achieving other human development goals by 2015. All transition economies have identified poverty as a major development problem. Millennium Development Goals (MDG) was promising tool to solve this problem. Emanating from the Millennium Declaration, the eight Millennium Development Goals bind countries to do more and join efforts in the fight against poverty, illiteracy, hunger, lack of education, gender inequality, child and maternal mortality, disease and environmental degradation.

The Goals offer the world a means to accelerate the pace of development and measure results. But during last decade governments of resource-rich transitional countries including Azerbaijan could make only limited progress towards achieving the MDG. Azerbaijani government tried to meet all of its commitments under the Millennium Development Goals that run until 2015, though 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory is occupied by neighboring Armenia and there are up to a million Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs. Despite that the poverty level in Azerbaijan decreased by 1.5 % and amounted to 7.6 % in 2011, share of poorest quintile in national income also diminished .






Population below national poverty line (%)





Share of poorest quintile in national income or consumption (%)





Source: www.azsta t.org

Most recently, “State Programme of Socio-Economic Development of the Regions of Azerbaijan (2009-2013)”, “State Programme of Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development of the Republic of the Azerbaijan”, “State Programme of Ensuring Reliable Population in the Republic of Azerbaijan in food provision” (2008-2015) and other projects were launched . One of the leading priorities in these programmes was social and human development. Efforts were being made in the country to reduce maternal and child mortality rates. Due to official statistics the rate of child mortality has decreased three-fold and that of maternal deaths halved in the past five years, but still Azerbaijan lags behind many neighboring countries including resource-poor Georgia and Armenia.

The government is also working to deter the spread of the HIV virus in the country and is placing an emphasis on environmental protection. Also revenues from the oil sector could be allowed financing projects required to reach those aims by 2015. But interestingly that even in Azerbaijan receiving large revenues from oil, there wasn’t rapid increase in public funding for the social sector. The Government rather prefers to accumulate the surplus in the special oil fund and plan to use it to push forward big infrastructure projects. According to calculations of the experts of the National Budget Group (civil alliance for public finance monitoring), if to take 2013 budget of Azerbaijan in the equivalent of 100 USD, then out of every 100 USD, 45.80 USD will be spent for capital investments to main foundations, 14.20 for labor remuneration, 11.40 USD for other expenditures, only 8.80 USD for pensions and social benefits, 1.60 USD for subsidies and transfers, 1.50 USD for procurement of food products, 0.90 USD for medicines, winding accessories and materials . Anyway, under such general resource ceiling and current spending pattern, public funding for education, health, and environment may not be sufficient in order to achieve MDGs.

Source: World Bank Metadata, author’s calculation

Azerbaijan government strengthens the tendency of earlier years for next year as well, and considers state administration and law-enforcement system as a higher priority than social sector for providing budget support. Even if the necessity has been reiterated on official level for long years, the government does not make any changes in 2013 for transit to student-financing in secondary education and application of compulsory medical insurance system in the health sector. It is crucial to define optimal level of the share of education and health expenditures in the state budget, and to keep the same level during forecasts of budget expenditures for next years.

Social policy achievements and challenges

Regarding to World Bank’s country report, higher wages over the last decade are likely to have contributed to poverty reduction, although more research is needed to assess the size of the impact and whether increases larger than the rise of the average wage may have slowed job creation. Minimum wages were last increased by 10 % from January 2012 to the equivalent of $118 a month. Social transfers, including a well targeted social assistance program, have also contributed to declining official poverty rate. Job growth seems to have plateaued. According to official statistics, employment rose 1.1 % in 2011, about the same as in 2010 (and in the 2000s on average). Anecdotal evidence suggests that most of the gross employment is created in construction, a sector that is highly dependent on public spending. Brisk non-oil GDP growth and sharp increases in public spending do not appear to be accelerating the pace of job creation.

The oil sector is unlikely to generate enough employment for Azerbaijan’s young and growing population. Further progress on diversification towards sectors with higher growth elasticity of employment would help foster a more dynamic labor market and create new jobs, especially if the impressive gains in poverty reduction are to be preserved. Agriculture and services remain the major employers in the economy, together accounting for more than 85 % of total employment. Mining-including oil and natural gas production - accounts for less than 1 % of employment but almost half of GDP. Lower job creation is accompanied by a sharp drop in labor force participation and in the unemployment rate. The labor force participation rate fell from 96.5 % in 2000 to 78 % in 2011, reflecting decisions to drop out of the job market. Since these people are not part of the labor force, they do not count as unemployed. The unemployment rate has also declined steadily over the same period, falling to 5.4 % by the end of 2011, apparently largely driven by the fall in labor participation .

Deep structural reforms will be crucial to develop a competitive private sector led non-oil economy able to foster exports, create jobs, and sustain diversification. Another major area of improvement was the targeting of social benefits. As a result of a 2008 reform, social benefits are now given only to poor families and not to all as was previously the case. General pension levels still remain low in country.

IDP vulnerability as a constraint in social policies

Azerbaijan has one of the highest concentrations of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) per capita in the world. Most of these IDPs were forcibly displaced in the years 1988-94 during conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The IDPs were settled into new locations in Azerbaijan. IDPs are a vulnerable group whose impoverishment in the immediate aftermath of their forced movement was an economic shock that has been hard to overcome, especially since they lost access to significant assets.

They have had to adapt to a new context, but still suffer from loss and trauma. IDPs are particularly vulnerable in a range of areas: they are more likely to be poor, suffer worse living conditions, and display lower employment rates and higher work inactivity rates than the non-displaced. Poverty rates among IDPs are 25.0 % compared to 20.1 % among the non-displaced. 42.5 % of IDPs live in one-room accommodations compared to only 9.1 % of non IDPs. IDP families have an average of 36 square meters of living space compared to 74 square meters for local families.

In spite of all taken measures by State Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Deals of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, the humanitarian and social condition of refugees and IDPs is still complicated. At present 87631 refugees live in hostels, more than 25550 of them live in camps, 28 thousand are in Finnish type houses, and the rest live in state buildings, incomplete buildings, sanatoriums, boarding houses and in other places under insufferable circumstances, which do not meet sanitary norms . Rates of access to electricity, hot water, and bathrooms are worse among the displaced than non-displaced. Employment rates among IDPs are 40.1 % compared to 57.4 among the non-displaced. Work inactivity rates among IDPs are 54.3 % compared to 36.2 % among the non-displaced.

According to the World Bank’s report, there is also a widespread sense of social marginalization and hopelessness among the IDP population. They express despondency and anxiety, likely a result of their uncertain situation. This feeling is combined with a dependency syndrome and expectations that the solution to all their difficulties lies with the actions of government. The links between ill health and poverty are more pronounced for IDPs than for non-IDPs - the poverty rates for those re­porting as being in poor health are 30.7 % among IDPs and 19.7% for non-IDPs. Calculated using the global standard used by the World Bank for assessing a poverty line, which involves calculating the amount required to sustain an intake of 2,267 calories per day. In Azerbaijan, this is estimated to require a per capita monthly consumption of USD 60. Use of this methodology results in a slightly different poverty level among IDPs than Government of Azerbaijan statistics, which puts the poverty rate among IDPs at 23% . IDPs and refugees still receive free education, free electricity and gas, and monthly food allowances .


Michael P.Todaro, Stephen C.Smith, “Economic Development”, 11th edition, 2012.

Summary of the National Budget Group (NBG) 2013 state budget review (http://www.nbg.az).

“Azerbaijan: switching the drivers of growth”, World Bank, Azerbaijan regular economic report, no. 1, 2012.

World Bank Report No: AAA64 – AZ, “Building Assets and Promoting Self Reliance: The Livelihoods of Internally Displaced Persons in Azerbaijan”, October 2011.

Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2012, Azerbaijan Country Report.


L’aide publique en temps de crises : se replier ou coopérer ?

La coopération internationale est en péril. En Europe, qui reste malgré tout le premier donateur mondial, les montants de l’aide publique au développement (APD) ont baissé pour la première fois depuis 2007 . La Belgique ne fait pas exception. En temps de crises, la tendance est à la restriction budgétaire, au recul. Le spectre de la pauvreté plane sur les européens également. Les fermetures d’entreprises et la remise en cause des acquis de l’État-providence sont autant d’arguments pour dire combien les temps sont difficiles. La coopération au développement doit être redéfinie, en tenant compte aussi de la place qu’occupent les pays émergents dans les débats globaux, leur forte croissance économique et leur présence accrue sur le terrain de la coopération.

Par Oumou Zé, Chargée de recherche au CNCD 11.11.11

La coopération internationale est en péril. En Europe, qui reste malgré tout le premier donateur mondial, les montants de l’aide publique au développement (APD) ont baissé pour la première fois depuis 2007[1]. La Belgique ne fait pas exception. En temps de crises, la tendance est à la restriction budgétaire, au recul. Le spectre de la pauvreté plane sur les européens également. Les fermetures d’entreprises et la remise en cause des acquis de l’État-providence sont autant d’arguments pour dire combien les temps sont difficiles. La coopération au développement doit être redéfinie, en tenant compte aussi de la place qu’occupent les pays émergents dans les débats globaux, leur forte croissance économique et leur présence accrue sur le terrain de la coopération.

Dans un contexte des relations internationales en profonde mutation, les défis globaux s’accentuent et les crises locales s’approfondissent. Ces dernières années, à l'échelle mondiale, l’effort politique et l’implication financière pour la coopération au développement ont été mis sous pression. La coopération au développement belge est soumise aux arbitrages internes au gouvernement, dans une ambiance d’austérité. « Aider nos pauvres d’abord », la formule jusqu’alors si peu politiquement correcte, commence à se décomplexer, pendant que l’ambiance est à la peur et le sentiment d’insécurité est renforcé.

Du point de vue politique, le dialogue international est difficile. Les dernières rencontres et sommets internationaux ont peiné à aboutir sur des accords ou engagements mutuels. Que ce soit pour le commerce, le climat, l’aide ou le développement durable, l’entente est difficile, et l’échec des négociations quasi-systématique. Dès lors, le plus grand défi posé à la communauté internationale en proie aux crises multiples, sera de démontrer sa capacité à poursuivre le dialogue et la coopération. La capacité à ne pas céder aux tentations de repli.

La coopération et la logique de la lutte contre la pauvreté

Analyser la coopération au développement, ses politiques et ses instruments c’est un travail continu sur les moyens mis à dispositions par un pays, en vue d’atteindre des objectifs de développement déterminés. Au-delà des moyens, financements et modalités, la société civile doit pouvoir jouer son rôle de veille et d’interpellation, en questionnant les visions et les objectifs qui façonnent les politiques de coopération.

La Belgique, comme bon nombre de pays donateurs du Comité d’Aide de l’OCDE (CAD), inscrit son action de coopération au développement dans une logique de lutte contre la pauvreté. Au tournant du millénaire, et dans la foulée de l’engouement pour un set d’indicateurs synthétiques et symboliques, la stratégie adoptée par la Belgique fut l’actualisation d’une note politique sur le sujet. Cet engagement pour la lutte contre la pauvreté se situe d’ailleurs dans  une période particulière. On assiste à l’institutionnalisation pour la première fois, du consensus sur la nécessité d’éradiquer la pauvreté [2]. Se pose dès lors la question de savoir s’il est pertinent, nécessaire et efficace d’institutionnaliser des accords internationaux, comme condition pour avancer sur des défis communs. Il est évident que ce ciblage collectif de la pauvreté comme objectif central de la coopération au développement a marqué les choix stratégiques de la plupart des pays donateurs.

En Belgique, la loi formulée en 1999 qui encadrait l’action du gouvernement en matière de coopération internationale se fondait en effet sur cet objectif. La « loi relative à la coopération au développement » adoptée le 19 mars 2013 met à jour la vision politique en la matière. Désormais, le « développement humain durable », basé sur la défense et le respect des trois générations de Droits humains tels que définis dans les pactes des Nations Unies en la matière, constitue l’objectif général de la Coopération belge au Développement.

Si la priorité de la lutte contre la pauvreté fait l’objet d’un consensus dans l’esprit de la Déclaration du Millénaire, des critiques ont toutefois été rapidement formulées. Très vite, les organisations de développement de la société civile se sont exprimées[3] : une des premières limites des OMD résidait justement dans le fait d’isoler chaque objectif en fonction de la thématique, et de les assortir de cibles purement quantitatives. En effet, la plupart des domaines identifiés sont en réalité dans une relation systémique. Les réussites dans l’un doivent pouvoir soutenir les progrès dans l’autre, et inversement les freins ont un effet domino quasi systématique.

Ainsi le set d’OMD faisait le pari d’avancer sur des objectifs sociaux essentiellement, en quantifiant l’atteinte de résultats dans les pays en développement. La stratégie pour atteindre ces objectifs ne faisant quant à elle pas l’objet d’une vision partagée [4]. C’est pourquoi une erreur fondamentale a consisté à faire de l’outil qui doit mesurer les actions une fin en soi. Le ciblage sur quelques indicateurs quantitatifs, notamment dans le cas de l’OMD 1 (éliminer l’extrême pauvreté et la faim, et réduire de moitié, à 2015, la proportion de la population mondiale dont le revenu est inférieur à un dollar par jour, qui souffre de la faim et qui n’a pas accès à l’eau potable) et de l’OMD 2 (assurer l’éducation primaire pour tous), ne doit en effet pas être découplé d’une dimension politique forte, de principes partagés sur la vision du développement.

Comment, par exemple, se donner pour objectif la diminution de la proportion de personnes sous le seuil de pauvreté absolue, sans considérer la question des inégalités qui maintient dans une pauvreté relative ? De la même manière que l’éducation doit être considérée comme un moyen d’apporter une émancipation et de contribuer au développement, la batterie institutionnelle mise en place pour atteindre l’OMD 2 ne doit pas constituer la fin en soi.

Dans une étude diagnostique sur les Objectifs du millénaire et l’éducation en Afrique, réalisée pour le Conseil Wallonie-Bruxelles de la coopération internationale (CWBCI), le CNCD-11.11.11 mettait déjà en évidence en 2006 le biais qui consiste à se concentrer sur la réalisation quantitative (construction de classes, décompte du nombre d’enfants scolarisés par exemple), au détriment de l’objectif qualitatif individuel et collectif (améliorer l’offre éducative afin que le parcours de scolarité contribue aux perspectives de développement)[5].

Ce nouveau cadre international va pourtant fort influencer la façon dont les gouvernements des « pays donateurs » vont penser, mettre en œuvre et justifier leur coopération au développement. Le caractère synthétique, et compréhensible d’un large public ayant contribué pour beaucoup à cet engouement. En Belgique, cela s’est traduit par la mise en place d’un exercice de suivi et d’évaluation des résultats atteints, qui utilise le cadre de référence des OMD.

Mais en amont, un certain engagement politique est formulé dans des notes de politiques intermédiaires, en 2009 et en 2010. Ainsi depuis 2006 un rapport annuel est élaboré et présenté devant le Parlement fédéral, afin de rendre compte de la « contribution belge à la réalisation des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement ». Il se trouve que cet exercice de rapport constitue l’un des seuls moments de bilan plus transversal, qui soit produit par la coopération belge. On y prend alors connaissance d’une certaine auto-évaluation de la coopération belge, même si cela n’en n’est pas le lieu officiel et attitré.

Sont ainsi épinglées la contribution accrue pour l’agriculture et l’alimentation, avec l’objectif d’atteindre 15% de l’APD consacrée à cette priorité sectorielle en 2015, et la concentration sur l’éducation et la formation au niveau supérieur en priorité, avec 12% du budget[6].Toutefois, la contribution belge pour l’OMD 7 relatif à l’environnement durable n’est pas à la hauteur des ambitions déclarées. Alors qu’elle s’est engagée à contribuer pour 150 millions d’euros à l’alimentation du mécanisme de financement rapide « Fast Start », elle n’en a engagé que 90 millions au bout des trois années de la période initialement prévue.

Parallèlement, la Belgique a opté pour un renforcement de son rôle dans la concertation au sein des organisations multilatérales. Ainsi les contributions belges aux agences des Nations Unies, par exemple, sont quasi systématiquement faites aux budgets généraux. Ce faisant, la Belgique désire pouvoir jouer un rôle accru dans les discussions stratégiques. Toutefois une interpellation constante de la société civile belge consiste à rappeler l’importance d’améliorer la cohérence de l’ensemble des décisions politiques belges, au-delà de la seule politique de coopération.

En effet, déjà lors de la revue par les pairs du CAD de l’OCDE en 2010, des recommandations allaient dans ce sens[7]. Aux côtés des différentes initiatives qui visent à améliorer l’efficacité de son aide, il est impératif que le gouvernement belge dans son ensemble se donne les moyens de rendre tous ses domaines d’action cohérents entre eux. Ne pas contrecarrer l’atteinte des objectifs de la coopération au développement par des mesures commerciales, financières ou migratoires par exemple. Ne pas reprendre d’une main ce que l’on a donné de l’autre. Il est d’ailleurs marquant que ledit rapport belge sur la contribution aux OMD ne s’arrête qu’à la coordination entre les différents canaux de l’aide publique (cohérence interne), en lieu et place d’une mise en question de la cohérence entre les différentes compétences, au-delà de la coopération (cohérence pangouvernementale).

Penser l’efficacité du développement en ces termes de cohérence des politiques, c’est inévitablement se soumettre à un exercice d’autocritique et de dialogue sur l’ensemble de ses pratiques. Dès lors, le défi majeur posé à la communauté internationale, sa capacité à rester en dialogue constitue certainement la priorité. De plus en plus d’analyses et de propositions commencent à émerger de toutes parts quant à la vision du développement au-delà de 2015 : organisations internationales, gouvernements, organisations de la société civile. Une des questions fondamentales sera celle d’arriver à maintenir une vision commune, à la traduite en accord, au moyen de mesures opérationnelles et à s’adresser à tous dans un esprit de responsabilités partagées. Une autre limite souvent relevée au sujet des OMD était la limitation aux pays en développement. Depuis lors, et notamment dans le cadre des réflexions qui ont entouré le sommet de Rio+20, il est évident que les défis globaux appellent à ce que des objectifs communs soient identifiés. La Belgique a d’ailleurs montré une forte implication dans les négociations sur le développement durable. Il est à espérer qu’elle maintienne ses ambitions pour la défense d’une dimension sociale forte pour le futur cadre international d’après 2015.

Engager la discussion, accepter de coopérer en vue d’entamer véritablement une transition socio-écologique juste et équitable. Telle est l’alternative qui s’impose, en permettant à chaque partie prenante, individuelle ou collective, de participer et prendre ses responsabilités. Pour ce faire, « l’éradication de la pauvreté et des inégalités sociales et de genre, la remise en question de nos modes de production et de consommation et la préservation des ressources et des services »[8] sont les composantes incontournables du futur cadre international de développement en devenir.

Notes :

[1] Développement : l’aide aux pays en développement fléchit sous l’effet de la récession mondiale, Communiqué de presse du CAD de l’OCDE, 4 avril 2012

[2] Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Should global goal setting continue, and how, in the post-2015 era ?, (New York: United Nations DESA, July 2012), 24 p.

[3] Voir notamment à ce sujet : Aurélie Leroy, Potentialités et limites des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement. Tour d’horizon dans six pays du Sud, (Louvain-la-Neuve, Septembre 2006), 35p.

[4] Ibidem

[5] Arnaud Zacharie, Marta Ruiz, Oumou Zé et Francisco Padilla, Les Objectifs du millénaire et l’éducation en Afrique : Etude diagnostique sur la République démocratique du Congo, le Rwanda, le Sénégal, le Burkina Faso et le Maroc, (Bruxelles : CWBCI, 2006), 175p.

[6] Rapport annuel 2010, (Bruxelles : DGD, 2011), 112 p.

[7] Oumou Zé, Arnaud Zacharie et al. L’aide en temps de crises : repli ou coopération ? Rapport 2012 sur l’aide belge au développement, (Bruxelles, CNCD-11.11.11 : 2012), 45p.

[8] Véronique Rigot, Rio+20 : L’abîme ou la métamorphose ?, IN Point Sud N°6, (Bruxelles, Mai 2012), 44p.


Menos pobreza, igual calidad de vida

Los logros en la lucha contra la pobreza que las estadísticas por ingreso atribuyen al gobierno de Venezuela desde 1999 se ven opacados por la violencia y la inseguridad, que impiden el ejercicio pleno de los derechos a la educación, a la salud, al esparcimiento y al goce de los espacios públicos. Las reformas constitucionales y legales que se han sucedido desde 2008 suponen otro retroceso tras los avances de los derechos básicos en el primer periodo de Hugo Chávez en la presidencia, al centralizar el poder político, restringir la participación y las libertades democráticas y el pluralismo, y aumentar la militarización de la sociedad. Al mismo tiempo, las autoridades insisten con la criminalización de la protesta social.

Rafael Uzcátegui
Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)

Los logros en la lucha contra la pobreza que las estadísticas por ingreso atribuyen al gobierno de Venezuela desde 1999 se ven opacados por la violencia y la inseguridad, que impiden el ejercicio pleno de los derechos a la educación, a la salud, al esparcimiento y al goce de los espacios públicos. Las reformas constitucionales y legales que se han sucedido desde 2008 suponen otro retroceso tras los avances de los derechos básicos en el primer periodo de Hugo Chávez en la presidencia, al centralizar el poder político, restringir la participación y las libertades democráticas y el pluralismo, y aumentar la militarización de la sociedad. Al mismo tiempo, las autoridades insisten con la criminalización de la protesta social.

Al alcanzar en 1998 la Presidencia de Venezuela por voto popular, Hugo Chávez inauguró un proceso político inédito denominado “V República”, a cargo de una coalición de fuerzas distintas a las que ejercían el poder desde 1958 y en medio de gran expectativa. Su gobierno, que se proponía refundar las instituciones democráticas, promovió la Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela (CRBV), elaborada por una asamblea constituyente y aprobada por referéndum el 15 de diciembre de 1999. Desde ese momento, lo que Chávez denominó “la mejor constitución del mundo” se convirtió en la base de su proyecto social y político, del cual el Poder Ejecutivo fue el principal difusor.

Diferentes organizaciones sociales que participaron activamente en el proceso constituyente reconocieron los avances y garantías que ofrece el texto para el disfrute de los derechos humanos. El artículo 2 establece como obligación del Estado garantizar “la vida, la libertad, la justicia, la igualdad, la solidaridad, la democracia, la responsabilidad social y, en general, la preeminencia de los derechos humanos, la ética y el pluralismo político”. El artículo 19 afirma: "El Estado garantizará a toda persona, conforme al principio de progresividad y sin discriminación alguna, el goce y ejercicio irrenunciable, indivisible e interdependiente de los derechos humanos". La CRBV, además, le dio rango constitucional a los tratados globales sobre derechos humanos, estableció la preeminencia de los órganos internacionales de justicia por sobre los nacionales, obligó al Estado a investigar y castigar las violaciones, excluyó a la justicia militar de esos procesos, y ordenó la reparación a las víctimas, así como prohibió la amnistía y el indulto en casos de delitos de lesa humanidad, violaciones graves de derechos humanos y crímenes de guerra.

Apenas seis años después de la promulgación de la CBR, y tras la reelección presidencial de Hugo Chávez en diciembre de 2006, su gobierno la sustituyó como base por denominada “transición acelerada al Socialismo del siglo XXI” (1). Al año siguiente, propuso reformar la Constitución mediante referéndum. Organizaciones de de derechos humanos advirtieron que la iniciativa pondría en riesgo la participación democrática y el pluralismo. La derrota por escaso margen de la propuesta oficialista reflejó que amplios sectores de la sociedad, muchos de ellos identificados con el gobierno, rechazaban o no terminaban de comprender los planes del presidente Chávez. Esa corriente crítica dentro del “movimiento bolivariano” cuestionaba la desviación del consenso social alcanzado alrededor del proyecto que consagró la Constitución de 1999.

El gobierno insistió, y, en diciembre del 2008, la ciudadanía aprobó finalmente una enmienda en la Carta Magna que admitía la reelección indefinida del Presidente de la República y de otros funcionarios designados por el voto popular. Por otra parte, mediante la denominada Ley Habilitante (2) aprobada en el 2010, que le permitió prescindir del control parlamentario, el Ejecutivo promulgó por su sola iniciativa 54 leyes, algunas de ellas para modificar la estructura del Estado, centralizando el poder, restringiendo libertades democráticas, aumentando la militarización de la sociedad y reduciendo la posibilidad de convivencia plural. Por la vía de los hechos, Venezuela terminó con una Constitución diferente de la aprobada en 1999 (3).

En la campaña rumbo a las elecciones presidenciales del 7 de octubre de 2012, Hugo Chávez describió en su plataforma por la reelección, titulada Programa para la Gestión Bolivariana Socialista 2013-2019, un modelo de organización estatal de tipo comunal no prevista en la CRBV, que modificaría incluso el ordenamiento territorial del país y restaría competencias a diferentes instancias de poder local y regional. Al lograr en las urnas 55% de los votos y su tercer período presidencial, el proyecto comunal de Chávez, a pesar de haber eludido los canales institucionales democráticos establecidos, contaría con una relativa legitimidad (4).

Menos pobreza, igual calidad de vida

Los gobiernos del presidente Chávez han logrado una significativa disminución de la pobreza según el Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) (5). En 1998 el 54.48% de los hogares se encontraban en situación de pobreza, de los cuales el 23.37% estaba en la categoría de pobreza extrema. Para el año 2011 los hogares en situación de pobreza habían disminuido al 31.62%, de los cuales el 8.53% eran pobres extremos. Pobreza es una condición definida como un ingreso menor al necesario para comprar los bienes y servicios que componen una canasta alimentaria indispensable para subsistir y satisfacer necesidades básicas.

Esta manera de medir la pobreza es útil para evaluar el impacto de políticas sociales en los sectores de menores recursos, pero resulta insuficiente para concluir si una mejora en esos indicadores representa mejoras reales en la calidad de vida de la población. Una serie de dimensiones no monetarias de la pobreza afectan la vida cotidiana y son imposibles de ponderar mediante esos parámetros.

En el caso venezolano, la violencia y la inseguridad en las principales ciudades han afectado la calidad de vida de la población en general. La cantidad de homicidios se más que duplicó de 5.968 en 1998 (25 por cada 100.000 habitantes) a 13.400 en 2011, según el oficial Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas (CICPC). La cifra se eleva a 18.850 si se incluyen los casos calificados de homicidio “por resistencia a la autoridad”. Aproximadamente una persona es asesinada cada media hora.

Además de reducir el espacio público y las actividades recreativas de toda índole en horarios nocturnos, la violencia y la inseguridad generalizadas socavan el disfrute de los derechos sociales de los sectores más vulnerables. Setenta y tres por ciento de los estudiantes encuestados para un informe del Centro Gumilla han presenciado situaciones violentas dentro de las escuelas, lo cual afecta el goce del derecho a la educación, así como los permanentes robos de equipos y mobiliario de sus instalaciones. A la reducción de las horas de clase nocturnas en la enseñanza media y en la superior se suma la renuncia de educadores en centros educativos de zonas con alta delictividad.

También se clausuran servicios nocturnos de emergencia de la red hospitalaria nacional y se restringen los horarios de consulta médicas en centros privados de salud. Por otra parte, gran cantidad de personas heridas con armas de fuego colapsa las salas de terapia intensiva, lo cual dificulta la prestación de servicios a otros pacientes que igualmente requieren atención de emergencia.

En el segundo período presidencial de Hugo Chávez (2007-2013) se estancó la reducción de la pobreza, que había sido de 16,4% entre 2004 y 2006 (en apenas dos años), y de apenas de 1,8% en los cuatro años siguientes. (6)

Criminalización de la defensa de derechos humanos

Venezuela inició el proceso para retirarse de la jurisdicción de la Comisión y de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos. La Comisión lamentó la decisión: “Si el Estado lleva a término el procedimiento iniciado, los y las habitantes de Venezuela perderán una instancia de protección de sus derechos humanos, quedarán más vulnerables a los abusos y tendrán menos recursos disponibles para defenderse” (7).

La decisión responde a una política que desconoce y criminaliza tanto a instancias de protección internacional de los derechos humanos como a las organizaciones de la sociedad civil que recurren a ellas. El presidente Chávez ha liderado los ataques, acusando a la Corte de “brazo imperialista para agredir a Venezuela”, anunciando que el país se retiraría “por dignidad” (8). En su reporte sobre 2011, la Vicaría de Derechos Humanos de la Arquidiócesis de Caracas contabilizó 76 agresiones a defensores y defensoras de esos derechos, con 92 víctimas en total (9). Según el informe, 28 sindicalistas murieron a manos de sicarios, en conflictos por empleos en el sector de la construcción. El órgano eclesiástico registró también la muerte violenta de cinco defensores del derecho a la tierra, y advirtió que el Estado es omiso en sus obligaciones “de garantizar la seguridad de los dirigentes campesinos” y de “investigar y sancionar las violaciones a los derechos humanos de este sector, que permanecen en la impunidad” (10).

El 30 de abril de 2012, el Foro por la Vida, que reúne a 18 organizaciones nacionales de derechos humanos, rechazaron “los ataques (…) a través de redes sociales y medios de comunicación” contra Humberto Prado, del Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones, y Carlos Nieto Palma, de Una Ventana a la Libertad, en un caso de clara criminalización.

Los ataques han sido particularmente severos en el caso de Prado, acusado en junio de 2011 por el Ministro del Poder Popular para las Relaciones Interiores y Justicia, Tareck El Aissami, de ser “parte y cómplice de las masacres que hubo en el pasado”. El Aissami también afirmó que el Observatorio “es una caja chica del Departamento de Estado” (cancillería de Estados Unidos) con la “función es desestabilizar el sistema penitenciario” (11).

El 1 de noviembre de 2012, tras una audiencia en la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), la ministra del Poder Popular para el Servicio Penitenciario, Iris Varela, declaró que Prado, Nieto y Rocío San Miguel, de la organización Control Ciudadano, participaron en la instancia para “justificar su sueldo y seguir obteniendo el financiamiento que reciben del gobierno estadounidense a través” de la oficial Agencia para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID, por sus siglas en inglés) y de la Fundación Nacional para la Democracia (NED), institución privada con sede en Washington que recibe fondos presupuestales.

En 2012 comenzó el juicio contra el secretario general del sindicato Sintraferrominera, Rubén González, cuya audiencia fue diferida tres veces. Tras apoyar a los trabajadores en huelga para pedir el cumplimiento del contrato colectivo, González había sido condenado el 28 de febrero de 2011, en la ciudad de Puerto Ordaz, a siete años, seis meses, 22 días y 12 horas de prisión por los delitos de “instigación a delinquir”, “restricción de la libertad del trabajo” y “violación del régimen especial de zonas de seguridad”. Apenas tres días después, la Sala Penal del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia anuló la sentencia y ordenó un nuevo juicio oral y público en la ciudad de Caracas, sustituyendo detención provisional por la presentación cada 30 días ante tribunales y la prohibición de salir del país.

Según el estudio de la Vicaría, únicamente en el estado Bolívar (donde vive Rubén González), 72 sindicalistas estaban en 2010 sujetos a proceso penal por ejercer acciones de reivindicación laboral. Para el primer trimestre de 2011, la cifra se había elevado a 95. A partir de la reforma del Código Penal de 2005, se ha venido estructurando un marco legal restrictivo del derecho a la manifestación pacífica, reflejado en la represión policial y judicial de actividades asociadas tradicionalmente al ejercicio de la acción sindical, como lo son la manifestación pública, la protesta en oficinas públicas y lugares de trabajo y el ejercicio de la huelga. Este marco legal punitivo está estructurado sobre los artículos 191, 218, 283, 285, 286,357, 358 y 468 del Código Penal: los artículos, 47, y 56 de La Ley Orgánica de Seguridad de la Nación, los artículos 139 y 141 de la Ley para la Defensa de las Personas en el Acceso a los Bienes y Servicios, así como los artículos 24 y 25 de la Ley Especial de Defensa Popular contra el Acaparamiento, el Boicot y Cualquier otra Conducta que Afecte el Consumo de Alimentos o Productos sometidos al Control de Precios.


El 01 de octubre del 2012 el Foro por la Vida, coalición de 18 organizaciones de derechos humanos venezolanas, presentó una serie de propuestas tituladas “Agenda de tareas urgentes para garantizar los derechos humanos en Venezuela”. Algunas de estas eran la derogación de toda legislación restrictiva de la libertad de asociación en cualquier ámbito; Garantizar la suspensión de funcionarios de cuerpos policiales y militares indiciados de participar en la muerte, tortura o desaparición de un ciudadano o ciudadana; Eliminar la facultad del Ejecutivo de nombrar y destituir los fiscales y jueces militares; Erradicar todas las formas de discriminación en la investigación y administración de justicia; Acatar las sentencias de los tribunales internacionales de protección a los derechos humanos, cumpliendo de manera expedita sus decisiones así como promover un debate y diálogo nacional con todos los actores sobre normas y políticas públicas para afrontar la criminalidad de manera democrática y con respeto a los derechos humanos. El documento completo puede consultarse en http://www.derechos.org.ve/2012/10/02/foro-por-la-vida-agenda-de-tareas-...




Tras las elecciones presidenciales del 14 de abril en Venezuela, que mostraron un país dividido políticamente en dos partes prácticamente iguales, Provea y otras organizaciones de derechos humanos exhortaron a un diálogo entre la oposición y el gobierno para dar una salida pacífica y democrática a la crisis política.

La polarización que vive Venezuela constituye un escenario adverso para la paz social y el respeto a los derechos humanos. El resultado electoral evidencia un país dividido en torno al modelo social, económico y político. Es un paso positivo el acuerdo alcanzado en la Asamblea Nacional para establecer un diálogo constructivo que permita adoptar leyes que urgen en el país. Pero esa actitud dialogante debe extenderse a toda la gestión institucional del Estado, reconociendo a los otros y respetando los preceptos constitucionales, en especial los derechos humanos allí establecidos.

1. http://www.scielo.org.ve/pdf/rvecs/v14n3/art05.pdf
2 La llamada Ley Habilitante le confiere facultades extraordinarias al Presidente de la República para aprobar leyes sin que sean debatidas en la Asamblea Nacional.
3. Algunas de estas leyes son la Reforma del Código Penal, la Ley del Consejo Federal de Gobierno, la Ley de Conscripción y Alistamiento Militar, la Ley de la Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, la Ley de los Consejos Comunales, la Ley de Pesca, la Ley de Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre, y la Ley para la Defensa de las Personas en el Acceso a los Bienes y Servicios, entre otras.
4. La Ley de los Consejos Comunales define esos órganos como instancias de participación para la construcción del socialismo, lo cual obstaculiza la participación de otras opciones políticas.
5. En 1998, según el ingreso por familia, 2.068.736 de los hogares venezolanos (11.212.273 personas) vivían en condiciones de pobreza. De ellos, 803.476 hogares (4.524.392 personas) sufrían pobreza extrema. En contraste, para 2011 los hogares pobres eran 1.836.227 (9.080.941 personas), entre ellos 482.636 (2.450.621 personas) soportaban pobreza extrema.
6. En el segundo semestre de 2007, había 1.804.628 hogares en condiciones de pobreza. Cuatro años después esa cifra se elevó a 1.836.227, es decir que se sumaron 31.599 hogares.
7. Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, “CIDH lamenta decisión de Venezuela de denunciar Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos”, <http://www.oas.org/es/cidh/prensa/comunicados/2012/117.asp>, (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2012).
8. El Mundo Económico: “Chávez: La Cidh es un brazo del imperio para agredir a Venezuela”, <http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/tuvoto/chavez--la-cidh-es-un-brazo-del-imperio-para-agred.aspx>, (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2011).
9. Vicaría de Derechos Humanos de la Arquidiócesis de Caracas: “Informe 2011 sobre la Situación de los Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Venezuela”, < http://www.slideshare.net/espaciopublico/informe-2011-sobre-la-situacin-..., (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2011).
10. Foro por la Vida, “Foro por la Vida rechaza criminalización de ONG que trabajan el tema penitenciario”, <http://foroporlavida.blogspot.com/2012/05/foro-por-la-vida-rechaza.html>, (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2011).
11. José Antonio Velásquez Montaño: “Este señor estuvo preso por Atraco, Robo a Mano Armada y por Homicidio”, Aporrea, <http://www.aporrea.org/ddhh/a125846.html>, (consultado el 01 de noviembre de 2011).
12. Prensa-Ministerio del Poder Popular para el Servicio Penitenciario: “Ministra Iris Varela, durante el programa de radio ‘No te prives’: ONGs venezolanas fueron a la CIDH a justificar el financiamiento que reciben de la USAID y la NED”, <http://www.mppsp.gob.ve/index.php/noticias/540-ministra-iris-varela-durante-el-programa-de-radio-no-te-prives-ongs-venezolanas-fueron-a-la-cidh-a-justificar-el-financiamiento-que-reciben-de-la-usaid-y-la-ned>, (consultado el 3 de noviembre de 2012).


New global development agenda should shake the structures of impoverishment

The Finnish government wants to be an accountable member of the international community, but its political will to be so does not always transpire. Finland has not, for example, been able to reach the 0.7 % target for its development funding. On the other hand Finland's current Development Policy Programme is positively founded on a rights-based approach. The challenge for Finnish civil society is to compel the government to improve its international performance.

Outi Hakkarainen

Although the Millennium Development Goals will not be fully achieved by 2015 we should still work hard for them. Another global task is to critically assess the MDG process in order to lay a solid foundation for a better global development agenda. Several problems hindering the achievement of the MDGs are rooted in the structures of the global economic system which discriminates against developing countries and in other structural biases based on such things as gender or ethnicity. Setting up a new agenda will be a futile effort if structures of impoverishment are not addressed and proper development enablers identified and enhanced.[1]

Finland is a North European nation with its own socio-economic challenges, but globally it belongs to well-off countries responsible for engaging in the global development agenda. The Finnish government wants to be an accountable member of the international community, but its political will to be so does not always transpire. Finland won´t, for example, reach the 0,7 % target by 2015 which is a deadline year agreed in the EU. On the other hand Finland's current Development Policy Programme is positively founded on a human rights-based approach and democratic ownership [2]. The challenge for Finnish civil society is to compel the government to improve its international performance. There are several challenges in which Finland could be met to create a more active and courageous role in order to further global progress. Some of these challenges will be discussed in this article but first some thoughts on the MDGs.

Progress has been made towards the MDGs and development would most certainly have been slower without them. However, several shortcomings have been recognised, e.g. the absence of certain important themes, too modest objectives, narrow definition of poverty instead of focusing on the inequality gap, restricted attention on employment issues, limited perspectives on environmental and human rights, loose formulation of the goal of global partnership, lack of accountability mechanisms, and change towards a more equitable world pursued through a very limited toolbox, i.e. development cooperation.[3] In addition, the MDGs have not met the standards of existing international commitments. The target of halving the number of people living in poverty, for example, was less ambitious than the one agreed at the 1996 UN World Food Conference in Rome.[4] Other deficiencies have been a closed and donor-led formulation process, the impossibility to reduce broad structural problems into eight goals, the inability to take into account the special needs of fragile states, and the lack of formulating parallel goals for rich countries.

Emerging actors and limits of development cooperation

The world has changed since the Millennium Declaration and the geography of poverty has undergone a fundamental transformation. The fact that majority of people living on less than 1.25 US dollars a day live in middle-income countries need to influence the selection of tools to eradicate poverty after 2015. Development co-operation will continue to play an important role incountries with the highest levels of poverty and the lowest levels of domestic resources.

 But strong commitment from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging economies is also required. It is essential to ask how to make their national development sustainable and to ensure that emerging business activities benefit the entire society. These countries are themselves responsible for their own development but international co-operation may help them. For example, support for democratization can be crucial as it usually correlates with fairer income distribution.

Another dilemma is their involvement in Africa where especially China, India and Brazil are creating South-South partnerships, asking for diplomatic support, and searching for resources and markets. The trade between the emerging actors and Africa has more than quadrupled from 2000 to 2009 and a similar growth surge is happening in investments and aid. Their share is still relatively moderate (e.g. 20% of the Africa’s foreign trade) but the reason why these actors have caused such a stir is the rapid and continuing rise of their engagement and negative influence they are commonly thought to have in the African societies by breaking deals with political elites with little attention paid to democracy, good governance, transparency, accountability or civil society participation, and their eagerness to exploit oil, land and other natural resources in the African continent.[5]

However, despite the drawbacks for example of China’s presence, its activities are often seen in Africa as more positive than Europe’s long involvement in their continent. For example the research on China, southern Africa and extractive industries argues that there can be a ‘win-win partnership’ if southern African governments' policies are based on achieving long-term socio-economic and development goals. In the case of the extractive industry this kind of impact could mean effective mining public administration, competencies to run extractive industries, appropriate tax regimes, functional linkages between the extractive industries and local economies and social responsibility demands for Chinese companies.[6] Finland and other donor countries should support the African governments in achieving these objectives and such cooperation with any foreign actor which do not hinder the development of the African societies. Crucial is also to acknowledge the role of multinational corporations which are increasingly shaking the playground. There is an urgent need for comprehensive corporate accountability rules.

Sustainable policies for lending, trade and tax collection

The turn of the millennium was characterised by debates about the debt problems of developing countries, the loan terms and conditions used by development finance institutions and the unfair rules of international trade. Nevertheless, progress has remained modest. International trade rules still fail to support the reduction of global poverty and effective long-term solutions to the debt problems of developing countries have not been found, despite promises. The new global framework should be equipped with incentives for sustainable lending policies and for trade policies supportive of developing countries. It is especially crucial to ensure coherence between these goals and the politics of international trade, investments and taxes. In the investment politics it is essential to take into consideration the special needs of the poorest countries and to create explicit and binding rules for the private sector as in addition to the state as it has lot of influence on developing countries and ecological carrying capacity of our planet.

The significance of taxation to financing developing countries is being gradually understood in the international community. Research has revealed a strong correlation between successful tax collection and human development. States dependent on tax revenue fare usually better when measured by good governance and democracy when compared with developing countries living on revenue from oil, for example.[7] The terms and conditions of loans granted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have contributed to bringing about a situation where developing countries have been forced to shift the focus of taxation towards consumption taxes in recent decades, as customs revenue has plummeted as a result of trade liberalisation.
People have also come to realise that curbing tax evasion practised by major companies plays a key role as developing countries try to get rid of their dependence on aid. The revenue lost by developing countries due to tax evasion by major companies may even exceed the amounts they gain in the form of development assistance many times over.[8] Taxation of foreign companies is also a key issue for middle-income countries. The taxes payable by companies bring needed revenue to the efforts of these states and enabling them to carry out their own development plans. The sustainability and fairness of tax systems should be included as part of the new development agenda. Internationally, it is crucial to control the tax havens and uproot tax avoidance, and to develop tax administration nationally and enhance the decrease of aid dependency.

Climate justice

The current economic growth model does not rest on a sustainable foundation. The biggest problem to the Earth’s carrying capacity [9] is posed by rich countries, which bear the brunt of responsibility for climate and environmental protection, and by big companies which cause the majority of man-made emissions. Environment and climate aspects should be integrated into the new development agenda so that they force rich nations to pay attention to their consumption habits and companies to be ecologically responsible. Furthermore, the new agenda should demand sustainable use of natural resources, include both global and national goals according to each country's responsibilities and capabilities, respect developing countries' right to development and emphasize climate justice. To achieve these objectives, developing countries need international support, such as climate finance, for their mitigation and adaptation activities. Climate finance should be new and additional to current ODA commitments.

In addition to supporting ambitious global goals Finland should enact a strong national climate law. A coalition of civil society actors has fought for an ambitious, just and forward-looking climate law since 2008. In June 2014 the government introduced Finland's first Climate Change Act, which sets a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050. The bill is yet to be proposed to the parliament, but is expected to be passed in 2015.

Challenging the growth imperative

The development discourse is largely based on seeing economic growth as an undisputed condition for development although growth-driven economic policies have not shown to be a way to ensure decent livelihood for all, the trickle-down does not happen. Critical voices and alternative visions are rising up in different corners of the world. Approaches of 'buen vivir' (living well) and the solidarity economy have, for example, emerged especially in Latin America while commons-thinking and de-growth discourse are widening largely in the global North. These all challenge the simplified growth paradigm and enhance people-centred economics.[10]

The concept of the green economy is another story as it has been adopted so widely that its definitions are even contradictory. In the very best-case scenario, it may promote fair and just trade relations, help developing countries to skip the fossil fuel industry stage and raise the prices of dwindling natural resources to match their real value but in practice the use of the concept has widely caused suspicion. Some developing countries have expressed fears that more stringent environmental standards may exclude high-emission products from Western markets or may open a door to making aid and debt relief conditional. Quite different concerns rise from the people's movements, which are not able to see how the label of the green economy makes a difference to current unsustainable economic practices, and estimate the concept primarily as a tool for “green-washing”. These different approaches need to be recognized when formulating the new global development agenda and the social movements' voices based on local experiences to be carefully listened.

The debate on economic growth is also linked to the criticism on the gross domestic product (GDP) as an adequate indicator. Complementary instruments include e.g. the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) that notice human and environmental well-being more broadly. Indicators such as the ecological footprint draw attention to consumption habits. For the new global development agenda, it is imperative to ensure that the benefits of different indicators can be used instead of making them compete against each other.

Towards another world

Despite the enormous problems and injustices we currently face in the world, we should continue to believe that another world is possible. We can reduce poverty and boost social development either by burdening or preserving the environment. The key question is how to get future goals to acknowledge the structures of impoverishment.

In the light of current knowledge, it is possible to provide the poorest part of the world’s population with adequate food, energy and subsistence in a sustainable manner. For instance, bringing electricity to the almost one fifth of the world’s population currently without it could be achieved with less than a 1% increase in global CO2 emissions. Providing the additional calories needed by the world’s population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply.[11]

Furthermore, we can combat inequality in its multiple manifestations. Child benefits, pension schemes, health care accessible to everyone and other instruments of comprehensive social policy have been the cornerstones of poverty reduction for decades in rich countries, in particular in Finland and in the other Nordic countries. However, it has taken a long time for comprehensive social policy to break through onto the development agenda.

It is important that Finland will continue working on the themes which have successfully been at the core of its agenda, e.g. gender equality, but as underlined at the beginning, it is time for Finland to make a bigger difference and putting also its own house in order, for example by achieving sustainable consumption and production and by giving up harmful subsidies In the context of new development agenda Finland should contribute to ensuring that the agenda is prepared in a fair, equitable and inclusive manner. Responsibility for the goal-setting process should rest with the UN and its member states as the UN is the only body with broad enough representation and acceptance for this purpose. Planning should be co-ordinated between states, local governments and civil society, and here the dilemma of enabling environment for civil societies needs to be acknowledged.

Other dilemmas are policy coherence between policy sectors and securing the resources for implementing the new development agenda. The old promise of 0.7 % target of development financing must be kept and in addition new public sources of financing are needed. Besides more resources these sources may contribute to reducing carbon emissions, such as greenhouse gas taxes, or reducing harmful short-term speculation like the financial transaction tax.

The most important challenge for Finland and the entire international community is to fight against inequality. Global inequality has increased during recent decades so hugely that both extreme poverty and extreme levels of wealth hinder egalitarian and stable development of the world. In order to diminish inequality we need to address both poverty and wealth in their structural terms.


[1] See Kepa's publications: What Kind of World Do We Want to Live In? From the Millennium Development Goals to the Post 2015 development agenda, Kepa Current Issues Report 14 (November 2013). http://www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/kepa_ajankohtaiskatsaus_2013_en_f.... Is development sustainable? – The world beyond the Millennium Development Goals, Kepa Current Issues Report  10 (March 2012). <http://www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/is-development-sustainable.pdf>

[2] Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland's Development Policy Programme (Helsinki: 2012), <http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=251855&nodeid=15452&contentlan=2&culture=en-US>

[3] See, for example: A. R. Khan, Employment and Millennium Development Goals: Analytics of the Linkage in the Context of an Accelerated Effort to Achieve the MDGs (2007), <www.azizkhan.net/EmploymentMDG.pdf>; S. Amin, the Millennium Development Goals: A Critique from the South, Monthly Review 2006, Volume 57, Issue 10. <http://monthlyreview.org/2006/03/01/the-millennium-development-goals-acritique-from-the-south>; Amnesty International, From Promises to Delivery: Putting Human Rights at the Heart of the Millennium Development Goals (Amnesty International Publications 2010).

[4] M. Loewe, Introduction: What is good about the MDGs and what is bad… A seminar paper presented at the Millennium Goals and Beyond: Reflections on an International Development Policy Agenda after 2015 seminar held in Bonn, 21–22 November 2011, <http://www.die-gdi.de/CMS-Homepage/openwebcms3_e.nsf/(ynDK_contentByKey)/MPHG-8JB9BB?OpenDocument&nav=active:Ver anstaltungen%5CMPHG-8JB9BB>

[5] J. Nuutinen, China and other emerging actors in Africa, Kepa's Working Papers n:o 34 (2012) www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/china-and-other-emerging-actors.pdf; I. Taylor, China’s New Role in Africa. (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc, 2009).

[6] G. Shelton and C. Kabemba (eds.), Win-Win Partnerships? China, Southern Africa and the Extractive Industries, (Johannesburg: Southern Africa Resource Watch SARW 2012), <downloadable at www.sarwatch.org>

[7] J. Marshall, One Size Fits All? IMF Tax Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa, Christian Aid Occasional Paper No. 2, April 2009), <http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/imfoccpaper.pdf>

[8] Kepa, Laiton pääomapako kehitysmaista: ”Kehitysapua” köyhiltä rikkaille, <http://www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/laiton-paaomapako.pdf> [Illegal capital flight from developing countries: ‘Development assistance’ from the poor to the rich. English translation available at: http://www.kepa.fi/tiedostot/julkaisut/illegal-capital-flight.pdf]; D. Kar and S. Freitas, Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries Over the Decade Ending 2009, (Global Financial Integrity: 2011), <http://www.gfintegrity.org/storage/gfip/documents/reports/IFFDec2011/illicit_financial_flows_from_developing_countries_over_the_decade_ending_2009.pdf>

[9] WWF International, Living Planet Report 2010: Biodiversity, biocapacity and development (2010), <http:// www.worldwildlife.org/sites/living-planet-report/WWFBinaryitem18260.pdf>

[10] See, for example, M. Ulvila and J. Pasanen, Sustainable Futures. Replacing Growth Imperative and Hierarchies with Sustainable Ways (Helsinki: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2009). <http://www.ymparistojakehitys.fi/susopapers/Sustainable_Futures.pdf>

[11] K. Raworth, A safe and just space for humanity: Can we live within the doughnut?, (Oxfam discussion papers, February 2012), <http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/asafe-and-just-space-for-humanity-can-we-live-within-the-doughnut-210490>


No sustainable development without access to quality education

In September 2000, when the Millennium Summit was held at the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan was suffering from conflict and could not participate in the formulation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Government endorsed the Millennium Declaration as well as the MDGs only in March 2004. However, having lost over two decades to war, it has had to modify the global timetable and benchmarks to fit local realities. The rest of the international community defined the MDGs to be attained by 2015, against a baseline of 1990. Because of its lost decades and the lack of available information, Afghanistan has defined its MDG contribution as targets for 2020 from baselines of 2002 to 2005. Despite extreme poverty, ill health, and hunger, Afghans define the lack of security as their greatest problem. Hence the Government of Afghanistan has added this new goal to the eight global MDGs recognizing the critical role of peace and security in achieving the other MDGs.

Abdul Sami Zhman, Social Watch Afghanistan
Watch on Basic Rights Afghanistan Organization (WBRAO)
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA)
Sanayee Development Organization (SDO)
Cooperation for Peace and Development (CPD)
Organization of Human Resource Development (OHRD)
Saba Media Organization (SMO)

In September 2000, when the Millennium Summit was held at the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan was suffering from conflict and could not participate in the formulation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Government endorsed the Millennium Declaration as well as the MDGs only in March 2004. However, having lost over two decades to war, it has had to modify the global timetable and benchmarks to fit local realities. The rest of the international community defined the MDGs to be attained by 2015, against a baseline of 1990. Because of its lost decades and the lack of available information, Afghanistan has defined its MDG contribution as targets for 2020 from baselines of 2002 to 2005.

Despite extreme poverty, ill health, and hunger, Afghans define the lack of security as their greatest problem. Hence the Government of Afghanistan has added this new goal to the eight global MDGs recognizing the critical role of peace and security in achieving the other MDGs.

Afghanistan and the Post-2015 Agenda

Achieving the MDGs by 2015 is challenging but possible. Much depends on the fulfillment of MDG-8—the global partnership for development. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated, the current economic crises besetting much of the developed world must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made.

Although the MDGs will not be achieved by 2015, the goals are still valid and are to be considered as part of Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 Agenda. While the MDGs are not wrong, the strategies to achieve them need critical reflection. In Afghanistan, our people still suffer food insecurity, poor or no access to primary education, gender inequality, high rates of maternal and child mortality and morbidity, environmental problems, a fragile route to stability and sustainable development, all of which remain priorities.

World communities have learned the art of living in peace and have developed foundations to sustain peace and security. Afghanistan after three decades of war and conflict also needs to learn the art of living in peace. The key lies in education.

The Right to Education

Education has proven to be the foundation of every society and good news for its bright future, and access to education is a certain and fundamental right of all human beings, children in particular. It is famously said, "Where the gate of a school opens, the gates of ignorance are closed."

The right to education is enshrined in various verses of the Holy Quran: “Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught by the pen. He has taught human beings that which he knew not.” This statement is Allah's swearing and alerting His creatures to what He has favored them with by teaching them the skill of writing, through which knowledge is attained.

The right to education is also enshrined in Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the States parties to the Covenant have recognized every person's right to education. Primary education should be compulsory and made available for all, free of charge. And Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) emphasizes that the right to education is essential for every child and points out that this right should be provided based on equality of opportunity.

The Afghan Constitution has embraced the right to free education for all Afghan nationals in the state educational institutions up until the Bachelor's degree; it obliges the state to develop education in a balanced manner across the country, provide compulsory intermediate education, design and implement effective programmes, and provide the ground for teaching in mother tongues where such tongues are spoken.

As per Article 44 of the Afghan Constitution, the state has the duty to design and implement effective programmes in order to create educational balance and develop education for women, improve the education of the Kuchis and eliminate illiteracy. Article 3 of the Law on Education also has specified: "The nationals of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have an equal right to education without any kinds of discrimination."

Access to and Quality of Education

Student enrolment in Afghanistan has increased eight-fold in the last nine year, from less than a million in 2001 to over 7.3 million in 2010, with a current enrolment of 38 percent girls. Over 9,000 new schools have been established to facilitate easy access to education and over 12,500 general and Islamic schools are operational in all parts of the country. To cater for enrolment of new students, over 200,000 new teaching and support staff have been recruited and deployed to schools over this period.

Despite significant progress, Afghanistan still has a large number of out of school children (4.5 million, mostly girls). Strategies to increase enrolment and retention of students, particularly girls, include public awareness activities and advocacy for girls’ education, community-based schools, school food programmes, recruitment of female teachers from urban centres and relocation to rural schools, and expansion of teacher education colleges to provinces and districts with provision of incentives to female teacher trainees.

UN estimates put school attendance in Afghanistan at about 6 million children, 35 percent of whom are girls. Of the children who are able to attend school, half have no real school buildings but go to classes in tents. Girls walking to or from school risk being assaulted with acid. Teachers have been killed and parents who allow girls to attend school have been attacked and only 30 percent of girls have access to education. A public call for education for women is considered blasphemous.

With reference to adult literacy, more than 10.5 million people, are illiterate throughout the country; 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate.

Insecurity in some provinces has resulted in closing some of the schools and depriving a large number of students of education. In the current year, 502 schools in 71 districts of 10 provinces (Farah, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Paktika, Helmand, Khost, Paktia, Badghis and Nimroz) were or remained closed and as a result approximately 114,000 students are no longer able to continue to their education.

According to Ministry of Education planning norms the average student teacher ratio is 35:1. In 1389/2010 the average student teacher ratio was 43.7:1. In 1390/2011 the increase in students’ enrolment was 14% while the increase in total number of new positions provided by Ministry of Finance (MoF) to education was only 4.6% (10,000) including teachers and administrative staff. It is clear that this number is not adequate and negatively affects education quality. Moreover, 68% of the general education teachers do not meet the standard qualifications for a trained professional teacher (grade 14 graduate of Teacher Education Colleges), or their qualification is lower than grade 12.

 In addition, there are no qualified female teachers in 230 districts out of 412 rural and urban districts. As a result, retention and continuation of girls’ education in secondary grades is seriously restricted; there is no girl in upper secondary grades in 159 districts.

Education Financing

The Government of Afghanistan is not in a position to fund all operating budgets from its revenues and has been dependent on international assistance to fill the gap. The expectation is that Afghanistan will continue to need international assistance for the coming three to five years to fill the shortfall in the operating budget. The development budget has been funded 100 percent by the international community, a situation that will continue into the future.

Indeed, the progress in access to education in Afghanistan so far has been made possible with the generous support of the donor community, the amount of which has increased over the past years. Due to lack of internal resources, donors’ contributions to education are preconditions for success in achieving the Education Interim Plan objectives and MDG and Education for All (EFA) goals. In order for the National Education Interim Plan to be successfully implemented, USD 3.25 billion is required (1.42 billion for the development budget and 1.83 billion for the operating budget over the next three years). The development funding should be fully aligned with the Interim Plan. If education does not receive the necessary resources, Afghanistan will face delays in achieving its commitments to the MDGs and EFA goals.

The demand for education in Afghanistan has increased significantly, and the Government of Afghanistan has taken a multifaceted approach to meet this demand. This includes the provision of education by the private sector, which now provides pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary, and vocational training. Afghan businesses are also paying for construction of schools and provision of school supplies. Communities have also contributed by providing land or free labor for the construction of school buildings. A cross sector approach has permitted communities to prioritize education and direct development funds from other areas, for example, accessing funds through the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) National Solidarity Programme, the Afghanistan Stabilization Programme or the counter narcotics fund.

In March 2011, Afghanistan became a developing country partner of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which represents significant international endorsement of the Government’s plans and capacity to achieve the Education for All goals and is seen as a critical milestone in the development of its education sector. The  Global Partnership for Education fund will provide USD 55.7 million for the Afghan Government to promote education quality in the war-torn country. The programme targets 55 districts in 13 provinces that are characterized by high rates of poverty, remoteness, harsh terrain, low population density, insecurity, and conservative social attitudes, particularly towards the education of girls. Gender disparities are particularly pronounced in all of these districts. As such, the GPE Programme focuses on the most disadvantaged children in Afghanistan and is aligned with GPE strategic areas.

Promoting Peace through Quality Education

For the first time in the history of Afghanistan textbooks on Life Skills were developed for grades one to three in 2004- 2006. These textbooks cover issues related to peace with oneself such as emotional intelligence and peace with others such as problem-solving, decision-making, conflict resolution and reconciliation skills. Also, peace, psycho-social well-being, non-violence and reconciliation-related topics were incorporated into language, social and religious textbooks. The teacher education package on pedagogy includes sessions on diversity, fear-free classrooms and justice in the classroom.

Through these initiatives, over 7 million children are being provided with awareness and education on importance of peace building and living in peace; and through children, peace awareness is being raised in nearly all families in Afghanistan. Schools have been serving as the platform for bringing together people from different social groups to discuss the education for their children, and meanwhile have facilitated dialogues and interactions among community members on peace and security in the community.

The Government of Afghanistan is committed to promoting peace by providing quality education to all children and teaching them tolerance, mutual respect, and how to live peacefully with each other.


UNDP Afghanistan, Afghanistan MDGs overview. Available at: <http://www.undp.org.af/undp/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&Itemid=68>

UN, MDG Report 2012, Foreword, New York, 2012, p.3.

Ministry of Education, Afghanistan, Response to EFA Global Monitoring Report – 2011.

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Fair access of children to education in Afghanistan, Kabul, September 2009.

The Holy Quran, Surat Al-Alaq, Aya 3-5. See: www.alseraj.net/maktaba/kotob/english/quran/TheLight/.../96_1-5.htm

Ministry of Education, Response to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report – 2011, Kabul, 2012.


Ministry of Education, 1390/2011 Annual Progress Report. Kabul, 2011.




Ministry of Education, Response to EFA Global Monitoring Report - 2011



Ministry of Education, Response to EFA Global Monitoring Report - 2011



Perú avanzó algo, pero no lo suficiente

La inequidad reina en Perú, donde la riqueza crece y la pobreza se maquilla <br> El avance de Perú hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio no ha sido suficiente para cumplir con todas las metas ni para afianzar su sustentabilidad, señala la coalición peruana de Social Watch en su evaluación sobre las políticas públicas y los compromisos internacionales.


La inequidad reina en Perú, donde la riqueza crece y la pobreza se maquilla

El avance de Perú hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio no ha sido suficiente para cumplir con todas las metas ni para afianzar su sustentabilidad, señala la coalición peruana de Social Watch en su evaluación sobre las políticas públicas y los compromisos internacionales.

Si bien el crecimiento económico ha sido importante en lo que va del siglo XXI, la falta de un seguimiento y monitoreo adecuado por parte de la ciudadanía hace que las políticas antipobreza no tengan el mismo dinamismo y no ataquen los problemas de fondo, como la concentración en la propiedad de la tierra rural y urbana y los impuestos regresivos.

Si bien, se han reducido la desnutrición y la mortalidad infantil y la materna, entre otros progresos, estos avances deberían ser mayores si se toma en cuenta que el presupuesto del Estado se ha triplicado en un decenio. "Millones de hogares pobres dependen de las transferencias estatales; y aunque es evidente que se ha logrado mejorar ciertos indicadores sociales, la perdurabilidad de esos resultados es dudosa".

Mientras las reivindicaciones de corto plazo abrevan la conflictividad en los sectores más pobres y la riqueza de grandes empresarios y latifundistas se expande, el gobierno ha limitado su programa social al asistencialismo y ha carecido de una política de empleo, así como de voluntad para enfrentarse con los grupos económicos más poderosos, escribió la experta Martha Milagros Varela Gómez, integrante de la red peruana de Social Watch y autora del informe nacional.

Varela Gómez indicó que “las reservas internacionales crecen sin cesar”, hay “mucho dinero en circulación”, se expanden “los bancos, el comercio minorista, el crédito y el dinero plástico”, lo cual “alienta la adicción al consumo” entre los pobres, “al tiempo que la delincuencia y el tráfico de drogas y personas se incrementan”. Perú es hoy “el mayor productor mundial de cocaína” y “los casinos, la minería informal y el contrabando son negocios exitosos que le abren paso a una nueva burguesía”.

El informe destaca un “crecimiento (económico) sostenido desde el año 2000 con un promedio de 6% anual y una disminución estadística de la pobreza, también sostenida” de 52% en 1990 a 27% en 2011, así como “la caída significativa de la desnutrición crónica infantil (hoy en 19,5%) y también la disminución, aunque modesta, de la mortalidad materna”. Millones de hogares pobres dependen de las transferencias estatales; y aunque es evidente que se ha logrado mejorar ciertos indicadores sociales, la perdurabilidad de esos resultados es dudosa.

Sin embargo, “después de Brasil, Perú es el segundo país con mayor incidencia de tuberculosis en la región (…)”, mientras la “abismal” desigualdad económica y social “se mantiene y profundiza” entre “regiones pobres y no pobres; entre costa, sierra y selva, ciudad y campo; o entre barrios ricos y pobres de las mismas ciudades. La riqueza se sigue concentrando. La discriminación étnica, racial y de género persiste, separando clínicas privadas para ricos y hospitales para pobres, escuelas y universidades privadas y escuelas y universidades públicas”, sostiene el informe.

“Los éxitos han sido logrados gracias a una expansión de los servicios públicos de salud y de asistencia social. No se puede afirmar lo mismo de la educación, donde la precariedad de la escuela pública continúa siendo un problema lacerante (…). El presupuesto del sector público, que ascendía a 10.000 millones de dólares en 2000, sobrepasa ahora los 30.000 millones. (…) Emergen nuevas clases medias y grupos empresariales nacionales”, agrega Social Watch.

“Pero las tareas grandes, aquellas que pueden hacer este crecimiento sostenible, están abandonadas”, según el informe. “Las políticas ambientales existen solo en los documentos oficiales, no hay políticas de empleo, la producción agrícola de alimentos continúa abandonada. El pragmatismo de políticos y gobernantes incapaces de enfrentarse con los privilegios que custodian con agresividad los ricos conservadores es el obstáculo más grande para que se discutan realmente los temas de fondo relativos a la justicia económica y social.”

Entre las tareas pendientes, Varela Gómez resaltó “una distribución de la propiedad rural y urbana (hay nuevos latifundios formados para producir biocombustibles que sobrepasan las 50.000 hectáreas); una distribución de los ingresos actualmente concentrados en grandes empresas y sus ejecutivos; una reforma tributaria basada sobre impuestos directos universales y la reducción de los indirectos; el apoyo sostenido a las más de tres millones de microempresas. Y, en general, un ordenamiento del país bajo normas de sostenibilidad ambiental.”


Political rows, insecurity and lack of data hinder development efforts

During the last 10 years, Iraq has undergone dramatic changes of rulers, but the much-expected transition to democracy failed to pave the way for development. Although the government issued in 2009 a strategy for poverty reduction, the efforts, resources and following-up have not been enough to see noticeable results on the ground.

Manal J. Putros Behnam
Iraqi Al Amal Association

During the last 10 years, Iraq has undergone dramatic changes of rulers, but the much-expected transition to democracy failed to pave the way for development. Political disputes, security challenges, and corruption have hindered the stability required for development. Quality of life has fallen: poverty stays firmly, the educational system draws back and women are becoming more and more vulnerable. The inequities persist between cities and rural areas and between men and women. Although the government issued in 2009 a strategy for poverty reduction, the efforts, resources and following-up have not been enough to see noticeable results on the ground.

To get on the right track, the Iraqi government must conduct the census that has been delayed since in 2007, to collect reliable information for the design of comprehensive, effective and appropriately funded development plans.

Poverty, a multidimensional phenomenon

Iraq is not a poor nation, but much of its population suffers poverty. The standard of living of this middle-income country declined over the last 25 years. There is a wide gap between the economics at a national level and the social reality experienced by Iraqi citizens. Anyway, the gross domestic product per person declined by a third between 1980 and 2006, from about USD 3,000 to USD 2,000, according to the World Bank. But the most “striking” data “is not just the decline, but also that reversal in growth stands in contrast to every other country in the Middle East and North Africa region,” remarks the World Bank report “Confronting poverty in Iraq”. As an example of this fall, the study also notes that “primary school enrollment, an area in which Iraq once led the region, declined over the past 25 years in Iraq while rising in every other countries of the region.”

The National Strategy for Poverty Reduction (NSPRI) issued in 2009 at the same time of the National Development Plan covers crucial points of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is aimed to promote the well-being of the Iraqi poor, with the general goal of reducing poverty rate from the current 22.9% to 16% in 2014 by achieving the following six basic outcomes:

1. Achieving a higher income from work for the poor
2. Improving the health standard of the poor
3. Dissemination and improving education of the poor
4. Achieving a better housing environment for the poor
5. Effective social protection for the poor
6. Less inequality between poor women and men

But the government institutions failed to implement appropriate policies and measures to reach those goals. There were no clear indicators to achieve the required outcomes so government has extended the work in some of these strategies up to 2017.

NSPRI planners stated that although two-third of the population live in cities, half of the poor people reside in rural areas. There are other relevant gaps between governorates, notes the NSPRI: over 40% of the inhabitants of some of them are poor (Muthanna, 49%; Babil, 41%; Salahuddin, 40%), while the proportion falls to 10% in the Kurdistan Region. Disparities in expenditure are lower than disparities in income: the richer quintile of households gets 43% of the total national income and the poorer quintile gets 7%, while the richer households spend 39% of the total expenditure and the poorest spend 9%.

The planners also noted a weak correlation between poverty and unemployment. Poverty rate has reached 39% in rural areas and 16% in urban areas, but unemployment gets to 11% in the countryside and to 12% in the cities. This gap can respond to the links between poverty and low salaries, because of the fact that workers constitute 89% of the labor force in rural areas due to the drop in productivity [1].These figures based on pilot sample survey, the real figures are expected to be higher than that.

Education draws back

One out of five Iraqis between 10 and 49 years old cannot read or write, according to the Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit established by the UN to improve the impact of the humanitarian and development response in Iraq. “Literacy impacts every facet of life”, and affects critically “employment, health, civic participation and social attitudes,” reads a report issued by the Unit in 2010.

In this matter there are also “significant disparities” between women and men (24% to 11%) and between rural and urban areas (25% to 14%), and in the countryside the gender gap is even wider [2] . Further, these figures could be doubled as did not include the percentage of people who cannot read and write easily, according to Iraqi Alamal Association in 2010(Survey to non formal education assessment in Iraq).

Decades of wars and years of humiliating blockade(1990-2003)against Iraqi citizen (not against the Saddam Hussein’s regime), followed after that for the persistent political instability, insecurity(especially displacement) , low standards of living and corruption have made up an accumulated process of decline that feeds illiteracy.

UN agencies and the government run various programs to promote literacy among children, young and adult persons, as well as other schemes that offer training for working and life skills. But those programs need following up and sustained support from the Iraqi educational institutions to achieve a visible decline in illiteracy rates. Local NGOs have also implemented many programs all over Iraq, but they are pilot projects, poorly funded or lacking of a proper networking.

 Women’s vulnerability increases

As a result of the wars fought by the former regime and what followed aftermath after the 2003 terrorist attacks, violence and displacement, the number of women who lost their breadwinner, either to imprisonment or loss, the percentage hitting, according to the report of the Ministry of Human Rights on the situation of Iraqi women to 10.7% of the proportion of households headed by women in Iraq . In addition the labor market indicated in the Iraq- Knowledge Network Report 2011(IKN) decrease in women’s participation in period 2003 to 2011, from 14.2% to 13% which show low participation for women in the economic activities. 

The statistics of government institutions, international agencies and civil society organizations defer. This unclearness makes the national census a very important task to evaluate women’s conditions of living. The International Organization for Migration confirmed in 2011 critical situations related to the access to work, food security, and housing conditions which make women headed households vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

The Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit [3]  stated in 2012 that early marriages “remain prevalent”, although they are illegal under 15 years of age and require special authorization from a judge between 15 and 18. But many girls between 11 and 15 years of age enter into marriages outside the court in religious communities. According to the integrated survey social and health conditions for Iraqi women 2011 (I Wish) , indicated that the children girls married under 15 years is 5% and children girls married under 18 years is 22%.Those girls sink into an illegal status that deprives them of education and health. On the other hand, tribal leaders justify the usual practice of forced marriages on traditional and cultural grounds.

Key information remains unknown

The lack of reliable information about the living conditions of the population put a brake on the development process, but the national census has been postponed four times since 2007 under the pretext of security concerns. The powerful political blocs have been delaying indefinitely the survey, although it is required by the article 140 of the Constitution to reach a settlement over the internal dispute areas, this will affect state budget allocations and the impact on provincial level quotas as well.

 In any case, the delay has prevented to reach an accurate assessment of the numbers of orphans and widows who need urgent help. Even so, there is no date scheduled for conducting the survey [4] ,

 Although all the technical and logistics preparation completed with spend large sums of money, but census stopped by a political will.

The scourge of financial and administrative corruption in Iraq is a critical issue to be highlighted as it is demolishing the rebuilding process and development, although there is a national strategy to combat corruption but still needs to be in harmony with the changes in social and political circumstances and the international standards.


In order to get on the right track towards achieving sustainable development, Iraq must focus in the following tasks in the short term:

- At the political level, the government institutions should design and put into practice comprehensive and smart policies to reduce poverty, improve the educational system and empower women. It is also needed to allocate appropriate budgetary resources to the development programs.

- The authorities must fight against corruption using well planned strategies.

- The census should be held as soon as possible, and its planners must set out specific questions to collect useful information for the design of development plans.

- Civil society must participate in the design of policies and strategies and be engaged in their implementation and following-up.


[1] National Strategy for poverty Reduction,2009

[2] Literacy in Iraq, Fact Sheet, 2010

[3] Women In Iraq, Fact sheet 2011

[4] http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2010/12/iraqs-census-put-off-again-for-fourth.html

the reality of Iraqi women since 2003 - Ministry of Human Rights for the year 2012

Men and women in Iraq - statistics development- Central Statistical Organization- Iraq

Central Statistical Organization- Iraq


Poverty and Inequality: After the rhetoric of the past, a look into the future

The Philippines’ economic growth rates have averaged at 4.7 per cent since 2000, but only the elite few are benefiting. In the meantime, poverty has increased, reaching to 26.5% in 2009. It is not so much the size of the economic growth, but its nature that matters. This Southeast Asian country must craft a post-2015 development agenda that reclaims human rights as the normative framework, especially ensuring the right to education, health and decent work, and addressing the long-standing inequalities. This includes completing the agrarian reform, imposing a progressive taxation system and revitalizing the manufacturing sector to ensure the creation of quality jobs. A new international financial architecture is required to provide adequate policy space for countries like the Philippines to independently chart its own development agenda.

By Marivic Raquiza

Social Watch Philippines

The Philippines’ economic growth rates have averaged at 5.1 per cent since 2000, but only the elite few are benefiting. In more recent years, economic growth has ranged from 6-7% so that now, the country is heralded as one of the more important emerging economies. In the meantime, poverty incidence has remained high, reaching 26.3% in 2009, 25.2% in 2012, and 24.9% in the first semester of 2013. As many analysts have argued, it is not so much the size of the economic growth, but its nature that matters. This means that if high growth rates are not accompanied with the creation of quality jobs, this means that the gains of economic growth only benefit a few. This Southeast Asian country must craft a post-2015 development agenda that sets human rights as the normative framework, especially ensuring the right to decent work, quality basic social services and addressing long-standing inequalities. This includes completing agrarian reform, developing a progressive taxation system and supporting the revitalization of the manufacturing sector for the creation of decent jobs. Furthermore, a new international financial architecture is required to provide adequate policy space for countries like the Philippines to independently chart its own development agenda.

The aspirations and the reality that unfolded

When the Philippine government signed the Millennium Declaration in 2000, the clear mandate was to significantly reduce poverty, improve access to social services and promote global cooperation along these lines. Furthermore, the overarching framework of the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan is ‘inclusive growth’, defined as ‘sustained, high growth that generates mass employment and reduces poverty’. According to President Aquino, this is to be accomplished by “improving transparency and accountability, strengthening the macro-economy, boosting the competitiveness of industries, facilitating infrastructure development, strengthening financial sector and capital mobilization, improving access to quality services, enhancing peace and security for development and ensuring ecological security.”

However, twelve years since the signing of the Millennium Declaration and three years into the Aquino presidency, the above stated goals generally remain elusive. With just about two years to go before the expiry date of the MDGs, no less than the United Nations has described the Philippines’ performance in that respect as dismal, an observation that hews closely to the views of civil society and social movements (see Social Watch Report, 2010). Despite these assessments, the government claims that the country is generally on track to achieving most of the MDG goals.

In particular, poverty incidence for the first time increased from 2003 at 24.9% to 26.6% in 2006 and then slightly decreased in 2009 to 26.3% and lowered a bit to 25.2% in 2012.

Self-rated poverty and hunger, as measured by the Social Weather Station, a private survey outfit, have registered peak levels in the first quarter of this year. According to the 2009 Small Area Poverty Estimates, poverty worsened in the Philippines in the years 2006 to 2009 for young people, migrants and formal sector workers (each with 1% increase), and children and individuals in urban areas (with 0.3% increase). The poorest people today are fisherfolk (41.4%), farmers (36.7%) and children (35.1%). This means that development in the last decade has not benefited those who need it most.

However, economic growth rates have remained fairly respectable, averaging at 5.1% per cent since 2000. Today, government is proud of improved assessments from international ratings agencies about its competitiveness. This leads us to certain conclusions. In the first place, it is not so much the size of the growth, but the nature of the growth that matters. In particular, it is clear that only the elite few are benefiting from economic growth. In 2011, GDP increased by US$17 billion; on the other hand, the collective wealth of the forty richest Filipinos rose by US$13 billion in the same year (or a collective 37.8% jump), as former government official Cielito Habito recently observed.

According to Habito, this means that the increased wealth of the country’s richest forty individuals is equivalent to the bulk —76.5 per cent or more than three fourths— of the country’s overall increase in income last year, reinforcing perceptions of an “oligarchic” economy. Little wonder why the country’s Gini co-efficient —at .44— is among the highest in the region.

Second, it is a kind of growth that is unaccompanied by the creation of jobs, much less decent work. The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) (2010) argues that employment is the single biggest source of income for most people. It is what keeps most individuals and families alive, and determines their ability to access a good life.  Unfortunately in the Philippines, employment, much less quality employment is not the reality for the majority of Filipinos.

According to the ILO Global Employment Trends , the Philippine unemployment rate in 2013 stood at 7.3%, the highest compared to neighboring countries like Thailand at 0.8%, Vietnam at 1.9%, Malaysia at 3.2%, and Indonesia at 6%.

Furthermore, the 7% unemployment rate has stagnated in the last five years, underscoring the fact that this indicator is not sensitive to changes in labor trends because the country’s labor force is significantly composed of self-employed workers and unpaid family workers (Raquiza, 2010). In countries like the Philippines where most people do not have adequate access to social protection, the majority of people have no recourse but to work in order to survive (ibid).

It is in this context that the underemployment rate is the more meaningful indicator. The underemployment rate has generally been high in the Philippines, registering a high average of 19.25% in the last ten years. In October of 2013, it still posted a considerably high 18.1% which means that Filipinos are working doubly, or triply harder, in order to make ends meet. The underemployed constitutes a significant part of the working poor in the country as of the 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), and can mostly be found in the agriculture, forestry and hunting sector.

However, it is not just access to jobs but quality jobs that allows people to combat poverty. One can have a job but be part of that category referred to as the ‘working poor.’

Because of the bleak employment scenario, some eight million Filipinos have opted to work overseas. Their earnings, sent back to the country in the form of remittances at around USD 20 billion annually, drive consumption spending in the country. Overseas remittances benefit families at the higher end of the economic ladder, underscoring how overseas labor migration exacerbates inequalities in the country (Raquiza, 2010). Furthermore, it must be noted that there are social costs implications with the exodus of labor from the country (e.g., children growing up without a parent), as well as the creation of a brain drain to the economy. 

The long-time phenomenon of jobless growth has continued under the Aquino administration.

What went wrong?

Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap’ (‘if no one is corrupt, no one will be poor’) was the battlecry of the Aquino administration as it came to power in June 2010. Three years after, the vaunted anti-corruption campaign of the Aquino administration is now seriously in doubt in light of recent corruption scandals that have been exposed in media, implicating the closest allies of the President, if not the President himself. How this will play out remains to be seen as President Aquino has less than three years left in office.

However, providing access to decent work remains as elusive as ever. The manufacturing sector is generally seen as being able to provide decent work. Indeed, the labor-intensive nature of the manufacturing sector has high employment potential, including for the less-skilled workers. Yet, a look at the structure of the Philippine economy point to a shrinking agriculture sector (from 25.1% of GDP in 1980, to 13.1% in 2009 to 12.8% in 2011), a declining manufacturing sector (from 25.7% of GDP in 1980, to 21.3% in 2009, and 19.4% in 2011) and a burgeoning services sector (from 36.1% of GDP in 1980 to 55.2% in 2009, and 55.7% in 2011).

The Philippines saw the dismantling of the manufacturing sector in the eighties due to the debt crisis that made it very difficult to import inputs needed by local industries. Furthermore, the manufacturing sector has been on a decline because it “has not benefited from intra-regional trade because the country is stuck in low-value added industries such as semiconductors and assembly-type activities”, according to Rafaelita Aldaba of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS). Simply put, the Philippines generally imports parts and reassembles these for exports with low value-added in the process. Joseph Yap, also of PIDS, further states that “while trade in parts and components in manufacturing goods has been increasing in the Southeast Asian region, the contribution of the country’s manufacturing sector to the total economic output has deteriorated”(ibid). Citing UN data, he observed that the share of manufacturing in the Philippine GDP declined to 21.4% in 2010 from 27.7% in 1980. For Filipino women, this means that the manufacturing sector, unlike in the 70s and 80s, ceased being a source of employment for them and they have since turned to trade and services, as well as domestic work in households (Raquiza, 2010). In 2013, there was a reported increase in the output of the manufacturing sector but whether this can be sustained, especially in light of the upcoming ASEAN integration by 2015 remains to be seen.

The President, in his 2012 State of the Nation Address, points to the Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs), or more specifically call centers and allied industries, as important sources for job creation. The reality though is that, while providing much revenues into Philippine coffers (to the tune of USD 9 billion in 2010), call centers only contribute one percent to Philippine employment given its focus on skilled labor.

Generally speaking, the government’s development strategy is essentially “business as usual” which is to say, that of re ‘growing the pie’, so to speak, with the implicit assumption that when this happens, jobs will be created, and poverty will be reduced. In such a scenario, privatization is the preferred mode of the delivery of goods and services so that the role of the private sector is enhanced through public-private partnerships (PPP).  This has been the case since the post-Marcos regime and the evidence point to a weakened public sector in the delivery of goods and services like in health and education, and that the provision of basic utilities like electricity, fuel and water, are privatized, and remain expensive.

In terms of social policy, the government has placed a premium on the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (Pantawid Pamilya), a conditional cash transfer program patterned after those implemented in Mexico, Brazil and other countries. The lion’s share of social protection spending in the national budget is devoted to Pantawid Pamilya, where allocation has been dramatically increasing every year since the program started in 2007, while the budget for other pro-poor programs has suffered by comparison.

The Pantawid Pamilya is a demand-side intervention to increase access to education and health services to poor children and pregnant mothers. A study conducted by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) however shows that the majority of health and education centers in Pantawid Pamilya sites do not pass the quality benchmarks imposed by the Department of Health and Department of Education, raising serious questions about the quality of services provided in CCT areas. For as long as the supply-side aspects are not addressed, investing huge amounts of funds constitute a huge resource leakage and waste of public resources on the part of the national government. Furthermore, part of Pantawid Pamilya’s funding are loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which raises questions about its financial sustainability.

A small study conducted by Social Watch Philippines (SWP) among Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries reveal that while the latter are grateful for the conditional cash grants, they believe that what will generally get them out of poverty is access to jobs. Indeed, in an attempt to respond to the popular critique of Pantawid Pamilya that it is de-linked from job provision, program planners are currently linking it up with livelihood programs. However, the efficacy of these programs bears watching. As of this writing, program planners of the Pantawid Pamilya admit that they have yet to finalize a clear exit strategy to this five year program. The main question remains: after five years, will beneficiaries exit from poverty or merely from the program? For as long as access to sustained employment in general, and decent work in particular, is not part of the equation of Pantawid Pamilya, public skepticism abounds about its effectiveness as a pro-poor program. Indeed, this very expensive program which has been in existence since 2007/2008 has yet to make a dent in reducing poverty.

In the meantime, universal access to quality education and healthcare remain elusive goals, especially given the perennial problem of underinvestment. It is worth asking: would education and health outcomes be better served by significantly increasing the budgets of the departments of education and health rather than simply through CCT?

Finally, promoting the progressive realization of universal social protection needs to be amplified in light of government’s pre-occupation with narrow targeting approaches which are riddled with exclusion (those who should benefit are not targeted and are therefore excluded from pro-poor programs) and inclusion (those who should not benefit are targeted and are therefore included) errors, and other attendant problems.

The Post-2015 development agenda: another chance at getting it right

The starting point in crafting a post-2015 Philippine development agenda l is in using human rights as the normative framework in the articulation of policies, strategies and programs. And grassroots movements for social change comprised of poor and marginalized women, men and children, regardless of age, ethnicity, (dis)ability, sexual orientation, and geographic location should be one of the key drivers in developing the post-2015 Philippine development agenda. At the core of people's participation is building their potentials and capacities —whether they be children, youth or adults.

To address long-standing inequalities in the country, redistribution and affirmative action must take center stage. This includes the long-standing quest for social justice by completing the agrarian reform program. Unfortunately, this quest is beyond reach more than ever as the newly created Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA) recently scored the current administration’s dismal performance on agrarian reform, charging that it has the worst implementation rate, accompanied by rampant land conversion from agricultural to commercial lands. Asset reform, including the need to reform the tax system to make it more progressive, are urgently needed. Financing these reforms must come from revenues generated from more progressive taxation system—meaning prioritizing direct over indirect taxation, and taxing more affluent spending, to name a few measures.

Consistent with the demand of poor women and men for sustained access to decent jobs, there is an urgent need to make job creation central in the development agenda and to revitalize the manufacturing sector. This underscores the need for structural change in favor of the more dynamic sectors and that will help ensure the creation of quality jobs (United Nations Institute for Social Development, 2010). This also means pushing for reforms in the international economic and financial architecture so that adequate policy space will be opened up for countries like the Philippines to independently chart its own development agenda. In terms of climate change, while acknowledging that the Philippines’ contribution to greenhouse gas emissions lies in the vicinity of 1%, any forthcoming industrial policy must be consistent with a low-carbon path of development.

Furthermore, it must be recognized that the majority of poor women and men remain in the agricultural sector. As such, considerable investments must be made to increase the incomes and productivity of small producers through credit facilities, irrigation, farm to market roads, and the like. It is also important for farmers and fisherfolk to have access to non-farm incomes. Also, rural women must be provided with the necessary support facilities (e.g., daycare centers) and capacity-building activities in order to have greater access to sustainable livelihoods and employment.

Finally, as the poorest peoples are those located in conflict areas, and are socially excluded due to differences in culture, language, and the like, the post-2015 development agenda must include peace building and the promotion of cultural diversity. In real terms, this means addressing the historical injustice committed against indigenous peoples and the Muslims, and respecting their right to self-determination.


Habito, Cielito (2012). Economic Growth for All, in No Free Lunch column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://opinion.inquirer.net/31439/economic-growth-for-all. Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2012.

InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5 (2012). Manufacturing revival key to Philippine economic growth - ADB report. http://www.interaksyon.com/business/29747/manufacturing-revival-key-to-philippine-economic-growth---adb-report  Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2012.

International Labour Organization (27 May, 2014). Where is the unemployment rate the highest? http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/global-employment-trends/2014/WCMS_233936/lang--en/index.htm. Retrieved on June 4, 2014.

Raquiza, Marivic (2010). On Poverty, hunger and employment: Off-track but not without hope. in Winning the Numbers, Losing the War’, the other MDG Report 2010, Social Watch Philippines: Quezon City.

United Nations Institute for Social Development (2010). Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics. UNRISD: Geneva, Switzerland.

Habito, Cielito (2012). Economic Growth for All, in No Free Lunch column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://opinion.inquirer.net/31439/economic-growth-for-all. Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2012.

International Labour Organization (27 May, 2014). Where is the unemployment rate the highest? http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/global-employment-trends/2014/WCMS_233936/lang--en/index.htm. Retrieved on June 4, 2014.

Note that the average unemployment rate from 2002 to first half of 2012 is 8.76%

InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5 (2012). Manufacturing revival key to Philippine economic growth - ADB report. http://www.interaksyon.com/business/29747/manufacturing-revival-key-to-philippine-economic-growth---adb-report  Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2012.


Poverty reduction initiatives continue questionable

Tanzania is endowed with abundant natural resources but lacks mechanisms for utilizing them effectively for micro and macro development. Invitation to foreign and local companies to invest in key economic sectors is yet to yield expected results. For instance, incentives and tax evasions are so high. The government is therefore urged to diversify the economy and find more viable and alternative sources of revenues for economic development.

Adv. Armando Swenya and Martina M. Kabisama (SAHRiNGON Tanzania Chapter); Adv. Clarence KIPOBOTA (LEDECO Advocates)and Jaba Shadrack (Asst. Lecturer, School of Law, University of Dar es Salaam)

Since early 2000s, the United Republic of Tanzania signed and therefore committed itself to implement the eight MDGs.  Implementation of these Millennium Development Goals has been made at different levels by formulating and adopting initiatives and strategies aimed at reducing poverty and to improve living standards. These initiatives include the adoption of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) popularly known as “Mpango wa Kukuza Uchumi na Kupunguza Umasikini Tanzania (‘MKUKUTA’)”, this is mainly for Mainland Tanzania and Poverty Reduction Strategy for Zanzibar popularly known as “Mpango wa Kupunguza Umaskini Zanzibar (‘MKUZA’. Other initiatives for poverty reduction in Tanzania includes Development Vision 2025 (for Mainland Tanzania), Vision 2020 (for Zanzibar), Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture first) and The Five Years Development Plan 2011/2012-2015/2016. These strategies were mainly adopted to promote growth and reduce income poverty among Tanzanians, also to enhance social wellbeing, the quality of life, governance and accountability.

Thus, this report makes analysis of challenges that Tanzania face in implementing the adopted initiatives against causes for [the] challenges and suggesting alternative solutions to be taken in reducing or eradicating poverty in Tanzania.

Economic Background in Tanzania

The Tanzania Gross Domestic Product (GDP) experienced a slight increase between 1998 and 2008. Per capita GDP increased from USD 323 in 2001 to USD 440 in 2008. Despite the slight GDP growth recorded, the country’s poverty margin is still enormous as about 75% of Tanzanians are poor farmers living in rural areas. Again, 1/3 of Tanzanians still live below the basic need poverty line i.e. spend less than 1 USD per day. Generally, poverty rates is higher in rural areas (37.6%) compared with large cities like Dar es Salaam (16.6%). 

Poverty Reduction Initiatives

The government of Tanzania has undergone different policies including the NSGRP, popularly known as MKUKUTA was approved by the Cabinet in February 2005 for implementation in five years. Essentially, the MKUKUTA strategy is designed in three clusters, namely MKUKUTA I, II and III. The MKUKUTA clusters’ envisaged outcomes are:

  1. Growth and reduction of income poverty;
  2. Improvement of quality of life and social wellbeing; and
  3. Good governance and accountability.

The MKUKUTA is informed by Vision 2025 and committed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MKUKUTA aims at fostering greater collaboration among all sectors and stakeholders. It has mainstreamed cross-cutting issues i.e. gender, environment, HIV/AIDs, disability, children, youth, elderly, employment and settlements. The strategy seeks to deepen ownership and inclusion in policy making processes, paying attention to address laws and customs that retard development and negatively affect vulnerable groups. It requires increased resources and the national budget be aligned to MKUKUTA with direct links to the public expenditure review.

Rudimentary Agriculture

The Tanzania agriculture sector is dominated by small scale farmers. About 70% of farming is dependent on hand hoes, 20% on ploughs, and only 10% on tractors. Notwithstanding the exposed weakness, the agriculture sector has been identified as a growth driver or the backbone of Tanzanian economy.

Tanzania has diverse climatic zones and large size of arable land potential for crops cultivation, livestock and forestry products and sufficient water bodies for irrigation. Thus, given agriculture sector’s role in supporting the rural poor and in reducing malnutrition, if prioritized, it would have been a driving force in lifting Tanzanians out of poverty.

The Kilimo Kwanza Strategy

The Kilimo Kwanza initiative is a green revolution strategy that was launched in August 2009. Basically, it aims at spearheading government efforts in bringing about Agriculture revolution in the country.

Basing on contribution to the economy, agriculture is one of the leading sectors in Tanzanian economy. It contributes substantially to the GDP to about 1/5 of foreign earnings and support livelihoods of more than 2/3 of the population.

3.1. Ten Pillars of Kilimo Kwanza

The Kilimo Kwanza was designed to be implemented on the basis of ten pillars namely; (i) political will to push agricultural transformation, (ii) enhanced financing for agriculture, (iii) institutional reorganisation and management of agriculture, (iv) paradigm shift to strategic agricultural production, (v) land availability for agriculture, (vi) incentives to stimulate investments in agriculture, (vii) industrialisation for agricultural transformation, (viii) science, technology and human resources to support agricultural transformation, (ix) infrastructure development to support agricultural transformation, and (x) mobilisation of Tanzanians to support and participate in implementing Kilimo Kwanza.

The Kilimo Kwanza policy vision is to achieve agricultural development through; policies and institutional reforms, infrastructure development especially rural roads, use of modern technology, extension services, irrigation systems, market access, reform of the land laws and advocating for investment in agro-processing sector/industry.

3.2. Challenge Facing Kilimo Kwanza

3.2.1 Rudimentary Agriculture

Agriculture is still dominated by small scale farming. About 70% of farming is dependent on hand hoes, 20% on ploughs, and 10% on tractors. Notwithstanding the exposed weakness, the agriculture sector has been identified as a growth driver.

NB: see, item 2.3.8 (p.15, above)

Fig 1: Distribution of Equipment Used in Agriculture in Tanzania

Source: KILIMO KWANZA, Annual Policy Dialogue, Dar es Salaam, November, 2009

3.2.1 Poor Agricultural Technology

Low level of technology, excessive reliance on rain-fed agriculture, insufficient agricultural extension services, low labour productivity, deficient transportation and marketing infrastructure and facilities are the major constraints impeding rapid growth of the sector. Tanzania uses only 9Kg fertilizer per hectare and only 10% of farmers use improved seeds.

Again, the total Livestock population reared by smallholders in Tanzania is 37.06 million of which 18.8 million are cattle, 13.1 million goats, 3.56 million sheep and 1.6 million pigs. The poultry population is estimated at 33.3 million. The current challenges in the sector include animal diseases, poor infrastructure and lack of reliable markets, investments and processing industries.

Fig 2: Quantities of Fertilizers Consumptions in Some Selected Countries Compared with Tanzania

Source: KILIMO KWANZA, Annual Policy Dialogue, Dar es Salaam, November, 2009

3.2.4. Limited Capital and Access to Financial Services

Farmers engaging in Kilimo Kwanza initiative face the problem of financial capital; this is due to hierarchical loan processing among financial institutions. Farmers fail to access loans from financial institutions, especially banks, due to difficult conditions and exploitative loan interest rate.

Fig. 3: Banks – Domestic Lending from Dec 2004 - 2008 (Billions of TZS)

Source: KILIMO KWANZA, Annual Policy Dialogue, Dar es Salaam, November, 2009


3.3. Indicators for the Failure of the Kilimo Kwanza Initiative

  1. Low productivity of land, labour and other inputs.
  2. Underdeveloped irrigation schemes.
  3. Inadequate agricultural technical support services.
  4. Poor rural infrastructure hindering effective rural-urban linkages.
  5. Infections and outbreaks of crop, animal pests and diseases.
  6. Erosion of national resources base and environmental degradation.
  7. Lack of entrepreneurial skills to turn non-farm activities into viable sources of livelihoods and foreign exchange.
  8. Land conflicts due to poor enforcement of land laws and policies.

3.4. Proposed Way Forward for Kilimo Kwanza

Productivity and growth in agriculture may be boosted by:

  1. Improvements of rural road networks and irrigation infrastructure, including rain water harvesting;
  2. Improvements of storage facilities for agricultural crops and livestock products;
  3. Assistance of farmers in identifying reliable markets;
  4. Strengthening the capacity of the Strategic Grain Reserve to buy and store sufficient grains consistent with national food requirements;
  5. Ensuring timely availability of inputs for arable agriculture and livestock farming, including improved seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and veterinary medicines, and to ensure that the Agricultural Input Fund is sufficiently funded;
  6. Giving priority in the allocation of farm implements and other inputs to the major food crop production regions i.e. Mbeya, Ruvuma, Rukwa, Iringa, Morogoro and Kigoma;
  7. Identifying and surveying land for large-scale food crop farming so as to take advantage of existing opportunity in both local, regional and world markets’ demands;
  8. Supporting research institutions to develop improved/genetic-modified seeds and encourage other institutions to scale-up seed production;
  9. Reduction of unsustainable forest harvesting;
  10. Establishing or reviving agro-processing industries, with private sector participation;
  11. Improving access to credit and fast-track setting up of a special window for lending to agricultural ventures through the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB); and
  12. Establishment of Agricultural Development Bank.

Recommendations and Concluding Remarks

Tanzania is endowed with abundant natural resources but lacks mechanisms for utilizing them effectively for micro and macro development. Invitation to foreign and local companies to invest in key economic sectors is yet to yield expected results, for instance, incentives and tax evasions are so high. Therefore, little is obtained to enhance the national income. The government is therefore urged to diversify the economy and find more viable and alternative sources of revenues for economic development.


Programas sociales exitosos, pero económicamente insostenibles

Ya transcurrieron más de tres años desde el inicio del primer gobierno de izquierda en El Salvador, a cargo del Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN). Su eje ha sido la ejecución de diversos planes de apoyo a sectores históricamente excluidos, como los adultos mayores, las mujeres, las niñas y niños y la población rural. Las mejoras en materia de salud y de educación son notorias, pero también lo es la necesidad de cambios estructurales, como una reforma fiscal que permita financiar con recursos propios programas sociales que dependen de fondos procedentes del exterior. Es un desafío clave para dotar de sustentabilidad a los avances logrados en este país tan sensible a los vaivenes económicos internacionales.

Social Watch El Salvador
Mario Paniagua

Scarlett Cortez
Ana María Galdámez

En El Salvador, ya finalizó el primer gobierno de izquierda, a cargo del Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN). Su eje ha sido la ejecución de diversos planes de apoyo a sectores históricamente excluidos, como los adultos mayores, las mujeres, las niñas, los niños y la población rural. Las mejoras en materia de salud y de educación son notorias, pero también lo es la necesidad de cambios estructurales, como una reforma fiscal que permita financiar con recursos propios programas sociales que dependen de fondos procedentes del exterior. Es un desafío clave para dotar de sustentabilidad a los avances logrados en este país tan sensible a los vaivenes económicos internacionales.

La Educación avanza

Uno de los programas más exitosos en la rama educativa ha sido el Plan Social Educativo “Vamos a la Escuela” implementado desde el año 2009, este ha representado importantes avances en la calidad y el acceso a la educación para todas y todos. [2]

El principal logro que se puede destacar de este Plan es el Programa de Paquetes Escolares, que beneficia a 1,386,767 estudiantes desde parvularia hasta 9º grado  y que además dinamizan la economía de la población, al generar actividades productivas para 5,000 MIPYMES y 50,000 empleos. Otros programas importantes en esta línea educativa de equidad son la ampliación del Programa de Alimentación y Salud Escolar (PASE) a nivel de educación media y de los Centros Educativos de las zonas urbanas del país, este programa ha beneficiado a 1,339,726 estudiantes con alimentos de 4,960 Centros Escolares y 233 Centros de Atención Inicial del ISNA. A esto hay que agregarle la realización del Programa Presidencial del “Vaso de Leche” que durante el 2012 beneficio a 500,000 estudiantes de 1,490 escuelas del Occidente, Centro y Norte del país, con un vaso de leche líquida 2 veces por semana.

Otro logro importante es la creación y la expansión del modelo de Escuela Inclusiva de Tiempo Pleno (EITP) que se ha convertido en el eje articulador y coordinador de todos los programas educativos que orienta la nueva propuesta organizativa de Sistemas Integrados, que aglutinan Centros de Estudios de una zona definida para optimizar recursos y ampliar la oferta de 9º y Bachillerato. Desarrolla un modelo pedagógico basado en metodologías activas más allá de las aulas y promueven un aprendizaje significativo a nivel de la ciencia y la tecnología, ayuda a construir una visión crítica y transformadora de la realidad, promueve actividades artísticas y deportivas que contribuyen a prevenir la violencia y a cohesionar las comunidades de entorno.

El modelo EITP ha tenido avances sustanciales, este modelo se inició en el 2011 con 22 Escuelas, en las modalidades Clásico y Post Escuela, hoy en el 2013, se tiene la participación de 145 Centros Escolares en experiencias “piloto” bajo el enfoque de EITP, que permite configurar los primeros 8 Sistemas Integrados de EITP en 3 municipios del país (85 Centros Escolares) y beneficiar a 50,608 estudiantes con metodologías activas en tiempo extendido en 55 municipios del país; el MINED se proyecta incorporar 1,369 escuelas a nivel nacional, configurando 159 sistemas integrados en 57 municipios.

El presupuesto para educación en estos últimos años ha tenido incrementos significativos, para este años 2014 se asignó un presupuesto de $885.5 millones, $21.6 millones más que el año anterior que fue de $863.9, para el 2012 fue de $790.8 millones. Esos recursos fueron orientados a impulsar el acceso equitativo y la permanencia de niñas, niños, jóvenes y adultos en el sistema escolar, a adecuar el currículo con aprendizajes significativos, a impulsar la investigación, la ciencia y la tecnología, a potenciar la formación permanente de la población y a dignificar al magisterio, entre otras tareas.

Las cifras de acceso a la educación ha aumentado, en el año 1991 la tasa neta de cobertura de educación primaria era de 75.5% de la población, mientras que el año 2012 se ubicó en un 93.7%, se avanzó en casi 20 puntos porcentuales en todos estos años. [3]

En 1991 el 85.2% de la población en edad productiva estaba alfabetizada, en el año 2012 esta tasa se ubica en 97.1%. Durante los últimos cuatro años, el Gobierno logró reducir en cinco puntos porcentuales el analfabetismo.

En cuanto a la tasa de supervivencia al Sexto grado, es decir la finalización de la educación primaria, se observa un incremento significativo, pues el porcentaje de alumnos que inician Primer grado y finalizan Sexto grado aumentó de 52.6% en 1991 a 83.9% en 2011.

Al analizar estos datos es necesario reconocer los avances logrados en los ODM 1 y 2 pero, si bien se ha reducido el nivel de pobreza (según los estándares actuales de medición) y mejorado la cobertura en educación, hay que seguir apostándole a estos indicadores, así como a mejorar la calidad educativa y tener mejores resultados en los indicadores de erradicación de la pobreza para lograr un crecimiento de país que sea justo e integral.

Las y los estudiantes han sido blanco de la violencia que afecta el país, según datos del Ministerio de Educación en los últimos cuatro años se reportaron 289 homicidios de estudiantes.

En el 2010, de acuerdo a cifras presentadas por Educación, hubo 55 estudiantes asesinados. En 2011, los casos aumentaron a 139. En 2012, año de la tregua entre pandillas, bajaron a 67 y el año 2013 fueron 28.
Las autoridades también informaron que en 2013 se reportaron 83 casos de agresiones a miembros de la comunidad educativa: estudiantes, docentes, directivos y padres de familia. Específicamente, se trató de ocho amenazas, dos desaparecidos, seis detenciones, 28 homicidios, seis hurtos, cinco casos de lesiones, un robo y un caso de violación.

La salud, desfinanciada

Aunque en 2011 se registraron mejoras en los indicadores oficiales de cobertura de los servicios de salud, muchas de las estrategias implementadas no tienen garantizada su continuidad, ya que dependen de fondos externos.

En los últimos años, el presupuesto asignado al Ministerio de Salud (MINSAL) ha tenido una tendencia al alza. En el año 2013 el presupuesto asignado fue de $565.6 millones, en el año 2014 fue de $570.70 millones.

Acciones como el incremento del presupuesto en salud ha permitido implementar la gratuidad en las consultas de salud, lo que contribuyó al incremento del 40% en la demanda de dichos servicios y a aumentar el abastecimiento de medicamentos en hospitales y unidades de salud de la red pública.

El Programa Nacional de Salud tiene como principales dificultades el déficit histórico en infraestructura, las barreras geográficas y la asignación de un presupuesto insuficiente para los requerimientos de sus servicios. De todos modos, la implementación de los Equipos Comunitarios de Salud Familiar (ECOS Familiares) por parte del gobierno ha permitido ampliar el acceso a este derecho básico a zonas que nunca antes habían contado con atención médica.

En lo últimos 4 años se instalaron 517 ECOS, 481 Ecos Familiares y 36 Ecos Especializados, de estos hay un Ecos Especializado en Salud Sexual y Reproductiva en cada una de las cuatro sedes de Ciudad Mujer que se encuentran en los municipios de Colón, Usulután, Santa Ana y San Martín, con un total de 80 recursos humanos. Los Ecos atienden a 1,894,866 personas en 164 municipios. [4]

Por otra parte, la mortalidad en menores de 5 años ha disminuido de 52 por cada mil nacidos vivos en el quinquenio 1992-2008 a 19 por cada mil nacidos vivos en el quinquenio 2003-2008. [5]

La epidemia del VIH-sida es en El Salvador tanto un problema de salud pública como una crisis de desarrollo. El VIH afecta por lo general a personas en sus años más productivos, perjudicando a las familias y a las comunidades y profundizando la pobreza.  En El Salvador desde 1984 hasta el 6 de junio del 2013 se han contabilizado 29.788 casos de VIH y VIH avanzado.

A pesar de que las tendencias siguen a la baja año con año (2008, 2,114; 2009, 1,814; 2010, 1,897 y 2011, 1,713 casos registrados) los principales sectores afectados siguen siendo los mismos: sobre todo niños, luego jóvenes en edad productiva y adultos. [6] 

Según el informe del PNUD la meta de detener y comenzado a reducir el VIH para el 2015 es difícil de dimensionar en el tiempo, ya que se tienen problemas de subregistro y todavía se está trabajando en definir la metodología de medición más apropiada. [7]

Para afrontar los desafíos en materia de salud es preciso obtener financiamiento a través de la recaudación dentro del país para dotar de sustentabilidad a los programas hoy implementados con fondos externos; transversalizar las cuestiones de género, de derechos humanos y del VIH en todos los sectores del sistema y en todas las etapas de la vida; diseñar e implementar una política de salud sexual y reproductiva; lograr la disminución de la mortalidad neonatal y de menores de cinco años y mantener la tendencia a la baja de la mortalidad materna, aunque ya haya cumplido el ODM al respecto.

El cuarto país más vulnerable del mundo

Según el último Censo de Población y Vivienda, este país contaba en 2007 con 5,7 millones de habitantes, mientras cerca de 2,9 millones de salvadoreños vivían en el extranjero. Es la nación más densamente poblada de la América continental y el más deforestado de todo el continente después de Haití.

El Equipo de Naciones Unidas de Evaluación y Coordinación en Caso de Desastres (UNDAC) ubicó en 2012 a El Salvador en el cuarto lugar entre los países más vulnerables del mundo por sus problemas ambientales y por los efectos del cambio climático que sufre.

El 88,7% del territorio nacional es vulnerable a eventos climáticos, y 95% de la población vive en condiciones de vulnerabilidad.

El cambio climático agrava la ya difícil situación de la agricultura y la falta de soberanía alimentaria. El país importa la mayor parte de alimentos que consume. La falta de producción local y nacional afecta la salud de la población, en especial la de niñas y niños, mujeres embarazadas y personas adultas mayores[8] .

El gobierno presentó en 2012 la Política Nacional de Medio Ambiente, pero es preciso diseñar e implementar un plan estratégico exhaustivo y financieramente sustentable para disminuir la vulnerabilidad y garantizar la habitabilidad del territorio. Es una asignatura pendiente de este gobierno, al que le quedan apenas dos años para desarrollar planes de ordenamiento territorial, educación ambiental y combate a la pobreza que permitan reducir los riesgos.

Leve crecimiento y una relativa disminución de la pobreza

Se estima que El Salvador ha tenido avances en materia de eliminación de la pobreza y el hambre. Se estima que el porcentaje de personas en pobreza extrema medida con la línea nacional disminuyó de 32.62% a 11.3% entre los años 1991 y 2012.[9]

A nivel nacional un 34.5% de los hogares se encuentran en pobreza; de estos el 8.9% se encuentra en pobreza extrema; mientras que el 25.6% están en pobreza relativa. En el área urbana el 29.9% de los hogares viven en pobreza de estos el 6.5% se encuentran en situación de pobreza extrema y el 23.4% en pobreza relativa. En el área rural un 43.3% de hogares se encuentran en pobreza, de los cuales el 13.6% están en pobreza extrema y el 29.8% en pobreza relativa. Uno de los principales factores de pobreza es el desempleo que afecta a 165,439personas lo que representa una tasa de desempleo a nivel nacional de 6.1% que en el área urbana es de 6.2% y en el área rural de 5.8%; el desempleo afecta  mayormente a los hombres con un índice de desempleo de 7.3% que a las mujeres con un 4.3%. [10] .

El Salvador ha sido el país más afectado por la crisis económica en América Latina. En 2009, el PIB se contrajo 3,5%, las remesas (que representaban casi 18% del PIB) cayeron 9,9%, y la deuda pública pasó de 42,5% en 2007 al 53% en 2009. En los últimos años la economía salvadoreña ha comenzado a recuperarse a un ritmo lento: en 2011 registró un crecimiento del 2%, del 1.6 en 2012 y del 1.9% en 2013. Según datos oficiales se estima que en 2014 crecerá un 2.1%. 

Un indicador positivo son las exportaciones hacia Centroamérica, el segundo mercado más importante para el país después de Estados Unidos, y por segundo año consecutivo El Salvador le vende  más a la región de lo que le compra. Otro importante factor que mantiene a flote la economía del país son las remesas, que en 2013 cerraron con un crecimiento del 5.1 % en comparación con 2012, con un ingreso total de $3,969 millones. Solo en enero de este año, el país recibió $289 millones de remesas de los hermanos lejanos la mayoría residentes en Estados Unidos, este ingreso es el mayor registrado desde 2008, previo a la crisis económica global.


Al inicio del segundo período del FMLN en la presidencia del país, se vuelve imperiosa la necesidad de consolidar e institucionalizar los programas gubernamentales que han permitido mejorar el acceso a la salud y a la educación.

En esta etapa de transición política es importante que para garantizar el desarrollo integral y equitativo de la población salvadoreña se garantice la continuidad de los programas sociales en salud, educación y las ayudas solidarias que fortalecen la producción agrícola y económica de los sectores que históricamente fueron excluidos del desarrollo del país. Pero para esto las reformas fiscales se vuelven cada vez más urgentes y necesarias con el objetivo de controlar con efectividad la elusión y la evasión de impuestos y ampliar así la recaudación para financiar estos programas y superar el déficit estatal. También es preciso que las empresas privadas y las principales gremiales que las aglutinan se comprometan con los proyectos que impulsa el gobierno, de modo que prime el bien común sobre los intereses particulares.


[1]  Integrantes de las organizaciones que conforman Social Watch El Salvador(CIDEP, MEC, ASAFOCAIS, FCS, FNV) Agradecen el apoyo para esta publicación de: César Artiga, Miguel Ángel Dueñas, Omar García)
[2]Informe Rendición de Cuentas Institucional, Ministerio de Educación de El Salvador, mayo 2012- junio 2013; http://www.mined.gob.sv/administrator/components/com_docestandar/upload/documentos/RENDICION%20DE%20CUENTAS%20jun2012-may2013.pdf
[3]Informe de la Agenda de Desarrollo Post 2015 “El país que queremos”, El Salvador 2014
[4]Informe de Rendición de Cuentas, Ministerio de Salud 2013-2014.
[5]Encuesta Nacionald e Salud Familiar, El Salvador 2008.
[6]Ministerio de Salud, MINSAL 2013
[7]Informe de la Agenda de Desarrollo Post 2015 “El país que queremos”, El Salvador 2014
[9]  PNUD EL Salvador,  Informe de la Agenda de Desarrollo Post 2015 “El país que queremos”,  abril 2014.
[10] Ministerio de Economía, Dirección General de Estadísticas y Censos, “Encuesta de Hogares y Propósitos Múltiples 2012”


Progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals 2015

Unlike many developing countries, India’s economy has been growing at a fast pace, enabling the government to mobilize the necessary resources internally for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Its dependence on international aid, especially for financial resources is minimal; in fact it has declined bilateral aid from many countries. Despite this, however, the country has failed to achieve most of the goals and targets. The main reasons for this are inadequate funding, inappropriate administration and ignorance of policy and governance issues. Ultimately however, the failure is due to the absence of inclusiveness in the development model. Instead of enabling people to acquire basic needs such as food, sanitation, water, health care, the government is promoting ‘non-inclusive growth’ and has sought to provide basic services through subsidies with the associated problems of inefficiency and corruption. The organized sector, which provides quality employment, employs only 12% to 13% of the workforce. The remaining 87% are relegated to agriculture and the informal sector with low and uncertain earnings. The crisis in agriculture, seen in the millions of farmers’ suicides, is now being exacerbated by climate change. Although the government has prepared an ambitious climate change action plan, the focus so far in implementing the plan is limited to investment and technology, ignoring critical issues such as equity, institutional capacity and good governance.

Bhaskara Rao Gorantla, Research Director, National Social Watch, India[1]
Ajay Kumar Ranjan, Research Officer, National Social Watch, India

India’s progress towards achieving the MDGs, as reported in the latest official India MDG Report is summarized at Table 1. As the table shows, India is likely to fall short of a majority of the targets and indicators with respect to Goal 1: poverty and hunger; Goal 3: gender equality; Goal 4: infant mortality, Goal 5: maternal mortality and Goal 7: environmental sustainability, all of which, with the possible exception of environmental sustainability, is appalling. Even the partial successes achieved on targets and indicators with respect to goal 2: education; Goal 6: health, have a few caveats. For example, the school enrollment rates are ahead of the targets, but the dropout rates are also high, making the enrollment rates meaningless. The incidence of HIV/AIDS has come down, but what is alarming is that HIV/AIDS incidence is increasing in states where it was hitherto low. There are also wide variations in the penetration of information and communication devices as agreed under Goal 8: development partnership. And, as the report indicates, the performance of the majority of states on many of the goals and targets is even more appalling. The quality of achievements that have been made is also far from satisfactory.

Issues and challenges

The shortfalls in India’s performance towards achieving these goals can be attributed to three fundamental factors: namely, inadequate funding, inappropriate administration and ignorance of policy and governance issues.

In absolute terms, the government has been mobilizing staggering amounts of resources. For example, the social sector expenditure in the current Five Year Plan, which consists of rural development, elementary education, health and family welfare, women and child development and water and sanitation, has gone up from ₹181.46 billion (USD 3.299 billion) in 1999-2000 to ₹1,788.22 billion (USD 32.513 billion) in 2012-13. However, as a proportion of total expenditure, expenditure for health and family welfare has has fallen, from 9.10% in 2000-01 to 7.01% in 2012-13. During the same period the share going to water and sanitation has declined from 9.80% to 7.73% and the share to social welfare and nutrition has declined from 5.07% to 4.75%. Only the share allocated to education has increased from 10.89% to 14.60%. Even in this area, the goal of spending 6% of GDP on education remained unfulfilled.

The major reason for these shortfalls is that state governments, which are mandated to address social sector needs, are not getting adequate resources and do not have full freedom to mobilize funds from the market and international sources. The central government commands the bulk of the funds and is increasing its allocations towards social sector needs through centrally sponsored schemes (CSSs). But, the cost of administration of these schemes is high and has been increasing steadily over the years, resulting in less funds going to the actually intended purposes. For example, under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment (MANREGA) scheme, which received ₹1,665.16 billion (USD 30.276 billion) between 2006-07 and 2011-12, only 66% of this amount was spent on actual wage employment and 34% was used for administration and other purposes. Further, there are host of problems with respect to the CSSs, such as leakage, misappropriation of funds, and so on, so that the impact of these schemes is far from satisfactory. India is one of three out of a total of eighty-one study countries which experienced an increase in the hunger index between 2006 and 2011 and is doing worse on health indicators than are less developed countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.

The underlying cause of all of these failures is the lack of inclusiveness in the development model. Instead of enabling the people to acquire basic needs such as food, sanitation, water, and health care, the government is promoting ‘non-inclusive growth’ and has sought to provide basic social services through subsidized institutions that all have problems of inefficiency, corruption, and so on. The formal, organized sector, which is the main source of quality employment, employs only 12% to 13% of the country’s workforce. The remaining 87% are relegated to the agriculture and informal sectors with low and uncertain earnings. Though the economy has been growing at phenomenal pace during last decade, employment in the formal sector has declined in absolute numbers from 28.113 million in 1999 to 27.549 in 2008. Further, the quality of employment in this sector has been deteriorating over the last decade.

With the suicide of more than a quarter million farmers in last several years, agriculture has become a crisis for about two-thirds of the population. This crisis has been greatly aggravated by climate change. Although India prepared an ambitious climate change action plan and undertook eight national missions to meet climate change challenges in different sectors, apparently the major focus of these missions is on investment and technologies. More critical issues such as equity, institutional capacity and governance have not received sufficient attention.

Table 1: India’s progress towards achieving the MDGs

The way forward

The “success” that India has achieved through deregulation and other economic reform measures proves that economic liberalization can greatly improve productivity and accelerate economic growth. However, the reform measures have so far been confined to the economic sphere, especially, to the manufacturing and service sectors. The country needs paradigm shifts in agriculture, natural resource management, development planning and governance. Recommendations for bringing about such shifts include:

  1. Governance:  Focus on enabling the people to achieve rights and entitlements on their own rather than making them dependent on the state’s largess. In the short run the direct cash transfer may be the best option instead various subsidies, which have larger administrative costs and lead to various distractions. True decentralization is the best possible method to get genuine peoples’ participation in governance and decision-making. Towards this, the government should implement the reservation of seats for women in the Parliament as well as in state assemblies and councils.
  2. Economy: Focus on employment oriented products and processes in industrialization and services. Create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship development. Focus on promoting cooperatives instead of only the public-private partnership model.
  3. Agriculture: Focus on implementing biodiversity cropping patterns in place of the current focus on ‘industrial cultivation.’


Government of India, Millennium Development Goals: India Country Report 2011 (New Delhi, Central Statistical Office, 2011).

See Planning Commission, Midterm Appraisal of the Eleventh Five Year Plan, New Delhi, 2011. Available at: http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/mta/11th_mta/chapterwise/Comp_mta11th.pdf. (Accessed on 12 November 2012; and N.C. Saxena, Administrative Reforms for Better Governance (New Delhi: Daanish Books, 2012), p.93.

Government of India Planning Commission, Data for use of Deputy Chairman, New Delhi, 2012, p. 21. Available at: http://planningcommission.nic.in/data/datatable/0904/comp_data0904.pdf. (Accessed on 12 November 2012).

Ministry of Rural Development, “MGNREGA Sameeksha: An Anthology of Research Studies on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005-2006–2012 (New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2012).

Cited in Saxena, Administrative Reforms,  2012, p. 92.

Ibid., p.95.

Planning Commission, Data for use of Deputy Chairman, 2012.

S.Mehrotra, A. Gandhi, B. K. Sahoo, and P. Saha, “Creating Employment in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan,Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 47, no. 19, 2011.

G. Bhaskara Rao, “Current Climate Variability Adaptation in AP and Available Options,” GEF – FAO – BIRD Strategic Pilot on Adaptation to Climate Change (SPACC) Project, Hyderabad, 2012. Available at: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5066u5_umeGYnM5bGd6RHdRZ21PRUVONmJGTEdrZw/edit> (Accessed on 12 November 2012).


Progress towards the MDGs

Despite the vision of the Somali Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a pro-poor instrument and support from the international community, Somalia is unlikely to meet most, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Almost 66% of the population is living in severe poverty. Moreover, with another food crisis looming on the horizon, Somalia will not be able to recover from the worst famine in 60 years, one that affected over one-third of its population in 2011. Armed conflict continues in many areas of the country and the international aid system is unable to meet basic needs: again 857,000 are now in need of emergency aid. Ambitious plans of governments are always thwarted by fierce armed insurgency, and the aid agencies strive to mitigate the impacts as the disasters come and go. Somalia is amongst the largest aid recipients in the world. But why progress is not made towards the MDGs? Why the country is unable to break the vicious cycle of crisis?

Ilyas Ibrahim Mohamed
Social Watch Somalia Coalition

Despite the vision of the Somali Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a pro-poor instrument and support from the international community, Somalia is unlikely to meet most, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Almost 66% of the population is living in severe poverty. Moreover, with another food crisis looming on the horizon, Somalia will not be able to recover from the worst famine in 60 years, one that affected over one-third of its population in 2011. Armed conflict continues in many areas of the country and the international aid system is unable to meet basic needs: again 857,000 are now in need of emergency aid. Ambitious plans of governments are always thwarted by fierce armed insurgency, and the aid agencies strive to mitigate the impacts as the disasters come and go. Somalia is amongst the largest aid recipients in the world. But why progress is not made towards the MDGs? Why the country is unable to break the vicious cycle of crisis?

At a time when major breakthroughs were taking place in the history of development in 1990s, including the appearance of new approaches, most importantly the human development, Somalia was in its death throes. Moreover, the two decades of armed conflict that followed the state collapse in 1991 have taken a heavy toll on people, institutions, the economy and the environment.

Nevertheless, the first post-civil war administration, the four-year old Transitional National Government of Somalia (TNG) was among the states that participated in drawing up the Millennium Declaration in 2000. The formation of Transitional Federal Institutions in Somalia in 2004 was seen as a critical opportunity to “achieve peace and security, promote governance and the rule of law, begin recovery, reconstruction and development, reverse regression from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and advance sustainable socio-economic development throughout Somalia.”

In 2005, responding to the request of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the international community, the United Nations Development Group and the World Bank co-directed a Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA), the first and the largest of its kind in Somalia. The main objective of the Somali Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) was ‘to assess needs and develop a prioritized set of reconstruction and development initiatives to support Somali-led efforts to deepen peace and reduce poverty,’d a process that finally produced the Somali Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a pro-poor instrument, strategy and a framework for recovery and development interventions.

However, progress reports produced since 2007 by UNDP Somalia and the TFG have indicated that the country is lagging far behind track to meet most of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Oxford’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) reported from a 2006 survey that 65.6% of the population lives in severe poverty, lacking basic services, including access to education. Moreover, the Fund for Peace report in 2012 indicated that appalling as it was in the past, the situation is growing worse. Together with the rest of Horn of Africa, Somalia is now facing another food crisis, and the politicized aid system is unable to meet basic needs.

With few months remaining until the MDGs target date of 2015, why is there so little change in Somalia? What will it take to achieve the MDGs? Or rather what will it take to overcome challenges that are hindering progress towards the MDGs? While such questions cannot be answered in this short report, as they involve much broader discussions, it is important to describe the situation to stimulate more national and global debates for better post 2015 reform.

Vicious cycle of crises

Progress towards achieving the MDGs in Somalia is confronted with worst combination of challenges the country has faced in many years. Yet, except for piracy, problems of insecurity, anarchy, human rights violations, displacement and droughts, to name just a few, have existed long before the before the MDGs were adopted.

While UNDP’s 2010 International Assessment report, “What will it take to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?” stated that progress on one of the MDGs contributes to progress in the others, calling for a multisectoral approach and coordination, it would not be practical to consider progress on one challenge as a real achievement before making sure that it not causing regression on other challenges. Progress is multifaceted problem.

Massive deforestations, concomitant shortages in rainfall, and the long-neglected impacts of droughts are the main issues related to conflict and environment. Although the incidence of off-shore piracy has declined, it is generally recognized, including by the UN Security Council that patrolling the coast is not enough to fight piracy without addressing its underlying causes – social, economic and environmental.

Illegal fishing and waste dumping are now seen as a new form of piracy, including by the new pirates themselves. However, the fact that wastes have been imported to Somalia since the onset of the chaos is hard to refute. The 2004 Tsunami also washed some strange objects ashore, primarily in Puntland. A report by Al Jazeera Arabic on 2 November 2012 showed a strange barrel that washed up on the Mogadishu coast. Lack of equipment and specialized government agencies prevents the analysis of such objects and the assessment of their danger on health and the environment.

Recently, the combination of pirates kidnapping ships, boats and crews for ransom, and the Combined Task Force 150 doing the same to curb piracy has done much to make Somalia less attractive as a waste dumping destination. However, the by-product is more than 2,000 people involved in piracy acts, the majority of them young people who can no longer fish beyond three kilometres without being arrested as pirates or livestock keepers who had lost their livestock to frequent droughts, and even educated individuals who cannot find jobs. This will continue to jeopardize security if the causes are not addressed. The question is, has the impact of piracy that also affected food prices for the poor purchasing power been curbed?

In addition, continuous armed confrontations are not only causing death and destruction of property but also affecting environment. The worst confrontations took place in the southern agro-pastoralist areas in 2006, when Ethiopian troops entered Somalia. The environmental implications of the new settlements of Elasha-Biyaha – situated between Mogadishu and Afgoi, an agricultural district known for its fresh vegetables and fruits, including bananas – are too early to predict.

While security in Mogadishu has improved as armed confrontations moved to agricultural areas of Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle, as well as to the regions of Lower Jubba, Gedo, Bay, Bakool and Hiiran, the costs for these badly drought-affected areas will be huge. If the confrontations intensify in these regions, it will cause damages to the meagre agricultural resources, causing the agro-pastoralists slide back into famine.

Furthermore, the strides made in stabilizing Mogadishu are coupled with deteriorating personal security in the so-called liberated areas, including Merka, Jowhar, Kismayo and parts of Mogadishu. Rape cases have also increased, particularly among women in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) camps according to reports by activists. Targeted killings, particularly of journalists, are still widespread in Mogadishu.

The fact that more areas have become accessible, given the weakness of Government security forces, is undoubtedly creating favourable conditions for increased rates of crimes and violations. Hence, resorting to ‘muscles’ is not enough to ensure stabilization without addressing underlying causes, including the reasons that made these areas fertile land for the current insurgency. Unless this happens, progress, achievements, even stability is unlikely to be sustained as progress in some sectors results in regression in others, and impacts that have been mitigated may make a resurgence if their causes are left intact.

Coordination conundrum

Then again, why progress is more or less the same in stable areas of Somalia, where the situation is less complex and access is smooth? The Somaliland Millennium Development Report concluded that the direct implementation of programmes, without local coordination, resulted in inappropriate prioritization and increased delivery cost. Not utilizing the existing development expertise and obtainable facts and figures, and not taking into account the priorities of local beneficiaries turned aid into “rain, where no one has a say about when, where, and how much to rain”. In such cases the aid organizations themselves are perceived by the public as clouds that carry such rain.

The dozens of organizations that work in these stable areas assess the needs prior to their interventions, as a practical way to discover the needs of destitute people. However, the findings are seldom used to refine objectives, develop new strategies or design new interventions that are tailored to the needs of the targeted people. They are very often used for validating ideas of pre-decided objectives of a certain project.

One rural villager, addressing a team commissioned in 2012 to conduct assessments in that area, stated: ‘Every month, two or three assessment teams come to our village enquiring about our needs. We tell them the challenges we face. They disappear and do not come back. I wonder what kind of needs these people look for that they are not seeing in our communities.’

Coordination and information sharing saves time and resources for organizations looking for information. Establishing a data and information hub that continuously generates evidence and facilitates interventions is not unknown in Somalia. For example, an effective information management system administered by OCHA is already in place. This includes the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) 3Ws (Who, What, Where), and infographic and geospatial products that made it easier to coordinate humanitarian interventions in Somalia.

There are many other successful examples that other development interventions could follow, adjust to the nature of their work and use for measuring impacts. Measuring impact, however, is not viable with the current approach, where Somali aid dependants exaggerate in order not to lose the opportunity of being targeted.

Moreover, the expected impact itself – as the current reality on ground proves – is not likely to be achieved while some other needs that render it impossible are not prioritized. As such coordination requires as much information as possible, any data on the needs of beneficiaries should be circulated and addressed in one way or another.

Building Better Responses

The election of the new President in Mogadishu, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, marked the end of the transition period. The new government and parliament has also been perceived as ‘Revolution by Somali Civil Society,’ that is, mainly by academics and civil society activists.

However, for the average Somali, over two decades of transitional governments and chaos, and nearly a decade of confusion which preceded the collapse of the state in 1991, can be summed up in the words of the Somalia Special Envoy to the United States, Abukar Arman:

“Still, the average Somali sees his/her government as the archetype of power abuse, the magnet of demagoguery, the personification of partisanship, the agents of disunity, the epitome of incompetence, the exploiters of resources, the executioners of injustice, the promoters of corruption, the purveyors of propaganda, the distorters and manipulators nationalism, of duty, of citizenship, and mutual interest!”

Therefore the biggest challenge that the current Government faces is not security, it is the ‘hungry and angry’ people still counting on change.

At no time in history of Somalia has the hope for changing this perception been more possible than now, with public worn out and striving to sustain the little hope that has existed in Mogadishu recently, and the Government run by visionary intellectuals who are fully aware and even affected by the turmoil over the last two decades.

With the establishment of Somaliland Development Fund (SDF), Somaliland has started playing active role in leading development interventions in their territories. It is about time for the Federal Government, learning from the experience of previous government, to initiate the initiatives of meeting the needs of its people.


Seulement le but de la lutte contre le VIH / SIDA est proche

<p> La crise de l’économie congolaise a été occasionnée par l’effondrement du cours de cuivre et le choc pétrolier des années 1974, suivie de la zaïrianisation, renforcée par la mauvaise gouvernance et la forte poussée démographique déversant chaque année sur le marché de l’emploi un nombre important de personnes en âge de travailler. Cette crise est exacerbée par les pillages de 1991 et 1993 ainsi que les guerres de libération de 1996 et 1998. Il existe une grande pauvreté dans le pays et nous ne constatons aucune volonté observée dans la politique de création de l’emploi. Environ 80% de la population n’a pas accès ni à l’eau potable ni à l’électricité, 70% n’a pas accès aux soins primaires et le pays a l’un des plus forts taux de mortalité infantile. La constitution consacre l’enseignement primaire obligatoire et gratuit mais la matérialisation de ce principe continue à poser problème. Quant’ a la promotion de genre, certes il y a des avancées, mais l’on constante encore que des filles et des femmes sont soumises à l’esclavage sexuel et à des mariages forcés, ou sont victime de harcèlement sexuel. </p>

Social Watch DR Congo


L’économie congolaise n’est pas dans son assiette. Et pourtant ce n’est pas une situation récente. La crise de l’économie congolaise remonte à une période lointaine. Elle a été occasionnée par l’effondrement du cours de cuivre et le choc pétrolier des années 1974, suivie de la zaïrianisation, renforcée par la mauvaise gouvernance et la forte poussée démographique déversant chaque année sur le marché de l’emploi un nombre important de personnes en âge de travailler. Cette crise est exacerbée par les pillages de 1991 et 1993 ainsi que les guerres de libération de 1996 et 1998. De ce fait, nous ne constatons aucune volonté observée dans la politique de création de l’emploi. La politique nationale de l’emploi n’existe pas jusqu’au jour d’aujourd’hui, elle est toujours en cours d’élaboration selon les dires de la directrice de la direction de l’emploi[1].


La bonne gouvernance de gestion des ressources continue à poser problème. L’impunité bat son plein et la corruption est devenueun mode de vie.
Etat actuel de la corruption

  • Constat : La situation sérieuse et préoccupante de la corruption parle Gouvernement congolais, les médias, les organisations religieuses, les organisations de la société civile et la population.
  • Situation reflétée dans les indices de la gouvernance :

            -Transparence International : 2 sur 10, 168e sur 182 pays couverts[2];
- Indicateurs de la Banque Mondiale[3]:

Indices clés



Participation et transparence



Qualité réglémentaire



Contrôle de la corruption



Stabilité politique



Efficacité du gouvernment



Etat de droit



- Indice de compétitivité[4]: 175e sur 183 pays analysés.
- Indice d’ouverture budgétaire 2010 : 6/100, une amélioration marginale par rapport  au score de 0/100 obtenu en 2008.
- Doing Business 2012[5] : 181e sur 185 pays classifiés.


La desserte en eau et en énergie pose un sérieux problème en RDC, environ 80% de la population, soit près de 50 millions d’individus, n’ont accès ni à l’eau potable ni à l’électricité; pourtant qu’elle possède des ressources énergétiques abondantes et variées notamment la biomasse, l’hydraulique, le pétrole, les gaz naturels…
Selon le bilan énergétique 2010 de la RDC, il se dégage les informations statistiques importantes ci-après[6] :

  • L’année 2010 a connu un approvisionnement national de l’ordre de 24.116 ktep tandis que la consommation finale totale s’élève à 22.611 ktep;
  • la consommation finale de l’énergieen RDC est de 0.30 tep/hab. Elle demeure inférieure à la moyenne africaine qui est de 0.48 tep/hab. et à la moyenne mondiale qui se situe à 1.25 tep/hab.;
  • 94,2% de la consommation finale totale provient de la biomasse (bois de feu et charbon de bois) alors que les autres formes d’énergie contribuent à raison de seulement 3,4% pour les produits pétroliers et 2,4% pour l’électricité.


Au plan social, la RDC connaît une situation précaire marquée par une grande pauvreté de sa population sur l’ensemble de son territoire. Quelques indicateurs disponibles permettent d’appréhender l’étendue de ces problèmes[7]:

  • environ 16 millions de personnes sont victimes de précarité alimentaire selon le Programme Alimentaire Mondial (PAM);
  • une grande majorité d’habitants dépendent d’activités économiques informelles pour leur survie et disposent d’une ration calorique quotidienne de 1630 kcal/personne/jour, inférieure de plus d’un tiers à ce qu’il faut pour se maintenir en bonne santé;
  • au plan sanitaire, 70% des personnes n’ont pas accès aux soins primaires ;

Le pays a l’un des plus forts taux de mortalité infantile, 148 pour 1.000 naissances entre 2002 et 2007. 


Septante pour cent des personnes n’ont pas accès aux soins primaires ;
Le pays a l’un des plus forts taux de mortalité infantile, 148 pour 1.000 naissances entre 2002 et 2007[8]. 


Le Droit à l’éducation scolaire est reconnu par la loi et la constitution consacre l’enseignement[9] primaire obligatoire et gratuit dans les établissements publics mais la matérialisation de ce principe continue à poser problème. Nous assistons au phénomène «pris en charge des enseignants par les parents»


La RDC a ratifié et adhéré à plusieurs instruments juridiques internationaux, régionaux et sous régionaux pour le respect de genre.
Elle dispose de la politique nationale genre (PNG) et son plan d’action ainsi que d’une stratégie nationale de lutte contre les violences sexuelles basées sur le genre(SNVBG). Certes il y a des avancées, mais l’on constante encore que des filles et des femmes sont soumises à l’esclavage sexuel, à des mariages forcés et à des grossesses non désirées, ou sont victime de harcèlement sexuel à l’école, à l’université, sur lieux de travail ou encore au sein même de leur famille. Ces actes entravent le potentiel humain et la contribution efficiente des femmes au développement durable de la nation congolaise.

Tableau N° 20 : Indice de la condition de la femme en en RDC[10] : éducation

Indice de la condition de la femme en RDC : Education




Indice de





Taux de scolarisation préscolaire


3 ,1


Taux de scolarisation primaire (net)




Taux de scolarisation secondaire (net)




Taux de scolarisation supérieur (brut)

80 646

308 739

0 ,26


Fin d’études

Proportion d’élèves qui commencent
la première année et terminent leurs
études primaires



0 ,86



Taux d’alphabétisation des 15-24 ans










La RDC a adhéré à l’ITIE en 2005 et obtenu le statut de pays candidat le 1er Novembre 2007. Son premier rapport portant sur l’exercice 2007 a été rendu public le 10 Mars 2010 et diffusé largement par la société civile à travers toutes les provinces de la RDC. Son deuxième rapport portant sur l’exercice 2008-2009 qui fait l’objet de la présente dissémination, a été publié le 1er Mars 2012 à Kinshasa. Le rapport 2008-2009 est un signal fort pour l’engagement de la RDC à l’ITIE et une étape importante vers sa validation comme pays conforme au mois de mars 2013[11].


La RDC s’est engagée résolument depuis 2009 dans un processus de préparation au futur dispositif international de réduction des émissions liées à la déforestation et à la dégradation des forêts (REDD+).
Ce processus est piloté par le Ministère de l’Environnement, Conservation de la Nature et Tourisme (MECNT), en partenariat avec le programme des Nations-Unies pour la REDD (UN-REDD) et la Banque Mondiale (programme FCPF).
Nous sommes à la fin de la phase préparatoire qui devrait normalement être sanctionné par l’élaboration de la stratégie nationale REDD+, mais le processus a connu certaines:
L’évaluateur a notamment formulé deux recommandations clés, à savoir:

  • La phase de Préparation de la RDC doit être consolidée au-delà de décembre 2012 et sera finalisée lors de la phase d’investissement.
  • La RDC prépare d’ici décembre 2012 une Stratégie-cadre REDD+ qui sera présentée à la Conférence des Parties (COP18) au Qatar.


La guerre injuste imposée à la population de la province du Nord Kivu continue à semer de graves désolations: Déplacement massif de  population, viols et violences. Les plus récents sont celles datées du 16 au 18 novembre 2012. Plusieurs sources indiquent l’implication du Rwanda[12].


En terme de progrès, les résultats de l’enquête MICS 2010 indiquent que des réelles chances sont observées pour la réalisation en 2015 de certaines cibles à travers les efforts réalisés en matière de lutte contre le VIH/SIDA (objectif 6, Cible 6A) et d’autonomisation des femmes (objectif 3, Cible 3A). Pour les objectifs liés à la lutte contre la pauvreté (objectif 1, cible 1C), à l’éducation pour tous d’ici 2015 (objectif 2, cible 2A), la santé infantile (objectif 4, cible 4A), la lutte contre le paludisme (objectif 6, cible C) et l’assainissement (objectif 7, cible 7C) aucun réel progrès n’est observé. Enfin, les progrès sont mitigés en matière de santé maternelle (objectif 5, cible 5A), et d’accès à l’eau potable[13] (objectif 7, cible 7C).

Sur le plan économique

Des efforts importants ont été fournis par le Gouvernement de la République Démocratique du Congo dans le sens de l’amélioration de la gouvernance économique. Ces efforts commencent à produire des résultats mais beaucoup de choses restent encore à faire.

Plusieurs  mesures  ont été prises par le Gouvernement parmi lesquelles on peut citer à titre illustratif :

  • La réforme des finances publiques avec  la loi n°11/013 du 13 juillet 2011 relative aux Finances Publiques ;
  • L’introduction depuis janvier 2012 de la Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée ;
  • La bancarisation de la paie des fonctionnaires de l’Etat ;
  • La mise en place en avril 2013 d’un Guichet unique de création d’entreprise grâce auquel la durée de la procédure est passée de 62 jours à 3 jours
  • Etc

Grâce à toutes ces mesures, le pays a enregistré quelques résultats notamment un taux de croissance de 8% en 2013, un taux d’inflation de 1% en fin 2013, un taux de change qui est demeuré stable autour de 920 Francs Congolais pour le dollar américain, depuis près de quatre ans.

Pacification de l’Est de la RDC

La population de l’Est de la République Démocratique du Congo notamment de la province de Nord, du Sud Kivu et de la Province Orientale est souvent victime de toutes les guerres d’agression et de rébellion qu’a connue notre pays. Le tout commence d’abord dans la province du Nord Kivu devenu comme le terrain des théâtres des affrontements des groupes armés. La population de cette région n’a vécu que sous les affres de la guerre avec la présence de plusieurs groupes armées tant nationaux qu’étrangers. Avec l’avènement de la signature de l’Accord cadre pour la paix, la sécurité et la coopération pour la République Démocratique du Congo et la région, intervenue à Addis Abebas le 24 février 2013 par 11 pays de la région et la Résolution 2098 du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies dotant la MONUSCO (Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en RDC) la brigade d’intervention rapide d’un mandat offensif, la paix dans cette partie du pays est rétablie. Les moments forts sont la dissuasion de la rébellion et la reddition de FDLR (Force Démocratique de Libération du Rwanda).Cette paix reste encore fragile à l’intérieur tout comme à l’extérieur et mérite d’être consolidé pour rassurer cette population qui a souffert pendant de longues années.

Processus électoral5

Depuis la publication du calendrier électoral  des élections urbaines, municipales et locales directes et indirectes le 26 mai 2014 par la Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante(CENI), le processus électoral est relancé en République Démocratique du Congo avec controverse. Surtout l’opposition et certaines organisations de la société civile  n’adhèrent pas à ce calendrier sous prétexte de la prolongation délibérée du mandat du président de la République et d’autres par contre le non achèvement du cycle électoral de 2011, elles exigent un calendrier global des élections. Cette position est relayée par la communauté internationale à travers les envoyés spéciaux à l’issue de leurs rencontres et consultations avec les différents acteurs du microcosme politique national ( Présidence de la République, Premier Ministre, membres de la CENI, activistes de la société civile, animateurs du Mécanisme National de Suivi de l’Accord-cadre d’Addis-Abeba, etc.), ont animé une conférence de presse au cours de laquelle ils demandent un calendrier global des élections à l’horizon 2016(point de presse du 3juin 2014 au quartier QG de la MONUSCO)

Révision constitutionnelle

En date du 09 juin 2014, à l’issue du Conseil extraordinaire des Ministres, Monsieur Lambert MENDE, le porte parole du gouvernement a annoncé l’adoption par le Gouvernement congolais du projet de loi portant modification de la Constitution sans dire quelles sont les dispositions visées, et c’est en prévision des prochaines élections. Cette question de la révision de la constitution fait jaser et laisse perplexe le commun de mortel. L’Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de l’Homme(ASADHO) demande au gouvernement de s’abstenir de faire modifier les dispositions de l’article 220 de la Constitution et d’engager des consultations avec toutes les forces politiques et sociales pour la modification des autres dispositions non verrouillées de la Constitution et qui touchent à l’organisation des élections.


[1]Ministère de travail et prévoyance sociale(Plan d’Action National pour l’Emploi des Jeunes

[2]Indice de perception de la corruption 2011 de Transparency International

[3]Indicateurs de gouvernance dans le monde 2009 de la Banque Mondiale

[4]Indice de compétitivité des entreprises 2011 de la Banque Mondiale

[5]Banque Mondiale 2012


[7]voir enquête EDS de la CBT et rapport national des progrès des OMD ainsi que Annuaire statistique de la FAO de l’année 2005, RNDH 2008)


[9]Constitution de la république ; Article 43, 1er et 5ième alinéa

[10]Rapport National genre 2011

[11]Rapport synthèse  ITIE 2008-2009

[12]Rapport des Nations Unies 2012 ; les déclarations de la société civile du Nord Kivu 2012

[13]Encadré 4. Progrès vers les OMD (DSRP2)


Mot du Premier Ministre Matata Ponyo au 9ème Forum Bisannuel US-Africa Business Summit le 09 octobre 2013 à Chicago ;
² Allocution du Premier Ministre Matata Ponyo lors de la présentation du projet du budget 2014 le 08 janvier 2014 à l’Assemblée Nationale
3Accord cadre d’Addis Abebas du 24 février 2013
4Résolution 2098 du Conseil de sécurité de Nations Unies

5Point de presse du 3juin 2014 au QG de la MONUSCO animé par les envoyés spéciaux pour la région de Grand Lac


Some steps forward, some steps back

The lack of political will seems to be the main obstacle on Ghana’s road to development and human well-being, but it is not the only one. This West African country has walked a long way towards poverty eradication, food security and education to all. But it can not provide yet medical services to all the population and free health care to all pregnant women, so maternal mortality remains very high, as gender inequities. In the meantime, the economy experiences a sustained growth.

Ghana Social Watch Coalition

The lack of political will seems to be the main obstacle on Ghana’s road to development and human well-being, but it is not the only one. This West African country has walked a long way towards poverty eradication, food security and education to all. But it cannot yet provide medical services to all the population and despite free health care to all pregnant women, maternal mortality remains very high, as do gender inequities. In the meantime, the economy experiences a sustained growth.

Ghana’s progress in attaining the targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) has been a mixed one. Much effort has been made to reduce the numbers of the poor, to improve food security and to increase enrollment in primary schools. But progress has not been enough to meet other MDG goals and targets. By 2007, Ghana was hailed as one of the first countries in Sub-Saharan Africa on the right track to reach the target of poverty reduction. Between 1992 and 2006 the proportion of those living below the poverty line fell from 36.5% to 18.2%.

A key target was enrollment in primary and secondary education. From 1991 to 2008 the numbers of children registered in kindergarten increased from approximately 56% to nearly 90%. In the same period primary school enrollment increased from 74%d to nearly 95%, and at the level of junior high school it increased from 70% to 79%. Strides were made on MDG Goals 1 and 2.

It has been less successful in respect of other goals and targets.

Sadly in Ghana the number of women who die during child birth remains stubbornly high. Despite progress has been made with overall maternal mortality ratios falling from 540 per 100,000 live births to 450 per 100,000 live births between 1992 and 2008, attaining the MDG target of 185 per 100,000 live births is proving to be an even greater challenge and is unlikely to be met by 2015.

One major obstacle has been the shortage of skilled health care personnel. Currently coverage by skilled birth attendants is low. There is a challenge in that there are not enough trainees to take the place of the midwives who retire. There is also a gap between rural and urban areas in terms of access to health care. Rural areas are shortchanged by less access to qualified maternal care. The distances to health care facilities and to skilled personnel are also an issue for most. A pregnant woman’s decisions with regards to medical attention also depends on her level of poverty. Poor women are less likely to seek health care except when the situation is critical.

The promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment, Goal 3, is another target that Ghana is unlikely to meet. Instead of increasing the numbers of women in decision-making positions in the public sector, today there are even less women in key areas. For example from 25 female members of the 200 member Parliament 2000, there are currently 19 women out of 230, a drop from 10% to 8.3 %. Women make up only 16% of the ministerial positions and 10% of the deputy ministers. There are also few women in decision-making ranks at the local government level. This inequality has been attributed to a lack of commitment from the government to meet the international commitments on the matter.

The picture then …

When the international community agreed the MDGs in 2000, Ghana was emerging from three decades of economic and political falls and recovery – the debt crisis of the 70s and 80s, the structural adjustment programs of the 80s and the slow recovery in the 90s.

Between 2000 and 2008, Africa experienced a period of sustained growth, with yearly averages of nearly 5%. These were attributed to internal and external factors, among them a high demand for commodities, inflows of aid, foreign investment primarily channeled into the extractive sector, the reform of state institutions to support private capital and the institutionalization of economic liberalization. The political stability in a number of countries in the region was also a factor. In this context, Ghana has been described as a beacon of peace and reliability in West Africa, and that image attracted investments and aid and boosted the economic growth.

With an economy that remains highly dependent on minerals and primary commodities exports, the record high prices of gold and cocoa boosted Ghana’s growth. The price of cocoa, the main agricultural export of this country, soared to a 32-year high in reaching USD 3,500 per metric ton. In that same year national cocoa production also reached a high of one million metric tons. Production was also boosted by incentives given to producers – higher farm gate prices, fertilizer and spraying programs to name just two. On the other hand, gold prices topped USD 1,900 per ounce in 2011. Nearly 1.5 million ounces were produced accruing revenues of USD 2.2 billion. According to the Ghana Chamber of Mines this represented an increase of over 30%. Ghana’s economy received a further boost with the discovery of commercial quantities of oil. Production and export commenced in 2010. In an apparent sign of the nation’s growing fortunes, Ghana was declared a middle income country in 2011.

Foreign aid has been an important source of development financing. Ghana is in many ways a donor darling and over the years has received aid in the form of budgetary and projects support. From under USD 300 million during the 1990s, aid reached a peak USD 924 million in 2004. By 2009, aid to Ghana was about USD 820 million. Expert Robert Osei notes that the bulk of the aid was directed at the energy sector in the form of loans, although a high percentage of grants were directed at the health sector. He argues that government seemed to place a high premium on infrastructure investment while donors where keen to support social sectors.

While the country’s economic fortunes were improving, steps were taken to address social challenges. Up until 2003, the health care sector was known as the ‘cash and carry’ system. It required the patients to pay before receiving care. This system not only deepened inequalities – it was particularly harmful to the poor and vulnerable as well. In response, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced in 2003. Its goal was to ensure equitable and universal health care services to all Ghanaians. The system was to be funded from a 2.5% levy on all goods and services, a percentage of social security contributions as well annual premiums. Coverage was to include inpatient and outpatient services, and essential drugs as determined by the scheme. However not all medical procedures and services are covered by the new system.

The Free Maternal Health Care Policy was introduced in 2008. It offers attention to pregnant women to reduce maternal and child mortality, and to encourage ante and post natal supervision.

Prior to the MDGs Ghana had adopted the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education Programme (FCUBE). In 2005 it introduced both the Capitation Grant and the School Feeding Programme to further encourage enrollment and attendance in primary schools.

... And now

On the surface Ghana has significantly progressed in development issues. But despite the advances, many of the conditions that disempowered the poor and vulnerable remain.

Poverty has a different face. Like several other countries that have seen sustained economic growth over the past decade, Ghana has graduated to the level of lower middle income country. Industry, services and agriculture are still the three main economic sectors. Yet despite the seemingly impressive growth, income and regional income disparities have been exacerbated in some instances – 28% of the population live with less than a dollar a day, according to the UNDP.[1]

Women in Ghana continue to be the heavily represented among the poor. The situation is even worse in the rural areas. Systemic and structural gender disparities hinder women’s access to productive resources and to their livelihoods.

Health costs remain prohibitive for the vulnerable, even with the introduction of the NHIS. Not all health providers accepted to be part of the scheme, which does not cover all drugs for the treatment of common ailments. A number of pharmacy shops withdrew from the system in the fear that government would not pay for medicines dispensed in a timely manner. Many patients must pay over the counter for drugs covered by the scheme. Using the service can be a time consuming experience for those who can afford it.

Despite the cost-free health care policy for pregnant women, maternal mortality ratios continue to be high. This may be tied to the gaps that this policy does not address. According to the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs only 24% of women in the lowest quintile of income attend a health facility during childbirth[2] . Many of them are poor women in rural areas, who in turn have large families (four to six children) and can not avail themselves of the free health services.

Addressing the high levels of maternal mortality would require recognize that women are not a homogenous group. Account must be taken not only of the challenges that those in the lowest quintile confront, but also the hurdles of other female groups. Civil society groups such as the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights continue to advocate for investment in family planning and education and in emergency obstetric care services especially in rural areas.

The low number of women in Ghana’s decision making positions means that, both at the national or at the local level, there are not concrete policy measures to address the structural gender inequalities and to promote women’s participation. The obstacles include traditional prejudices, negative perceptions about women in public positions and the lack of political will of the government and the parties to promote women’s effective participation.

The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana, issued in 2004 by feminist organizations after a broad debate, addresses the issue of the political will. The Manifesto formulates demands to government and political parties on 10 themes including women’s economic empowerment, land, social policy and development, human rights and the law, and politics and decision making. The 12 demands on politics and decision making enjoined the establishment to change the political culture and to ensure the participation of women at all levels.

Further efforts have been made to promote the inclusion of gender equality issues in the Constitution. In 2010 the Constitutional Review Commission called for the submission of recommendations. The Network for Women's Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), the Women’s Manifesto Coalition and the Domestic Violence Coalition made their proposals that included the prohibition of discrimination and bias on the grounds of sex or gender, to ensure gender balance and fair representation of marginalized groups in the recruitment and appointment to public office, to increase the participation of women in all public institutions, affirmative action measures for vulnerable groups, and that the amended Constitution adequately incorporates the concerns of women.

Post 2015

The aforementioned challenges are just a few of the many that will make it difficult for Ghana to meet the MDGs. And despite numerous official statements in support of these and other development goals the lack of political will could be the hardest obstacle.

Tackling these many challenges will require a mix of financial resources and strong political will. It may also require the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs to play a stronger coordinating and oversight role, although it is not directly responsible for the programs aimed at improving the quality of women’s lives, such as the Free Maternal Health Care Policy. The Ministry’s very limited budget may be a stumbling-block, and it is unlikely that this branch of the government could get more resources in the foreseeable future.

While it is acknowledged that the targets set out by the MDGs are unlikely to be met by 2015, the discussion on the post-2015 development agenda is muted. Civil society continues to demand the government to provide the much needed support, financial and otherwise, to achieve a development that is sustainable and equitable for all.


Africa Progress Panel, 2012. Jobs, Justice and Equity. Seizing opportunities in times of global change. Africa Progress Report

Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) , March 2012, Statement of the Alliance for Reproductive Rights

Asante, Comfort. 2011. The Capitation Grant: Impact on enrollment of pupils in the Basic Education Schools in Ghana. A case study of some selected Junior High Schools in Sunyani Municipality

Daily Guide, July 2012; “Cash and Carry is Back” Article http://www.dailyguideghana.com/?p=55699

GoG, 2011, Budget Statement for the Year 2011, Appendix Tables.

Graham, Yao, 2012; Towards an Agenda for Social Justice Philanthropy in Africa in a time of Global Restructuring

Ministry of Health & UN Country Team, 2011; MDG Acceleration Framework and Country Action Plan, Maternal Health

National Development Planning Commission and UN System in Ghana, 2012; Achieving the MDGs with Equity in Ghana: Unmasking the Issues behind the Averages. Final Report

National Development Planning Commission, 2010, Medium Term National Development Policy Framework: Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) 2010 – 2013. Volume I

Osei, Robert Darko, 2012. Aid, Growth and Private Capital Flows to Ghana. UNU-WIDER Working Paper

Reuters, Sep. 2011 “Ghana H1 2011 gold output up 3 pct-chamber of mines”. Article http://www.reuters.com

Standard Bank 2010. Economics. Ghana: Annual Outlook.

Sumner, Andy, 2012. The New Face of Poverty: How has the Compostion of Poverty in Low Income and Middle Income Countries (excluding China) Changed since the 1990s

Women’s Manifesto Coalition, 2004; The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana

Zaney, GD. 2012. 8 Years of the Women’s Manifesto – An Appraisal.


[1] In 2006 the UNDP estimated percentage of the population living on less than $2 a day at 51%

[2] MOWAC Rural Women and the MDGs 1 and 3: Ghana’s Success and Challenges. Technical paper to the 56th UN-CSW


Switzerland's commitment to the MDGs

In some areas of its foreign policy, Switzerland does not earn the best marks for its contribution to the Millennium Development Goals. Although Switzerland has substantially increased its development budget and pursues good pro-poor development cooperation by international comparison, its finance and trade policy is driven by self-interest and contributes to restricting the policy space of poor countries.


In some areas of its foreign policy, Switzerland does not earn the best marks for its contribution to the Millennium Development Goals. Although Switzerland has substantially increased its development budget and pursues good pro-poor development cooperation by international comparison, its finance and trade policy is driven by self-interest and contributes to restricting the policy space of poor countries.

Nina Schneider
Alliance Sud - Swiss Alliance of Development Organizations

As a donor country Switzerland is bound primarily by the eighth Millennium Development Goal (MDG). This means that it should support the developing countries in realizing MDGs 1-7, and adapt its trade, financial and tax policies to the needs of the developing countries. Its endeavors towards a coherent, pro-development policy have also remained rather modest.

Switzerland has made some headway regarding the import of goods from the poorest countries, which is no longer subject to customs duties and quotas, and in refunding “stolen assets.” In 2011, the Federal Cabinet arranged to block unlawful assets from Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. These assets are to be returned as soon as possible. The goal nevertheless should be to prevent any more stolen assets from entering Switzerland. To date, urgently needed tightening in anti-money laundering and the exclusion of dictators' funds is still pending.

There was also little or no movement on policy coherence for development. In concert with other western countries, Switzerland continues to defend its own economic interests first and foremost, with little regard for the needs of the majority of the world's population in developing countries.

At the start of the millennium, the Government was extremely unwilling to increase its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) in keeping with UN guidelines. The increase in development aid that was planned for the 2000/2001 budget was cancelled out by cutbacks made in response to the 2002/2003 recession. Instead, reductions of up to 30 per cent were being proposed. The civil society alliance "0.7% – Together against Poverty" was established, with a view to averting those cuts.

In 2007 this alliance of over 70 aid agencies, environmental and youth associations, trade unions, human rights and women's organizations launched a petition for ODA to be increased from the then 0.37% to 0.7% of GNI by 2015. Amongst the Swiss public, the MDGs and the international Stop Poverty campaign constituted a good reference framework for this demand.

With over 200,000 signatures, the petition was submitted after just 10 months. That carries significant weight – and made a deep impression on the Parliament. A coalition of parliamentarians from almost all parties reached agreement that an increase to 0.5% by 2015 was politically feasible. After much bouncing back and forth between the Parliament and Government, the decision to make the increase finally came in February 2011. In 2012, the parliament adopted the increase to 0.5% in its debate on the global credit lines for 2013-16, by a substantial two-thirds majority in both chambers.

Still a downside

The development budget will now grow by about 9% annually until 2015. Switzerland is thus bucking the trend towards reduction amongst OECD donor countries. However, it financed its 2010-2012 contributions to the fast-start financing package, which had been agreed at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, from the increased ODA budget. The Government also plans to use ODA to finance a significant part of its contribution to the long-term climate financing of USD 100 billion by 2020, on which UN member countries agreed at the Cancún Climate Conference. It argues that this is all new and additional money, as it had increased the ODA budget. Alliance Sud argues that this money is indeed new since it was earmarked for climate finance after the Cancún agreement but it is not additional as long as it comes from ODA.

In the run-up to the decision on credit lines 2013-16 a vociferous debate erupted about linking development assistance to the readmission of asylum seekers turned down in Switzerland. By a small majority, Parliament rejected any strict linkage. In order to combat irregular migration though, the Federal Council and the development agencies are directed to seek concrete quid pro quos or agreements with partner countries. The Swiss Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for its part calls for ODA to be tied to commodity agreements – a call rejected by the Government.

No progress in trade and financial policy

Switzerland's free trade policy hardly differs from that of the EU and the US and is highly prejudicial to developing countries. Once it became clear that Switzerland would not be able to push through its maximum demands (full liberalization of investments, free access to government procurement and the services sector, etc.) against the majority of developing countries in the WTO, it opted for bilateral free trade agreements. The consequences are far reaching. Developing countries are being pressured, far beyond the stipulations of the WTO agreements, into radical market opening, the elimination of protective regulations and customs duties, and robust protection of intellectual property. Whilst the Swiss export sector benefits from the removal of trade barriers and access to the markets of partner countries, developing countries are losing considerable policy space to strengthen their domestic economies.

Thanks to parliamentary initiatives and NGO lobbying, Switzerland is slowly accepting the consideration of labor rights and environmental standards when negotiating new bilateral free trade agreements. It has thus begun offering to its negotiating partners the possibility to include the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) voluntary provisions on environmental and labor rights. There has been less progress however on investment protection agreements. Under pressure from Parliament, Switzerland now includes principles of sustainable development in the preamble of agreements, but still lags far behind the European Union in the anchoring of human rights.

In patent protection, the Government firmly represents the interests of Swiss chemical and pharmaceuticals industry. Apart from very few humanitarian supplies of medicines, Switzerland's patent protection policy continues to prevent access to medicines and to limit small farmers' use of seeds. Empowered by Swiss policy, Swiss pharmaceutical enterprises in India are taking legal action against the production of generic medicines, thereby preventing access for poor people to affordable drugs.

Because of advantageous investment and fiscal conditions, Switzerland became a major center for commodity companies over the past ten years and is today home to the largest number of multinational enterprises per capita. Firms headquartered in Switzerland such as Glencore, Xstrata or Trafigura make headlines for human rights violations and environmental pollution, thereby jeopardizing Switzerland's reputation. This prompted some 50 NGOs, trade unions and church groups to launch the "Corporate Justice" campaign in 2011. They are calling for clear and binding rules to force international corporations to comply with human rights and environmental standards worldwide. So far, the Parliament and Government have been giving preference to voluntary rules first and foremost, and even the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises are only being implemented half-heartedly in Switzerland.

Some movement on taxes

At the 2010 MDG Summit, Switzerland opposed all initiatives in the realm of financial transparency and international cooperation on tax matters. Whilst Switzerland seems willing to cooperate with industrialized and emerging-market countries, it has not yet concluded any agreements with low-income countries providing for any effective exchange of information about possible tax dodgers. Yet such information exchange is indispensable to poor countries if they are to stop illicit financial outflows and generate more funds of their own for poverty reduction. Conservative estimates put the amount of untaxed funds from developing countries in Swiss banks at USD 400 billion. The real amount is more likely to be around 1,000 billion. If only the interest on these sums were taxed, the countries concerned would stand to have roughly an additional USD 6 billion at their disposal each year for poverty reduction. That is more than twice Switzerland's development aid.

In the wake of the financial crisis, the long-standing engagement of civil society against international tax avoidance gained new momentum amongst G20 and OECD member countries. Since 2009, most of these countries have concluded agreements with Switzerland providing for the exchange of information on tax evaders upon request. In the framework of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the US has even reached an agreement with Switzerland on a form of automatic information exchange. In a press release dated 21 May 2014, the Swiss Government announced the possible expansion of automatic information exchange to “countries with which there are close economic and political ties and which… are considered to be important and promising in terms of their market potential for Switzerland's finance industry.” In contrast, there are still no effective measures to end tax flight from developing countries. According to information from banking circles, the magnitude of the assets flowing from developing and emerging countries into Switzerland is growing markedly.

Responding to civil society and political pressure, however, the Swiss Government in April 2012 declared its readiness to offer Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) to poor developing countries. In so doing, it gave up its demand for information exchange to be built into very complex Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs). Moreover, in February 2014, it began drafting a bill on the unilateral application of information exchange upon request to all DTAs that are not yet in line with this standard. This means that Switzerland's entire DTA network will swiftly be adapted to the current international standard. The draft bill, however, is still pending and will require parliamentary approval.

Erstwhile debt reduction pioneer

Switzerland was one of the first countries to champion debt relief measures. It was reacting to demands from NGOs like Alliance Sud, which as early as the 1980s called for the cancellation of the debts of the poorest countries. The "Development needs Debt Relief" petition garnered considerable popular support in Switzerland and laid the groundwork for the bilateral debt relief program. In 1991 the Government allocated 500 million Swiss francs for debt relief for insolvent and highly indebted countries. What was new about the initiative was that the cancellation of Switzerland's bilateral debt claims was tied to the creation of counterpart funds to finance civil society development projects.

The bilateral debt relief program became the model for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, which was later extended to multilateral debts under the Multilateral Debt Reduction Initiative (MDRI). At Gleneagles in 2005 and pursuant to MDG 8, the G8 countries decided to cancel debts of the poorest countries worth USD 76 billion by 2044/54. On that occasion too, the Swiss Government gave its approval in principle to a Swiss burden share of some USD 866 million in the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and USD 305 million in the African Development Fund (AfDF). This general approval was followed by the first specific commitments, totaling USD 225 million up to 2016/17. These have been regularly honored since 2011 thanks to the ODA increase to 0.5%, and half the amount has already been disbursed.

It is commendable that Switzerland is making its contribution to the MDRI, as many OECD countries are lagging behind. However, MDG 8 calls for debt reduction measures to be financed in addition to ODA, which is expressly intended for pro-poor development programs. It is all the more urgent to find this additional money, as the volume of the MDRI funding agreed on by the international donor community, including Switzerland, will increase markedly in the decades ahead.

Many countries whose debts were partially canceled through the HIPC and MDRI are now again on the brink of insolvency, and debt problems have also gripped southern Europe. Various parliamentarians therefore called for a government report on the possibilities for a regulated and fair State insolvency procedure. According to this report, published in September 2013, the Federal Council is reluctant to advocate internationally for the introduction of such a procedure. It will rather advocate for possible international agreements on collective action clauses and aggregation clauses in sovereign bond contracts.

Promoting the MDGs through development programs

The Millennium Development Goals have also urged donor countries to concentrate their aid even more on the poorer countries. Swiss development cooperation always had a strong humanitarian and poverty reduction focus and unlike other countries, was never withdrawn from rural development. It is known for its hands-on cooperation with local authorities and civil society organizations. Switzerland has repeatedly garnered international praise in that regard. Yet the picture today is somewhat mixed but Switzerland is still profiting from its past reputation.

In real terms, only a quarter of Swiss development aid has been targeting low-income countries (LICs) for many years now. Moreover, in 2008 the Swiss development agencies expanded the scope of development cooperation and started the ”Global Programs” which entail pro-development globalization activities in addition to poverty reduction. They cover for example the two thematic programs of climate change, and finance and trade, which are being implemented in emerging countries like China, India and Brazil. As Switzerland lacks a specific budget for entering into "strategic partnerships" with these countries, there is reason to fear that ODA might be diverted towards foreign policy ends in these instances. On the same basis, the State Secretariat for the Economy (Seco) withdrew from the LICs to focus on some middle income countries instead, with which Switzerland is keen to develop stronger trade relations. Its justification for this reorientation is that poverty needs to be addressed in those countries as well. However, it remains open whether Swiss development agencies are effective in addressing poverty pockets in those countries, as the economic aid overlooks peripheral regions, micro-enterprises and women.

The SDC has indeed used the MDG wording to head off any greater exploitation of ODA. The MDGs have so far only marginally influenced the orientation of Switzerland's programs. According to an external evaluation, the MDGs did not “lead to significant changes in program areas, strategies or project content. The link between MDG and SDC projects has mostly been drawn in the aftermath and used to justify accountability and resource mobilization or the selection of focus countries and sectoral programs.” Moreover, some critical NGOs warn that official development assistance is focusing ever more on "development diplomacy" and losing touch with the field.

Interestingly, the external evaluation gives the SDC good marks precisely for the fact that it has not given up its engagement in the areas of governance and peace building in favor of the MDGs. „In a country like Nepal, characterized by armed conflicts, staying engaged meant focusing on non-MDG sectors (peace building, rural infrastructure, and natural resource management). The decision for these sectors was guided by pragmatic criteria. It was found that the Swiss program could reach the poor best by focusing on a few geographic areas where Switzerland had a long history of collaboration with local authorities.” In Mozambique too, the policy to stay engaged and the multi-agency approach to peace building, development and human rights have yielded good results. In Benin or Nicaragua in contrast, where Switzerland is implementing programs in important MDG areas, success has been tarnished by the lack of ownership on the part of the Government. Not least amongst the reasons for this is that the governments have used the implementation of the MDGs primarily to gain access to funding for urgently needed development and debt relief.

Looking beyond 2015

In summer 2012, a special ambassador and an interdepartmental task force were mandated to draft the Swiss position for the post-2015 agenda. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has the overall lead. From scratch, the task force ran broad public consultations on MDG outcomes, the general scope of the post-2015 agenda and the guiding principles and a participatory process to develop the goals and targets with representatives of all ministries, academia, the private sector and interested NGOs. The process was largely transparent and inclusive, and numerous suggestions and recommendations by Alliance Sud have been taken up. Still, the Swiss position that will be submitted to the Federal Council in June 2014 has its ambiguities.

Switzerland supports a quite ambitious global and universal framework. It will be anchored in all existing international development, human rights and environmental declarations and balance all three dimensions of sustainability in every goal and target. Sustainable development is a State objective enshrined in the Constitution (Arts.2 & 73) and will be a crosscutting issue for all policy areas in the future. It is planned to reflect the final SDGs in the Swiss strategy on sustainable development and in several other sectoral policies and action plans, as well as in the dispatch on Swiss international cooperation 2017-2020. However, Switzerland does not have the best marks when it comes to policy coherence for development. Despite all verbal commitments, it is not very likely that the universal sustainability commitments will have a major impact on sectors most critical to the Swiss economy such as the financial market, or that foreign policies will be aligned with the needs of the least developed.

As the overarching objective, the Swiss position calls for a framework that achieves sustainable development and eradicates extreme poverty while respecting planetary boundaries as well as fostering peace and security. Regarding principles, Switzerland calls for emphatic reference to be made to human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights and for a national action plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It mentions the guiding role of the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) in Swiss development cooperation but fails to make a strong case for its incorporation into the post-2015 agenda in its statements to the Open Working Group (OWG). Further guiding principles mentioned in the Swiss position are social inclusion and justice, universality and policy coherence. However, in spite of intense advocacy work by Alliance Sud, Switzerland refused to mention common but differentiated responsibility. Therefore, it is doubtful whether Switzerland is ready to eliminate the donor-recipient dichotomy through a true mutual partnership and substantial financial assistance.

Regarding the means of implementation, Switzerland follows the canon of the western donors calling for intense cooperation with the private sector and rejects many of Alliance Sud’s recommendations. Switzerland is open to a liberal ODA reform fostering concessional loans, guarantees, private investment mobilization, etc. but shows little commitment to supporting innovative public development finance.

Some of Alliance Sud’s inputs regarding stronger regulation of international trade and capital markets in favor of the developing countries, as well as the need to tackle illicit capital flight and harmful tax practices, have been taken up by the task force. However, it is doubtful that at UN level Switzerland will be a driver in this regard, rather than hide behind the blockage of other developed countries.

Regarding targets and goals, Switzerland claims to play a bridge-building role in the OWG. Generally, the broad consultation has brought about quite ambitious propositions. Nevertheless, the devil lies in the details. Whereas poverty eradication and the multidimensionality of poverty are underlined, the Swiss position evades sound commitments with respect to reducing inequality. The proposed goals on sustainable and inclusive growth, and green economy are so vague and general, that it is unclear whether Switzerland ultimately supports social and ecological equity or merely economic growth. Regarding climate justice, Switzerland explicitly rejects a stand-alone climate goal and favors transversal implementation of climate-relevant targets.

Quite puzzling is the Swiss support for the “Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation” (GPEDC) to become an important pillar in the implementation of the SDG-agenda. The HLM in Mexico has demonstrated its lack of global legitimacy and the institutional weaknesses of the joint OECD-DAC and UNDP secretariat. Despite the shift away from the OECD, many countries still view the GPEDC as a donor-driven process that is not as inclusive as it claims to be. The absence of China and India and the half-hearted engagement by other major emerging donors speak to its declining relevance. Obviously, the inclusion of the private sector and the emerging donors at the HLF in Busan has weakened the development effectiveness agenda and there is nothing to celebrate except the fact that there has been no regression since 2010. The GPEDC could make a contribution in terms of capacity and experience, but would need to get back on track with its core business of monitoring progress in achieving development effectiveness if it wants to become an important player in the post-2015 agenda beyond being a trade conference or industry talking shop. 

On paper, the Swiss position for the sustainable development agenda looks progressive and largely coherent. In the OWG, Switzerland supports many calls from civil society and the global south. However, paper is patient. It remains to be seen whether Switzerland will have the political courage and willingness to be a driving force in the upcoming UN intergovernmental negotiations. It could do so by striving for fair and rights-based global burden sharing, for the introduction of laws which commit transnational companies to accepting their environmental and social responsibilities, and, eventually, for a true ecological and social transformation of the global economy, including the effective regularization of tax, trade and financial market regimes.

Alliance Sud will closely monitor whether the good intentions of the Swiss task force lead to appropriate reforms in all ministries as well as in international politics.


The Czech Republic is heading into a deadly spiral

Unemployment at ten percent, government reforms undermining the economy, antisocial and anti-family policies, corruption among politicians and capital flight from the economy into tax havens, destruction of the instruments of environmental protection, inability of the media to aptly inform on domestic and foreign affairs, low level of cooperation to address the crisis among civic activities – this is last year in the Czech Republic.

Unemployment at ten percent, government reforms undermining the economy, antisocial and anti-family policies, corruption among politicians and capital flight from the economy into tax havens, destruction of the instruments of environmental protection, inability of the media to aptly inform on domestic and foreign affairs, low level of cooperation to address the crisis among civic activities – this is last year in the Czech Republic.

Tomáš Tožička – Editor
Ilona Švihlíková – Economy
Marcela Adamusová, Linda Sokačová – Gender inequality
Halka Jaklová – Civic society
Zuzana Uhde – Female migrants
Milan Štefanec – Environment


The economic development in the Czech Republic is influenced by government policies of fiscal consolidation and proposals of crucial reforms concerning the public sector.

Due to strong fiscal restrictions, domestic demand is plummeting. While in 2011 foreign trade was still able to compensate the drop in other segments of GDP, this was no longer true in the beginning of 2012. In 2011 GDP grew by 1.7 % with a noticeable deceleration in the last two quarters. In the first two quarters of 2012 the Czech economy fell into recession. The decline (-1 % in the 2. quarter) was caused primarily by a decrease in domestic demand, especially the households’ consumption.

As overall analyses of the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) observe, the decline in government consumption was comparable to that of Greece, even though debt (both governmental and complex) is among the lowest in Europe. Equally strong is the reaction of households, which reduce consumption similarly to countries affected by debt crisis.

The Czech Republic continues to pursue an export-led growth model (external growth), though this is very risky due to a strong dependence on the external economic environment on which the country has no influence. The Czech government is making the great mistake of underestimating the importance of domestic demand.

The trade balance of 2011 was positive, but rather than export dynamics, this was caused by a slackening in imports which reflects weak domestic demand. Fiscal consolidation, the focal point of Prime Minister Nečas’s government, has a devastating effect on the economy. A decrease in social spending and growth of indirect taxation (VAT) with a regressive character has the most severe impact on poor people. Moreover, the government is failing totally in collecting VAT and fulfilling plans to collect this tax.

The government does not take into account the impact of these “austerity” measures on vulnerable categories of the population, the impact on domestic demand and the dynamics of foreign development. In short, it could be said that the government lacks of economic vision and focuses on ill-conceived cuts.

Corruption-related wastage and scandals have reached a new high. Estimates vary, but most of them place corruption-related wastage at about CZK 100 billions (USD 5 billions) each year. According to a paper by Global Financial Integrity, a Washington D.C. based NGO, USD 7 billions disappear from the Czech Republic each year through illicit tax evasion. Yet the Minister of Finance does not consider tax evasion to be important. In spite of the declared unfavorable situation the taxation of dividends has been abolished, resulting in a loss of about CZK 9 billions (USD 452 billions).

The government keeps “solving” the pressure on public finance by opening up new space for privatization of public systems. The introduction of a (voluntary) third pillar into the pensions system is scheduled for the coming years, draining 3% off the pay-as-you-go system and thus increasing the pensions account deficit, which reached a new high of almost CZK 40 billions (USD 2 billions) in 2011. Among other considered measures to the same effect are strengthening the position of private employment agencies, introduction of tuition fees, of so-called “above-standard services” into the healthcare system, etc.

Restraints, loan sharks and financial intermediaries of all kinds pose another rising problem of the Czech society, with little or no data available of its extent. Legal offices and other debt lobbyists are connected to this growing network. According to data from the Central restraints evidence there are currently more than 2.23 million pending seizures.

The budget deficit for 2011 has reached CZK 142.8 billions (some USD 7.2 billions), reduced to CZK 124.2 billions (USD 6.25 billions) under ESA 95 methodology, the difference being whether drawing money from European funds is considered. The budget for 2012 was as unrealistic as in 2008, when the Ministry of Finance “erroneously” overestimated economic growth by an incredible 9 percentage points. It was entirely unrealistic to include a significant growth in domestic demand and positive terms of trade into estimates of economic development.

It was therefore that, in the beginning of 2012, “stabilizing measures” were announced and later approved for the coming years. These measures should include some as drastic as freezing pensions (almost CZK 12 billions –USD 604 millions– in 2013, up to CZK 24 billions –1.21 billions– in 2014), another increase in VAT, abolition of maternity grants and housing payments. Proposals also include a temporary (!) restoration of progression in corporate income taxation. The combined effect of VAT growth, increase in payments for drugs and health care services (fees for hospital stays) and changes in the valorization scheme will strongly affect and further impoverish seniors.

Legislative regulation of civic associations

On January 1, 2011, an amendment to the law on “public benefit corporations” came into effect. This amendment includes a very controversial regulation of the status of “public benefit” as well as advantages and obligations bound to this status. Critics have pointed out the risk that granting or removing the status of “public benefit”, which will constitute access to grants, can be used as a form of oppression against organizations not wanted by the ruling political establishment.

Institutional security and support for the policy of equal opportunities

The year 2011 saw many changes in the institutional protection of equal opportunities for women and men. Unfortunately these were not positive changes. The equal opportunities policy has been turned into an entirely marginalized topic in the Czech Republic, outside the scope of interest of the government and often presented by both the political representation and the media as unacceptable “dictatorship of Brussels officials”. Since the May 2010 elections and all through 2011 the Governmental council for equal opportunities of women and men has not resumed their work. People with very conservative attitudes and little experience with the agenda have been appointed to important positions in the section of human rights and equal opportunities. 

This attitude is reflected in the grant policy in this area. Few projects concerning equal opportunities of women and men are announced, and those few focus almost solely on the harmonization with EU legislation. In the last call within Operational Program Human Resources and Employment, none of the established non-profit NGOs succeeded despite their long-standing experience and expertise, while on the other hand private subjects that have never engaged in this issue and whose activities are unrelated to it were successful. Alone the fact that these subjects were often established just before the call was published is a clear sign of corruption.

Reform and women’s position in the Czech Republic

2011 has been another year of preparing and implementing neoliberal reforms in social and labor legislative passed by the ruling coalition of right-wing parties against the protests from both the political opposition and a number of civic organizations. This block of changes was presented to the public under the name “social reform”. It is a complex alteration of all social allowances for parents, handicapped people and members of low-income groups, together with changes in payment of unemployment benefits and changes affecting the status of the unemployed. These changes are furthermore accompanied by changes in the Labor Code, where many of them are weakening the position of employees. Most of these changes are effective since January 2012.

Problems can also be caused by changes in the definition of “public service”, which since January 1, 2012, also includes unemployed people, who have been receiving benefits for more than two months. These represent up to 20 hours per week in the form of compulsory work as a requirement for receiving unemployment benefits. People who refuse to service shall be removed from the register of the employment office. This is a principal suppression of social and human rights. Apart from this fact, it is unclear how the people unemployed due to the discrimination of those caring for children, which is a common thing in the Czech Republic, or those unable to place their children in overcrowded public nurseries shall provide their children with appropriate care.

The amendment also prohibits the concourse of drawing parental allowance and childcare allowance for parents of handicapped children, which brings about a significant worsening of the economic situation of such families and mainly of women, who typically leave work to take care of the household. Since this is accompanied by an increase of fees for hospital stays and the prices of medicaments have increased with the change in VAT, the financial situation of families with handicapped children is often critical.

Female migrants

In response to the economic crisis the Czech Republic has adopted a number of legislative measures to tighten the conditions of obtaining and prolonging work, residence and family reunification permits. The Czech migration policy can well be considered restrictive and aiming at greater control and repression of foreigners, not at guarantee the respect of their rights, including the labor rights.

The strictest measures affect male and female migrant workers in unqualified job positions, i.e. the group of people that often find themselves in a very vulnerable position towards the employer. Since January 2012 the sanction for illegally employed workers has also been increased to up to CZK 100,000 (USD 5,033). Such restrictive measures and the policies against migrating workers are played directly by employers, who can threaten their illegally employed workers with reporting them to the authorities in case of disobedience.


The Ministry of Regional Development has proposed an amendment to the Building Act which would considerably restrict the possibilities of civic organizations to participate in licensing procedures (and not only in the case of large industrial projects and infrastructure). The proposed amendment to the Act has disqualified civic organizations from certain phases of the licensing procedures and restricted the authority of local administration and owners of neighboring property. In reaction to this ministerial proposal a broad coalition of environmental organizations, civic initiatives and local administrations was created, demanding not only to preserve and increase the present possibilities of the public to influence licensing procedures, but also to decrease the power of so-called “authorized inspectors”, since in the past years they (just like distrainers) became the symbol of privatization of the public administration and of bypassing the objections of the public and property owners and legalizing illegal construction. In 2012, with the support of the ombudsman’s office and part of the public, an informal coalition of civic initiatives succeeded to preserve and increase the involvement of the public in the amended law, and also to formulate clear rules and public control over the problematic institute of “authorized inspectors”.

The Ministry of the Environment has also continued in the systematic destruction of environmental protection policies as the new minister replaced his party college, who resigned after the exposure of a yet unresolved corruption scandal in which money from the State Environmental Fund was diverted into the cash box of the leading government party. The new Minister of the Environment has become famous in the past, as an important representative of the now ruling party, thanks to the speech he delivered at a party congress: “We have to bring back capitalism to Europe. We have to make sure it is not Brussels, it is not civic associations, it is not the smartest governments, not labor unions and not eco-terrorists, who decides the lifestyle of Europeans.”

The government has also decided that emission permits were issued free of charge, primarily to big industrial and energetic companies, in the value of CZK 47.5 billions until 2020(USD 2,4 billions), stripping the state of significant resources necessary for installing environmental and social measures, while at the same time decreasing the regulatory effect of emission permits.

In 2011 there were also discussions about changing the air pollution fees. In this battle the industrial lobby was victorious in the end, represented among others by former right-wing Prime Minister and current leader of lobbyist group Teplárenské sdružení (Heating Plant Association) Mirek Topolánek. Through “their” MP’s (both from the government parties and the opposition), the greatest air polluters in the Czech Republic have pushed through exceptions from paying pollution fees in 2012 and will continue to pollute the air and damage both the environment and the citizens’ health free of charge.

Change in society

Due to undisguised corruption among the political elites, growing through the communal level and through regional politics up into the highest ranks, the citizens are increasingly dissatisfied with the present system. This is also perceptible from mainstream media, which to date remained very conservative and only showed little interest in deeper criticism leading to systemic change. Slowly they begin displaying systemic criticism, but there is still a lack of ability to work with independent and verified sources and to draw relevant conclusions.

The corruption of political elites, directed by the richest representatives of industry and banking and accompanied by a real unemployment of 10%, as well as pauperization of the poorest and the middle class, gives the citizens good reason for dissatisfaction. The reactions of civic activities vary from attempts of a constructive discussion with political parties to demonstration. They remain, however, extremely fragmented and thus play no important part in the political discourse.

The division of society remains an important factor, especially in the lower and middle classes. Although social expenditures are just a fraction in comparison with corruption or tax evasion and although the unemployed or socially excluded can hardly be blamed for the present crisis, it is them who bear the brunt of the attacks. These are often accompanied by racist rhetoric. On the other hand, criticism of the political and economic elite, who are responsible for this crisis, remains quite rare.

Political parties, including the present left-wing opposition, have yet failed to introduce any constructive proposals for a realistic dialogue with citizens. Any hope that the present or future government will attempt to democratize society, open up its institutions for greater citizens’ participation and move towards securing a decent life for all inhabitants of the country seems unrealistic so far. The influence of capital on media and politics still shows a strong tendency towards human rights violations.

Czech Republic on MDGs Agenda

Czechia Against Poverty is a network of more than 50 organization. In their campaign they have discussed the future of development and stated that together with the general objectives laid out by the MDGs there is a need for issuing road maps on how to achieve them. Furthermore, special attention has to be paid to other spheres, which are crucial for the basic goals and development in general. The Czech organizations united in Czechia Against Poverty decided to focus the attention of the public to four such spheres in the last year:

■ Achieving food security as a common responsibility of the South and North: In rich countries it is necessary to reduce food waste. Agriculture should concentrate particularly on local production, which provides for the needs of the inhabitants, and on using sustainable methods without dependence on transnational monopolies.

■ Promoting decent work: Call for minimum standards, strengthening national labor law and international control over compliance with this law. Through these measures positively influence not only the situation of employees in less developed countries, but also reduce the possibilities of capital transfer and extortion of employees and national governments in developed countries.

■ Providing electrification for all by 2030: Energy is the basic mover of development. If one quarter of the planet – especially in poor areas and rural areas – does not have access to electricity, it is hard to imagine its social economic development. Effective education, health services, crafts, production and food processing all require electricity.

■ Rebuilding the global financial architecture remains the key point: There is a need to reduce the speculative casino that exists with financial derivatives and vital commodities and to eliminate the possibilities of tax evasion through tax havens.


The Goals that Malta want to achieve - Ends

In September 2000, Malta became a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and promised to contribute towards eradicating world poverty. In 2005, after entering the European Union (EU), Malta became part of the European Consensus on Development common objectives and underlying principles and the European Union’s common vision on development, setting poverty eradication as ‘the primary and overarching objective of EU development cooperation’. Like all EU New Member States (NMS), Malta promised to reach a level of official development assistance (ODA) amounting to 0.17% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2010 and to increase its ODA/GNI ratio to 0.33% by 2015. The question arises: Is Malta keeping its promises towards eradicating world poverty?

Joseph M. Sammut

In September 2000, Malta became a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and promised to contribute towards eradicating world poverty. In 2005, after entering the European Union (EU), Malta became part of the European Consensus on Development common objectives and underlying principles and the European Union’s common vision on development, setting poverty eradication as ‘the primary and overarching objective of EU development cooperation’. Like all EU New Member States (NMS), Malta promised to reach a level of official development assistance (ODA) amounting to 0.17% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2010 and to increase its ODA/GNI ratio to 0.33% by 2015. The question arises: Is Malta keeping its promises towards eradicating world poverty?

Policy towards poverty eradication

In October 2007 the Government launched its first Overseas Development Policy document . It is based on the values that underpin Malta’s Foreign Policy: solidarity, respect for the international rule of law – including humanitarian law – and the furtherance of democracy, human rights and good governance.

The policy also endorses the important role played by non-state actors – the private sector, social and economic partners and civil society in general – who have become major players in international development cooperation. It aims to provides the basis for a healthy dialogue between Government and civil society and offers the latter opportunity to put into effect its valuable knowledge, experience and expertise. Like other NGOs worldwide, many of those in Malta have years of experience and fieldwork and run more development projects and programmes than those funded by official aid agencies. NGOs are invited to submit small grant proposals for “on the ground” projects in the Majority World.

The Overseas Development Policy acknowledges that development, especially economic development, cannot come about unless there is a secure and stable political climate in the countries receiving development assistance. It also recognizes that the lack of good governance, development and security are factors that contribute to migration as well as a brain drain in the developing world, especially if economic problems such as a high rate of inflation and unemployment prevail. Thus, the Policy provides a framework for humanitarian assistance in which Malta recognizes the continuum between emergency relief, rehabilitation and development. Post-emergency rehabilitation a

Malta Overseas Development Policy creates a basic framework for development aid and emphasizing all important aspects of development cooperation.

Not all aid is development aid

The first ODA statistics available for Malta are of 2004 and 2005, showing a figure of EUR 7.8 and 7.0 million, equivalent to 0.18% of its GNI, respectively. This registered Malta as the highest donor country among the ten NMS which joined the EU in May 2004. ODA statistics in 2006 are EUR 6.8 million and 7.5 million for 2007. This registered a decrease from the previous two years, from 0.18% to 0.15% of GNI.

Although the statistics shows that Malta is reaching the targets articulated in its promises, it was highly criticized in consecutive reports published by Concord, the European Confederation for Relief and Development NGOs, of inflating aid figures and of not being transparent in its donations. Concord brings 24 national associations, working together through what is known as the AidWatch Initiative, of which Kopin is an active member writing the Maltese reports.

Concord’s AidWatch Report (2006), criticises the Maltese Government for not being transparent in how ODA funds are being allocated and which organisations and initiatives are benefiting from it. AidWatch state that Malta is inflating the amount by including spending on refugees inside the country. More specifically, it is of great concern for CSOs in Malta that the Maltese Government seemingly invests a great amount of ODA funds in the detention of irregular migrants. Many of these are asylum seekers, and most of these in fact receive acknowledgement of their vulnerability by means of refugee status or other forms of protection. This in effect means that detention is a prophylaxis, which NGOs consider as a violation of human rights and international migration law.

The Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), in the budgetary estimates for 2007, shows how EUR 175, 618 of ODA were allocated between 11 different development organisations . Only two out of 11 grants focused on Africa and some aid money was spent on conferences and a cemetery which in actual fact does not qualify as money to help poor people to develop. The bulk of the funds were spent on bilateral aid, scholarships to foreign students in Malta and towards refugees in their first year in Malta or for their repatriation.

The 2006 AidWatch Report states that genuine ODA is understood to be money allocated as development aid to improve the welfare of the poor in developing countries and not money spent on refugees or foreign students attending school in the donor country. In addition, Malta wrote off EUR 6.5 million in debt owed by Iraq in 2004, and this was included as part of its ODA for 2003–2005. The MFA refuses to issue a clear and transparent breakdown of the declarations it made to the EC on its ODA.

In 2008 the Maltese Government managed to overcome the promised amount of 0.17% of GNI towards eradicating world poverty.   There was some improvement in transparency in ODA. The MFA statistics show the amount of ODA given as multilateral aid to UN and EU development programmes as well as the funds distributed among Maltese organisations working on development projects.

Malta ODA Statistics



% of

Capita (EUR)

Aid to


Transparent ODA of the Bilateral Aid



% of






































11,095, 597



3, 732, 118

7, 363, 479





  9,832, 609



4, 403, 976

5, 428,633


299, 700 (5.52%)



10,418, 476



4, 075, 895

6, 342, 581


465, 328 (7.34%)



14,358, 297



4, 791, 672

9, 566, 625


928, 237 (9.70%)






5, 315 ,558

9, 142, 696


559, 505






4, 738, 353

9, 016, 790

90, 526**



Malta Foreign Affairs.
* Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family
** The Times of Malta Thursday, July 4, 2013 ‘Maltese overseas charitable projects receive aid’ Available at: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20130704/local/maltese-overseas-charitable-projects-receive-aid.476552

ODA % of GNI: Percentage ODA of the Gross National Income.

Multilaterally Aid: Aid donated to UN and European organisations working in development programmes in poor countries.

Bilaterally Aid: Aid given to Maltese organisations working on development projects abroad and aid spend on refugees during their first year in Malta.

ODA per capita: The total amount of ODA as per Maltese citizen (400,000)

The 2010 AidWatch Report acknowledges that official figures show that, in 2009, Malta maintained ODA levels at 0.19% of GNI. It adds, however, that there are no traces of the 43% ODA budget increase announced last year. According to the report, national NGDOs are concerned about potential aid inflation, mainly through reporting as ODA expenses related to irregular migration and students from developing countries. "Unfortunately, detailed information has not been made available and the real extent of the problem remains unclear.  A breakdown of aid figures has never been made available," claims AidWatch. AidWatch Report 2012   insists that Malta may have inflated its development aid to poorer countries by 28%, by factoring in money it spends on asylum seekers at home when these funds does not actually leave the country.

The year 2011 show that the government increased ODA to 0.25% of GNI which is a substantial increase over the previous years and also indicate that the Government is in fact aiming towards the 0.33% in 2015.  In 2012 and 2013 there was a decrease to 0.23% and 0.20% of the GNI.

When contacted, the Foreign Affairs Ministry   said Malta’s estimated ODA contribution was 0.25% and the government was “fully committed” to reaching the 0.33% target. A spokesman added that Malta complied with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DCA) regulations, even though it was not a member. This meant that the country fulfilled its international obligations of ODA reporting and allocation, the spokesman said. Negotiations to publish full details continue but for now there is no agreement among member states. According to MFA, Malta is prepared to disclose the full details once all member states reach an agreement.

The Government hence argues that Malta is not legally obliged to release detailed data on development-related spending. Yet, as has been observed by the AidWatch Working Group , transparency and the right of access to public information is a basic civil right, which cannot be ignored or shelved. The Government also insists it would continue to credit Malta's immigration expenditure to its ODA so long as this was in line with criteria of the OECD.

Significant improvements were noted between MFA and Maltese NGOs lately. The AidWatch 2012 Report  says that over the past two years the MFA and SKOP, the National Platform of Maltese NGDOs , Malta's broadest network of voluntary and non-governmental organisations working in international development cooperation and humanitarian aid, have engaged in structured dialogue that has contributed to improvements in terms of collaboration and exchange of opinions.  AidWatch 2013 quotes Ambassador S. Falzon, Head of Development Unit – MFA, “The Maltese Government believes that the Busan agreement is an improvement on both the Paris and the Accra agreements reflecting the need for fresh approaches to and developments in ODA for both donor and recipient countries.”  The Busan Agreement sets out principles, commitments and actions that offer a foundation for effective co-operation in support of international development.

SKOP and its members are now hoping for further structured collaboration and the development of an equal partnership for development between the government and civil society. Malta stands to benefit if it manages to coordinate its resources and expertise, for instance with regard to meeting the MDGs.

Breakthrough in Transparency

In 2012 we have a breakthrough in transparency with the Maltese Government disseminating the accounts for the expenditure ODA money (see table below) .

Malta’s official Development Assistance (ODA) expenditure for 2012 by Heading (MFA)

Bilateral Assistance




477, 539


Latin America

126, 364



145, 167


(Bilateral Assistance to developing countries)

(749, 070)


Bilateral Unallocated



Ministry of Education (MEE)

559, 505


Ministry for Home Affairs

7, 154, 052


Ministry of Health, the Elderly and Community

302, 379


(ODA spend on Migrants in Malta)

(8, 015, 936)


Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Maltese NGDOs)

377, 689


Total Bilateral

9, 142, 695


Multilateral Assistance



U.N. Organisations



EU Institutions

4, 390, 000


World Bank Group

490, 519


Other Agencies

229, 724


Total Multilateral

5, 315, 558


Total ODA

14, 458, 254





The data for 2012 give a clear picture of where Maltese ODA is being spent. Bilateral Assistance is being spent in, developing countries in 3 continents, Maltese NGOs and money spent by 3 Ministry for services in Malta.  Multilateral Assistance show how the money was distributed between different agencies.  Analysing the data how Bilateral Assistance is distributed, one has to note that money spend by the 3 different ministries are money spend on services concerning asylum seekers in Malta.  As quoted above by AidWatch Report 2006  genuine ODA is understood to be money allocated as development aid to improve the welfare of the poor in developing countries and not money spent on asylum seekers in the donor country.  The criticism by Maltese and International NGDOs has been proved right.  Funds promised for poverty eradication in poor countries must be given towards this aim. We like to remind the Maltese Government, as we noted in our previous Social Watch Report in 2010 that Malta was and still is being co-funded by the EU towards the upkeep of refugees rescue and sustainment in Malta.

Malta was criticized by the Commissioner for Justice, Jacques Barrot on a visit to Malta in 2009.  Barrot in 2009 stated, the island had been allocated over EUR 126 million in funds to spend from 2007 to 2013 in the field of asylum, immigration and border control. At that time Barrot observed critically that the country had only spent EUR 18 million. According to estimates published in the local press, Malta was allocated EUR 24.4 million in 2007, EUR 32.5 million in 2008 and EUR 18 million for each year until 2013, plus other entitlements and grants for situations that may have arisen. This aid should be fully utilized. ODA should not be inflated by adding the costs of housing refugees, especially not by financing prophylaxis detention. Instead, the Government should make full use of the aid offered by the EU for refugees and asylum seekers than Malta was allotted by the EU, whilst investing ODA funds in Majority World countries, also increasingly through CSO channels.


Malta must:

  • Use ODA money as development aid to improve the welfare of the poor in the least developing countries.            
  • Keep its promises to reach its ODA/GNI ratio to 0.33% by 2015 towards eradicating poverty in the least developed countries.                        
  • Continue to improve transparency and accountability in the coming years as shown in 2012 ODA budget.  MFA must be congratulated for transparency as this result in the respect of where tax payer’s money is going.   
  • Reframe from adding asylum seekers cost and expenditure as ODA but utilise the budget allocated from EU funds.
  • Devise a clear policy and strategy in choosing and donating aid targeted towards poverty eradication.
  • Special attention should be given towards cross-cutting issues, such as children’s rights and women’s empowerment.
  • Collaborate with the main stake holders to make the most efficient use of the money allotted.
  • NGDOs are encouraged to scale up their efforts in advocacy and in raising the awareness of the public in campaigns so that they could become more active citizens that pressurise their leaders to be accountable towards their promises in eradicating world poverty.
  • MFA should collaborate with the international community and be a leader and role model in transparency and in eradicate poverty.  The lack of transparency and accountability in ODA translate in a mere lack of good governance. Maltese politicians should change their attitudes and be transparent in their ODA money and become role models for other nations working toward eradicating poverty and bring peace and stability among the North and South.


Aid Watch 2006: EU aid: genuine leadership or misleading figures? Available at: http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/static/files/assets/0c88b2c9/AidWatch_2006.pdf

Vella M. ‘ Malta aid figures show little cash reaches world’s poorest’ . Available at: http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2008/11/16/t8.html

Aid Watch 2006: EU aid: genuine leadership or misleading figures? Available at: http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/static/files/assets/0c88b2c9/AidWatch_2006.pdf

C. Calleja, “Blessed are the poor,” Times of Malta, 16 April 2006.


AIDWATCH REPORT 2010: PENALTY AGAINST POVERTY. Available at: http://www.concordeurope.org/103-aidwatch-report-2010

AIDWATCH REPORT 2012: INVEST MORE IN GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT. Available at: http://www.concordeurope.org/101-aidwatch-report-2012

Sarah Carabott The Times  Saturday, June 30, 2012  ‘Island praised for its global aid assistance’ http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120630/local/Island-praised-for-its-global-aid-assistance.426539

AIDWATCH REPORT 2012: INVEST MORE IN GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT.  Available at:  http://www.concordeurope.org/101-aidwatch-report-2012

Sarah Carabott The Times  Saturday, June 30, 2012  ‘Island praised for its global aid assistance’

AIDWATCH REPORT 2012: INVEST MORE IN GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT. Available at:  http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/new-aidwatch-report-2013/

KOPIN is a member of SKOP

AidWatch Report 2013, ‘THE UNIQUE ROLE OF EUROPEAN.  Available at: http://www.concordeurope.org/101-aidwatch-report-2

Busan Agreement: Available at: http://www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/49650173.pdf (cited 6th June)

No breakdown statistics have been given for 2013 till the writing of the report - 6th June 2014 

Aid Watch 2006: EU aid: genuine leadership or misleading figures? Available at: http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/static/files/assets/0c88b2c9/AidWatch_2006.pdf

Social Watch Report 2010. Available at:  http://www.socialwatch.org/node/12093

“Only €18 million spent from €126m in EU migration funds,” Malta Today, 18 March 2009. Available at: <www.maltatoday.com.mt/2009/03/18/t2.html>.


The government needs to improve social and gender policies

Since the end of the Korean War in 1950, the country has achieved sustained economic growth. GDP, which at that time was US$ 67, doubled in a decade, between 2000 and 2010, Korea joined the OECD in 1996 and achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But inequality, as a side effect of economic growth, is present. There is no more extreme poverty but diversified poverty, and society still has challenges that are not shown by the indicators. The government's economic policy has encouraged assembling industry export-oriented with cheap labor. Between 2000 and 2009, relative poverty rates for children, seniors and women increased. Poverty is concentrated in the elderly at female level, low education, vulnerable health and in rural areas. It is clear that the government needs to implement policies to reduce socioeconomic inequality that go beyond reducing inequity and poverty, by creating quality jobs and social protection programs.

Ewijeong Jeong
CCEJ, South Korea

Korea has achieved condensed economic growth since the end of the Korean War in the 1950s. Korea joined OECD in 1996, and became 24th member of DAC while achieving most of the MDGs. Korea aims to play a role as a bridge between donors and partners as an emerging donor of OECD/DAC by G20 Seoul Summit in 2010 and Busan 4th High Level Forum on Aid effectiveness in 2011. On the other hand, Korea has experienced socio economic inequality as a side effect from condensed economic growth. The government builds ‘Korean ODA model’ and fragments aid structure.

No more extreme poverty, but diversified poverty

Korea achieved most of the MDGs, but the society has remained challenges which are not shown in MDGs indicators. Right after the Korean War, the GDP was USD 67 and belonged at the group of the Least Developed Countries (LDC). The government of Korea pushed economy policy targeted to improve export-oriented assembling industry with cheap domestic labor forces. By the intensive support of the government, export-oriented industry of conglomerates has been lead Korea’s economic growth and the GDP got doubled from USD 533.5 billion in 2000 to USD 1014.3 billion in 2010. The government has relocated the fund from international market mostly to manufacturing, export, conglomerate, metropolitan area, and hometown of former presidents and it has deepened the gaps between regions, industries, social stratums, and sectors. The economy had stroked by Asia financial crisis in 1997 and global financial crisis in 2008. The economy has recovered but inequality and polarization of poverty got worsened. It is because lack of social protection mechanism and it raised working poor and self-employed small business owner as vulnerable group with traditional vulnerable groups, indigent children, female household, the disabled, and the elderly.

To overcome the financial crisis, the current government, so called MB administration, employed tax cut policies and job creation policies through the 4 major rivers project. However, mostly conglomerates have been benefited from the tax cuts. Besides, the 4 major rivers project has increased day laborers rather than stable full-time jobs which has benefited to construction conglomerates. The government funded USD 7.42 billion on welfare budget in 2009 which was USD 1.2 billion higher than previous year. But the cash assistance policy faced challenges of polarization in the economic structure. According to Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA), in 2006 14.2% of households of 4 made less than a minimum cost of living, USD 1080 per month and in 2010 17.6% of household of 4 made less than USD 1258 per month. The percentage got doubled in rural areas compared to metropolis because of relatively lower income and high population of the elderly in rural areas.

From 2000 to 2009, relative poverty rates of child, the elderly, and female household were increased. The child poverty rate was higher in rural areas and to age of 12-18. The main reasons of the child poverty are the conditions of households when they are female, the elderly, low level of education, single source of income with day labor. The elderly poverty is concentrated in female, low level of education, vulnerable health condition, and rural areas. The Female household suffers more when the household is old, low level of education, less source of income, large number of under aged children, and has part-time jobs. By those facts, it is clear that the government has to adopt policies to reduce socioeconomic inequality and poverty which are further than relocation of wealth, by creating quality jobs and reducing blind spots of social protection programs.

Facing challenges to empower women

Korea has low level of gender equality in terms of decision making initiatives. According to The Global Gender Gap Report of World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2011, Korea ranked 111th among 125 countries at legislators, senior officers, and managers, ranked 79th among 130 countries at women in parliaments, ranked 75th among 129 countries at women in ministerial positions. The government statistic showed that female ratio of government officer increased from 34% in 2003 to 41.8% in 2010 but female ratio of deputy director increased from 5.9% in 2003 to 9.0% in 2010. The government has propelled policies to promote female ratio, for example Women's Employment Target System (1998~2002), Gender Equality Employment Target System (2003~2007), System to Expand ratio of Women managers (2007~2011), and 40% of female participation at the government council. Korea adopted the Equal Employment Opportunity Law in 1989 and declared Affirmative Action to promote female recruitment, but according to Women on Boards Report in 2011, only 1.9% of women were on boards and 0% was at companies with at least three female directors. Right before 16th general election, the Political Party Law was amended to guarantee 30 % of female local council members and 50% of female parliament members for proportion representatives. The ratios of female representatives increased from 5.9% in 2000 to 13.7% in 2010 for parliaments and from 2.3% in 2000 to 20.3% in 2010 for local council.

In 2007, 49% of B.A. were female. However, the OECD Gender Wage Gaps research in 2009 said Korea recorded the widest gap of 38.9% between male and female which were double of OECD average. Korea women still suffer from sexual discrimination in political, social, economic representation and the government has to improve enthusiastic policies.

Challenges of Korean ODA Model

As an emerging donor, Korea reached many of OECD Peer reviews recommendation after join of OECD/DAC in 2010, but Korea faces challenges in tied/untied ODA ratio, ODA/GNI ratio, and aid for Least Developed Countries (LDC). The untied ODA ratio reached 70% in 2007 but down sized to 60% from the next year, and the ratio will be remained in the same for a while by ‘the Strategies for the Advancement of International Development’ of the government. Korea has assisted more ODA to the Lower Middle Income Countries (LMIC) rather than LDCs, because the purposes of Korea’s ODA are economic cooperation and energy resources of LMICs rather than humanitarian.

Korea’s aid structure is fragmented by Ministry of Foreign and Trade for untied aid and Ministry of Strategy and Finance for tied aid. Untied aid is scattered more by ODA budget of each ministry, local government and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The DAC Peer review has raised awareness that the fragmentation is a key reason of aid ineffectiveness, duplication of ODA, and poor monitoring.

The government pushes ‘the Korean ODA model’ which is exporting Korea’s condensed economic growth policies to partner countries without recognizing the side effects of the growth. The model is criticized because it is in contrast to ownership of partner countries at the Paris Declaration.


The long road to achieve the MDGs

Evidence in Nepal suggests that the root causes of the political conflict include not only the severity of poverty and inequality but also the sense of entrenchment - that opportunities are limited or non-existent for the poor to climb out of poverty. Therefore, addressing constraints on the inclusiveness of development is critical in order to make a real difference in the lives of Nepalis and reduce the risks of instability. Systemic changes in the development approach must be undertaken to adequately address the needs and priorities of the excluded and marginalized sections of the society. A stable political structure upon which well-informed policies, institutions and mechanisms can function over time is a major determinant for people’s empowerment and strengthening Nepal’s peace and fragile democracy.

Pamir Gautam, Prerna Bomzan
Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN)

Aimed at improving the quality of human life worldwide, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) contained in the Millennium Declaration; however, fall short of addressing the structural problems of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease, environmental destruction and development effectiveness. Moreover, the goals are not inclusive of critical issues of human rights and justice, which are essential for poverty eradication and sustainable development. Hence, the MDGs represent the very minimum standards that must be achieved for the world’s citizens[1].

Nepal being one of the UN-defined least developed countries (LDCs) is characterized by poverty as well as vulnerability, not only on socio-economic terms but, also acute geographical and environmental constraints. It is a landlocked mountain country susceptible to frequent glacial lake outbursts and earthquakes, with the increasing climate change catastrophe further subjecting it to erratic precipitation as well as heat and cold spells. Nonetheless, against this background, Nepal has made significant progress towards the MDGs.

The overall population living below the national poverty line decreased from 42% in 1996 to 25.4% in 2011. Similarly, there has been a decrement in the country’s Gini coefficient of inequality from 0.45 in 2008 to 0.32 in 2011. However, when measured at $2 per day poverty line, 77.6% of the Nepalese population lives below this threshold[2]. Moreover, reduction of poverty has been uneven and inequalities continue to remain a challenge on Nepal’s development path.

Increased spending on the health sector has seen great strides and hence, Nepal is likely to achieve the goals related to health by 2015. In September 2010, Nepal received the MDGs Award for outstanding national leadership, commitment and progress towards achieving MDG 5 on improving maternal health. However, maternal health care is inadequate and maternal mortality still remains unacceptably high. Even the progress made is disproportionately concentrated away from the disadvantaged: 92% of the wealthiest Nepali women receive antenatal care from a skilled provider, while only 33% of the poorest do; and only a dismal 11% of the poorest women receive delivery services from skilled birth attendants compared to over four fifths of the wealthiest women (82%)[3].

A boost to the education budget also has helped in making remarkable improvement on MDG 2. The Net Enrolment Rate (NER) at primary levels is 95.1% and the corresponding gender parity is 0.99. However, the overall survival rate to grade five and grade eight is 82.8% and 67.5% respectively[4]. Despite having made progress in enrollment rate, the quality of education imparted is still questionable. In 2011, only 46% of students from public schools passed the SLC (tenth grade national exam) compared to 90% from private schools[5].

Nepal’s MDGs’ Progress Status at a Glance





Percentage of Poor (National Poverty line)

42 (1990)

25.4 (2010)


Underweight children under five years of age

57 (1990)

31 (2011)[6]


Net Enrollment Rate in primary education[7]

64 (90)

93.7 (2010)


Ratio of girls and boys in primary education

0.56 (1990)

0.99 (2011)


Under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)[8]

141 (1990)

48 (2011)


Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)[9]

97 (1990)

39 (2011)


Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births)[10]

850 (1990)

229 (2010)


Skilled birth attendance (%)[11]

7.4 (1991)

28.8 (2010)


Forest cover (% land area)

33.7 (1990)

25.4 (2010)


Safe drinking water (% population)[12]

76 (1990)

89 (2010)


Basic sanitation (% population)[13]

10 (1990)

31 (2010)


Despite considerable progress, there are glaring gaps as Nepal’s development trend is characterized by an increase in food insecurity and hunger, unemployment and underemployment, gender-based discrimination and violence, rich-poor divide, foreign aid dependency, political instability and rampant corruption.

Employment provides the only sustainable means of poverty reduction but achieving decent employment is a formidable challenge for Nepal. The Nepal Labour Force Survey 2008 states that the largely informal agriculture sector employs 74% of the currently employed labor force aged 15 and above. As much as 70% of those with main jobs outside agriculture also fall in the informal sector. Comparing all age groups, unemployment is highest among the youth. Forty-six percent of Nepal’s youth labor force in the 20-24 age group is underutilized. Both, rural and urban unemployment among youth have increased; the latter almost doubled from 7.6% to 13% in the last ten years. At the same time, the employment-to-population ratio has declined and the underemployment ratio has increased. Only 16% are employed in the service sector while 10% in the secondary sector.

In fact, the progress achieved in reducing poverty in Nepal is the result of high remittance inflow as around 56% of Nepali households receive remittances. Including students, estimates for the total number of Nepalese living outside Nepal range from 3 to 5 million. This would imply that between one third and one half of the population aged between 15 and 34 years are currently outside the country[14].

Little progress has been made on improving neonatal mortality with 38.8% of under-five children in Nepal being underweight. An unacceptable number of peoples particularly children still die each year in Nepal from diarrheal diseases. Access to health services in rural areas is significantly worse than in urban areas due to lack of facilities and high levels of absenteeism among health workers. Even though Nepal has made progress in ensuring safe drinking water for 89% of its population, 69% of the population still lacks the facility of improved sanitation[15].

The persistence of poverty in Nepal is due to lack of political will and vision of the State to address the structural causes of the problem. Poverty originates in unequal command over both economic and political resources within society and the unjust nature of a social order which has created and perpetuates these inequities[16]. These inequities in turn are creating an atmosphere of deprivation and human insecurity in Nepal. Moreover, the neo-liberal international aid architecture which undermines people-centred development only adds to the creation and perpetuation of poverty and inequity in the country. The fiscal year 2011/12 shows that the per capita debt burden has expanded by over 21 % to almost USD 238.

Gender Justice, a Far Cry

Nepal has ratified the CEDAW, thereby legally binding itself to put the CEDAW provisions into practice. Further, the Gender Equality Act 2006; the National Women’s Commission Act 2007; the Human Trafficking and Transportation (Control) Act 2007; the Domestic Violence (Crime and Punishment Act) 2009 and the 5-year strategic plan of the National Women’s Commission (2009-2014) have all been put in place. However, little or no implementation of these legal provisions remains a major challenge.

Apart from continuing efforts to invest in legal, economic, political and social institutions for ending gender discrimination, gender-based violence and empowering women, they still suffer from economic, social, and cultural discrimination. Though women's contribution to agricultural production is above 60%, the total land holding is only 8%. Over 70% women workers are confined to self- employed, unpaid and low wage informal activities whereas 12% of women are in the civil service and 1.76 % is in the judicial service[17]. In 2009, of total female government employees, 78% were in non-gazetted categories, 16% were in classless categories, and only 6% were in gazetted positions. Non-gazetted officers are basically support staff with no decision-making power. Even women’s representation at the officer level (Gazetted Class II and III) has decreased from 6.2% in 2000 to 5.7% in 2009[18]. Similarly, wide gender gap in tertiary education and employment persists. Although, overall literacy rate (for population aged 5 years and above) has increased from 54.1% in 2001 to 65.9% in 2011, male literacy rate is 75.1% compared to female literacy rate of 57.4%[19]. Maintaining accountability and capacity in state mechanisms to translate gender-responsive polices and legislations into action is still a major challenge. The progress achieved in Nepal in ending gender discrimination and empowering women has been measured only in terms of improvements in primary and secondary education, and reduction in maternal mortality rates[20].

Food Insecurity and Climate Change

Over a third of Nepal's 75 districts suffer from high food insecurity with chronic food insecurity affecting up to 80 % of the population in heavily-affected areas such as the western Terai. With a Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 20.3,the severity of hunger in Nepal is alarming. Nepal has been put in a position of serious persistent hunger based on data which shows 16 % of the population to be undernourished, about half of the children under-five are stunted, and 38.8 % of under-five children to be underweight[21]. A Nepali in an average spends 59 % of his/her income on food. Research undertaken during the 2008–2009 food price crisis showed that the poorest rural families were spending 78 % of their income on food making them highly vulnerable to food price volatility[22]. As the current food distribution mechanism is not sufficient enough to protect the poor people from unprecedented rise in food prices, the government must invest in developing effective food distribution strategies.

Nepal is a country critically vulnerable to climate change because of its unique topography and fragile mountain ecosystem. Of 16 countries listed globally as being at ‘extreme risks from climate change over the next 30 years’, Nepal ranks fourth. Despite being the least Green House Gas emitting country, Nepal has been paying an exorbitantly high price for the unrestrained consumerism in the developed countries[23]. Increase in landslides, glacial lake outbursts and consequent recurrence of floods, erratic precipitation, and heat stress are already impacting agricultural production and food security in the country. Agriculture is the mainstay of the Nepalese economy as 65 % of the population is engaged in agriculture. The harmful effects of climate change are therefore, depriving majority of the Nepalese population of their livelihoods, condemning them to perpetual poverty and human insecurity. Thus, the adverse impact of climate change threaten the overarching goals of reducing poverty and enhancing economic well-being and could reverse much of the investment made to achieve the MDGs in Nepal. Under these circumstances, it is necessary for the government to prioritise cost effective, sustainable strategies for adapting to climate change as well as to make a firm political stand to developed countries for drastic emission cuts, adequate adaptation funds and technology transfers without intellectual property barriers.

Inadequate and Lop-Sided Social Protection

The social security system is governed by the Labour Act 1992 and its supplementary Labour Rules; applicable only to the permanent job holders of the formal sector. Provisions are inadequate and limited to Provident Fund, Gratuity, Sick Leaves, Maternity Leaves and other minor compensation and benefits. Pension is enjoyed only by government employees in the civil service, police and army including those in some parts of the public sector. The informal sector comprising 96 % of the population is completely unprotected and vulnerable sans any form of social security arrangement. Therefore, the poorest, marginalised and excluded populations face constant threat to their lives and livelihoods.

The draft Social Security Act endorsed in 2012 in still in limbo. It has identified six core social security schemes - unemployment, disability, maternity, medical, dependent and old-age benefits. The delay in enforcing the Act will not only deprive workers in the formal sector of the targeted benefits but more importantly, it will be an issue of injustice as they have been contributing 1% of their monthly salary as social security tax since the last three years or so. Only in the last fiscal year 2011/2012, 742.46 million Nepalese Rupees was collected which however is unaccounted for due to absence of a proper accountability mechanism in place.

Persistent Political Crisis

Nepal has experienced drastic political turmoil and consequent changes in its 22-year old history of democracy, achieved by the first people’s movement in 1990. After only six years of democratic taste, the Maoist conflict with the State broke out in 1996, which rocked the country for a decade. The year 2005 saw the royal coup; the then constitutional monarch Gyanendra taking the executive powers directly in his hands. And, interestingly, by a unique coming together of democratic forces and the Maoists, the second people’s movement overthrew the monarchy in 2006, and Nepal was declared a republic.

With the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006 that formally ended the decade long civil war, came the fresh hope that the political change would usher in a new era of socio-economic advance, polity stability and a sustainable peace in the country. It was expected that the elected Constituent Assembly of 2007 will promulgate a people-centred constitution that would dismantle the historical legacy of exclusionary and discriminatory policies in the functioning of the State mechanism. However, the political parties have continued to embroil in vested personal feuds and rivalries lacking political vision and political will towards building the nation. Since 2002, there have been no local elected representatives at the municipalities, village and district levels, to this day. Having missed five consecutive deadlines to promulgate the new constitution, the Constituent Assembly was dissolved on 27 May 2012, leaving the country in a political paralysis with a caretaker government and no consensus way forward in sight. The ongoing political volatility certainly impacts the government’s ability and responsibility to address development needs in the country, as the gap between public priorities and the political discourse remains wide. There is increasing feeling of insecurity and resentment among the general population who is coming to feel that the victories of the people’s movements have been discredited by their failure to bring transformative change in the country.

Evidence in Nepal suggests that the root causes of the conflict include not only the severity of poverty and inequality but also the sense of entrenchment - that opportunities are limited or non-existent for the poor to climb out of poverty. Therefore, addressing constraints on the inclusiveness of development is critical in order to make a real difference in the lives of ordinary Nepalis and reduce the risks of instability. Systemic changes in the development approach must be undertaken to adequately address the needs and priorities of the excluded and marginalized sections of the society. A stable political structure upon which well-informed policies, institutions and mechanisms can function over time is a major determinant for people’s empowerment and strengthening Nepal’s peace and fragile democracy.


[1] LDC Watch, No MDGs without LDCs (Kathmandu: LDC Watch International Secretariat 2011).

[2] UNDP Human Development Report 2011, Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All, New York: UNDP, 2011.

[3] United Nations Country Team Nepal, United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Nepal 2013-2017: 2012 (United Nations: United Nations, 2012).

[4] Department of Education, Flash I Report 2068 (2011-012), Kathmandu: Ministry of Education, 2011.

[5] United Nations Country Team Nepal, Nepal: A Country Analysis with a Human Face (United Nations: United Nations 2011).

[6] 42% and 14 % under 5 children are stunted and wasted respectively. Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Nepal, 2011.

[7] Government of Nepal and United Nations Country Team of Nepal, Nepal Millennium Development Goals Progress Report 2010, (Kathmandu: GoN and UN, 2010).

[8]United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report 2012, UNICEF 2012.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Government of Nepal and United Nations Country Team of Nepal, Nepal Millennium Development Goals Progress Report 2010, (Kathmandu: GoN and UN, 2010).

[11] Ibid.

[12] UNICEF and World Health Organization, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update (New York: UNICEF and World Health Organization, 2012).

[13] Ibid.

[14] United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator’s Office, Nepal Peace and Development Strategy 2010-2015: A contribution to development planning from Nepal’s international development partners (Kathmandu: United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator’s Office, 2011).

[15] UNICEF and World Health Organization, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update (New York: UNICEF and World Health Organization, 2012).

[16] Rehman Sobhan, “Agents into Principals: Democratizing Development in South Asia,” in Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honour of Amartya Sen Vol. 2, ed. Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 542-43.

[17] National Women’s Commission, Nepal’s Implementation Status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Kathmandu: National Women’s Commission, 2011).

[18] Government of Nepal, United Nations Country Team of Nepal, Nepal Millennium Development Goals Progress Report 2010, (Kathmandu: GoN and UN, 2010).

[19] Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Nepal 2012.

[20] United Nations Country Team Nepal, Promoting the rights of women and excluded for sustained peace and inclusive development (United Nations: United Nations, 2011).

[21] International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, The Global Hunger Index 2012: The Challenge of Hunger: Ensuring Sustainable Food Security Under Land, Water and Energy Stresses, IFPRI, Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, 2012.

[22] Oxfam International, Improving Food Security for Vulnerable Communities in Nepal (Oxfam GB, 2011)

[23] Rural Reconstruction Nepal, Defending Sustainable Development Agenda in Nepal: Civil Society Concerns, Briefing Paper 10 (Kathmandu: RRN, 2012).


The longest year

In 2012, the all-consuming question has been, “who will lead Malaysia after its 13th general elections?” So much so that questions of substance as to what policies and principles will be in place and how and in which direction the country will be governed after the polls, have been downgraded. Fears of losing electoral and political support by instituting – or championing – drastic changes have prevented crucial questions from being addressed. Even reformist-minded politicians have not been able to articulate a different development trajectory and model than that of the incumbent government. However, a bright spot has emerged: a nascent ‘green’ movement steered by grassroots civil society leaders but empowered by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens who have not been cowed from rallying onto the streets of Malaysia to make their concerns known about the world they want.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)
Third World Network (TWN)

In 2012, the all-consuming question has been, “who will lead Malaysia after its 13th general elections?” So much so that questions of substance as to what policies and principles will be in place and how and in which direction the country will be governed after the polls, have been downgraded. Fears of losing electoral and political support by instituting – or championing – drastic changes have prevented crucial questions from being addressed. Even reformist-minded politicians have not been able to articulate a different development trajectory and model than that of the incumbent government. However, a bright spot has emerged: a nascent ‘green’ movement steered by grassroots civil society leaders but empowered by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens who have not been cowed from rallying onto the streets of Malaysia to make their concerns known about the world they want.

A middle income trap or a haves vs. have-nots divide?

Since Najib Razak took over as Prime Minister in 2009, the main narrative of his New Economic Model (NEM) focuses on what are perceived to be the main problems facing the Malaysian economy: governance and efficiency issues of transparency, accountability and institutional streamlining on the one hand, and the purported need to escape the ‘middle income trap’ and to become a ‘high-income’ (pegged at a per capita income of RM 48,000) nation by 2020, on the other.[1]  Malaysia’s inadequate financial, technological and market infrastructure and human capital have been pinpointed as reasons why it cannot compete in economically higher-value-added products and services. Coming out of the purported middle income trap and towards a high-income goal is supposed to embody the latest stage of Malaysia’s development trajectory.

Malaysia was significantly affected by the economic crisis in the United States and the European Union due to its dependence on export markets. In 2009, the Malaysian economy contracted 6.2% in the first quarter. The average annual GDP growth rate over that decade was 4.6%. Some quarters estimate that growth rates in 2013 will settle between 4.5% to 5.5%, while others have projected a lower 3.5%. Such figures compare poorly to the boom years of the last decades of the 20th century when Malaysia recorded growth of up to 8% yearly.[2]

The Malaysian government acted significantly later than several other governments on the financial crisis even when it hit its shores in 2008. When it did, it received criticism for acting too little too late. The first stimulus package was a mere US$2 billion. It was only in March 2009 that a second and bigger stimulus package (US$17 billion) was announced for distribution over the next two years to stave off a serious recession. The plan was to allocate money for fiscal injection, guarantee funds and other assistance for industry, equity investments and tax incentives.[3]

But while the four main goals of the package were purportedly to protect and create jobs, ease the burden of the crisis on the population, assist the private sector and build capacity for the future, critics of the stimulus plan not only cited the lack of transparency, but also the apparent use of the allocation to bail out the government’s business cronies while little was seen in the way of alleviating the impact of the crisis on lower-income earners. Almost half of the stimulus would have gone to the private sector; only 17% towards easing the burden of the ordinary people. A mere 1.4% was allocated for the less-fortunate.[4]

‘People First, Performance Now’?

According to government data, Malaysia is said to be on the way towards achieving all eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); commitment is reflected in the Tenth Malaysia Plan (2011-2015). But Malaysia’s development trajectory has hitherto primarily been driven by a combination of low worker wages amidst high revenues for petroleum, palm oil and rubber commodities and foreign direct investment in the manufacturing sector.[5] In other words, very little of the profits in the form of oil royalties, for example, have gone towards developing the states that produce a large bulk of the oil, such as Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak, but which happen also to be the poorest states in Malaysia. And while the government announced its motto to be “People First, Performance Now” and its goals to (i) reduce crime; (ii) fight corruption; (iii) improve student outcomes; (iv) raise living standards of low-income households; (v) improving rural basic infrastructure; and (vi) improve urban public transport, it appears that while lip-service has been paid, little pertaining to the structural and systemic inequities, inequalities and injustices of the political or social economy have been dealt with or addressed with any substance.

Most Malaysians, in fact, would argue that being ‘trapped’ with a ‘middle income’ is a luxury they have not known: Malaysians on average earned less than RM2,400 per month in 2011. That year, 12,684,000 brought home an income of less than RM3,000 monthly.[6] When the government in 2012 distributed RM500 as aid to families that earned a total of less than RM3,000 per month, four million households qualifed for this aid.[7] Although Malaysia has narrowed the rural-urban poverty gap, the rural poor in 2009 still accounted for two-thirds of poor households. The Gini coefficient for 2009 was 0.441, little different from the previous 20 years. Malaysia has, in fact, the highest inequality in Southeast Asia.[8] The Tenth Malaysia Plan admits that there are 2.4 million vulnerable households which make up the bottom 40% of the population.[9]

The government touts the decrease in poverty rates from 16% in 1990 to 3.8 % in 2009,[10] but its definition of ‘poverty’ has been based on a minimum World Bank standard of US$2 per capita per day, which does not address such factors as the different cost of living in urban and rural areas nor inflation.[11] Instead of ‘absolute’ poverty, many NGOs have called for the use of ‘relative’ poverty which considers poverty to consist of earning less than 50% of the monthly household median income; if so, significantly higher figures would be obtained: since the national household median income is RM2,841 a month, the poverty line would be set at RM1,500 per household, moving 21.6% of total households in Malaysia under that threshold.[12]

Most young Malaysians (aged 7 to 12) receive a full primary education. Enrolment increased from 2.9 million students in 2005 to 3 million in 2010 against an estimated 2.5% decline in the birth rate. But while such progress is often highlighted in official reports, it is less publicised that 30% of 9,806 schools were allegedly without water or electricity.[13] In terms of gender equality and empowerment, the UNDP ranked Malaysia in 2011 43rd out of 145 countries because of poor showing in labour force participation (46.1% in 2010 for women, compared with 78.7% for men) and underrepresentation in decision-making bodies such as Parliament (14%), state legislative assemblies (8.2%) and in senior management positions in the private sector. Women-led urban households were found to have a much higher probability of being poor than those led by men.[14]

The Green Movement comes of age

Perhaps the most surprising development given the general apathy among most citizens to ‘environmental’ issues was the rise in 2012 of Malaysia’s own Green Movement, one that captured enough imagination, attention and commitment to have attracted tens of thousands to rally in support of a variety of environmental concerns. As IPS in a July 2012 report asked, how did this happen in a country where the green struggle was, until last year, very much in its infancy?

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has not been indifferent or inactive. They have, in fact, given priority to biodiversity and climate change issues, and have introduced numerous policies, laws and regulations aimed at mainstreaming environment into national development planning. Climate-resilient growth strategies have been included in the Tenth Malaysia Plan for the nation as a whole. Rules, regulations and policies notwithstanding, however, serious problems have plagued Malaysia’s environmental track record. In addition to the need to plug loopholes in old laws, many new issues have arisen that highlight the need to review the laws; there have been problems in their implementation, enforcement and coherence; and an appropriate and comprehensive legislative framework is missing. Among institutions involved in environmental conservation and management, there is limited capacity to carry out coordination, monitoring and evaluation, insufficient technical capacities, inadequate science-policy interface and inadequate financing. Malaysia’s unique division of powers between the federal government and the states with respect to natural resource management and land ownership – affecting the National Biodiversity Policy, the National Forestry Policy and the National Land Policy – have also resulted in implementation problems.[15]

But while activism against logging, oil palm plantations and pollution and unsustainable exploitation of water and other resources had in the past intermittently received civil society backing, 2012 saw an unprecedented upsurge of citizens rallying in unseen-before numbers and the formation of a grassroots-based green movement that challenged the government’s development and policy-making system. Five issues, in particular, served as rallying points:

Nuclear plans: The government had in December 2010 announced plans to build two nuclear power plants to meet rising energy demand, by 2021/2022. A civil society campaign was launched to press the government into abandoning these plans out of concerns that they would be disastrous for public health, safety and the environment in Malaysia. Very recently, it was announced that the nuclear power plans would be delayed due to the negative press that the nuclear industry has received following Japan's atomic disaster in 2011, along with domestic anger at the controversial Lynas rare earth plant (discussed below).[16]

Mega-dams in Sarawak: Indigenous communities and activists have for years struggled against moves by the state and federal governments to build mammoth hydroelectric projects that posed immense environmental, economic and social issues.[17] A plan is underway to build 12 mega-dams under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) and thereby turn Sarawak into a “developed state” by 2020. Among the dams planned is the 944MW Murum Dam, which would resettle 1,400 people from the Penan and Kenyah communities. The 1,000MW Baram Dam, meanwhile, is slated to displace some 20,000 indigenous peoples and submerge 412km2 of forests. Critics have questioned the plan’s viability[18] and attacked it for the loss of native customary land, homes, livelihoods and natural biodiversity that it would cause.

Indigenous and activist groups set up blockades to prevent workers from reaching the sites of the dams; a Save Sarawak Rivers Network (Save Rivers) was set up in February 2012 to oppose the dams; foreign companies involved[19] were targeted; and considerable efforts were made to inform and mobilise people against the plan, such as through Radio Free Sarawak.[20]

Raub gold-mining: In the middle of the last decade, it was discovered that operations by a gold-mining company in Raub in Pahang did not comply with international standards and could cause long-term harm to local residents and the environment. The facility, only 200-300 meters away from the nearest village, used the 'carbon-in-leach' method and consumed 400 tonnes of sodium cyanide a year. Booklets to raise awareness were printed by local residents. In October 2011, Raub residents and activists participated in the massive Himpunan Hijau (Green Assembly) in Kuantan.[21]

Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex: An ambitious project to develop this complex in Johor has run afoul of the many fishing villages making up a significant proportion of the population. Critics argue that the plant will cause large-scale social and economic dislocation. It is expected that about 600 families from seven villages would have to be relocated without adequate compensation. In addition, there have also been questions related to public health concerns and the demands placed on land, water, energy resources and loss of livelihood. Local NGOs were consequently formed, memorandums were submitted and several protests were organised in 2012, including one on 30 September that saw more than 3,000 protesters against the project.[22]

Lynas rare earth refinery: One large group of people assembled at the first Himpunan Hijau gathering were residents of Gebeng in Pahang and activists opposed to a controversial rare earth refinery operated by Australian company Lynas. Rare earth minerals are often found in ores which contain small amounts of radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium, so extracting them raises a number of health and safety issues.[23] A second Himpunan Hijau focusing on the Lynas issue saw an even more impressive number – 15,000 people – gathering to express their opposition to the plant. That gathering’s thunder was topped six months later when about 20,000 ‘green shirts’ joined a mammoth rally for electoral reform.[24]

Free trade agreements a serious threat

Looking at the aggregate data, Malaysia is on track to achieve most of the MDGs by 2015. But when the achievements are disaggregated and examined more closely, it is apparent that much more needs to be done. In addition, a serious problem has arisen in the regional and international arena that poses a risk to all efforts at improving the socio-economic welfare and future of all Malaysians.

The U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which Malaysia is negotiating with eleven other countries, as well as the proposed European Union-Malaysia free trade agreement (FTA) pose a larger spectre of corporate-driven liberalisation than previously seen or attempted. These agreements threaten great risks and irreversible changes to the fabric of Malaysian public life by putting in place legally-binding mechanisms to tip the balance of policies, laws and regulations in favour of the protection of corporate interests. Slated to be signed at the end of 2013, growing intensive public protests, especially against the TPPA, have led to delays in the conclusion of these agreements.

The TPPA, in particular, would not only do away with nearly all tariffs among TPPA countries, but would also commit their governments to reforms and protections for foreign investors, such as enhanced safeguards for intellectual property (IP) holders which will impact on agriculture, technology-related industries, health,[25] education,[26] etc., freedom to carry out profit-making operations with minimal restrictions which raise environmental concerns,[27] and limitations on state-owned enterprises, with implications for government-linked companies with socio-economic prerogatives.[28] In addition, the TPPA’s investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism would allow private foreign corporations to sue governments in international arbitration tribunals for any act, policy or law – including those put in place to protect the environment or public health – that the corporations argue have “expropriated”, or threaten to expropriate, their investments, profits and even expected profits.[29] This can happen due to the typically broad definition of “investment” contained in such agreements. Signing the TPPA and EU-Malaysia FTA, would therefore pose a tremendous challenge and threatens to undo government actions to address social, economic and environmental issues.

The historic scale of the green movement has demonstrated that environmental issues, among other public interest concerns, can no longer be dismissed by invoking ‘Malaysia’s development’ aspirations as trumping over socio-economic, political and civic rights. The government must address them straight on as a systemic problem of lack of transparency, and disregard for people's rights and the environment.

Yet, the overall tenure of Malaysian public life and the actions of its leaders suggest most have been so engrossed with partisan politics that questions and issues of what and how – as opposed to merely who – have been set aside. It remains to be seen whether the changes promised by leaders on both sides of the political divide will meet the hopes and aspirations of ordinary Malaysians, and whether real changes to the socio-economic and political-economic fabric of the country will take place for the betterment of its people to attain the future they want.


[1] On 1 December 2009, Minister of Finance II Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said in a speech at the “National Economic Outlook Conference 2010-2011” that among the top economic concerns in Malaysia were the state of education, corruption, government over-reach in economic affairs, public institutions, the brain-drain, and low domestic investments. See also Wong Chun Wai, “From the Heart and Refreshing”, The Sunday Star, 13 December, 2009.

[2] United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Country Programme for Malaysia, 2013-2015, 27 July 2012.

[3] Social Watch, Country Report: Malaysia, 2012.

[4] Social Watch, Country Report: Malaysia,  2009.

[5] UNDP Country Programme for Malaysia, 2013-2015.

[6]  It was RM1,916 in 2009. See Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s 2012 Budget Speech Introducing the Supply Bill (2012), 7 October 2011; Prime Minister’s Department, Economic Transformation Program: A Roadmap for Malaysia, October 2010; Malay Economic Action Council, “The Bumiputera Transformation Roadmap: The Hopes of the Bumiputera,” 24 November, 2011.

[8] Yusuf Bangura, Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics, (Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 2010), p 93.

[9] UNDP Country Programme for Malaysia, 2013-2015.

[10]  “No poverty in Malaysia by 2015,” The New Straits Times, 3 November, 2012.

[11] UNDP, The Millennium Goals at 2010: Malaysia, 2011; Elizabeth Gimbad, ”Rethinking poverty in Sabah,“ Malaysian Insider, December 13, 2012, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/rethinking-poverty-....

[12] G Vinod, ‘Review unrealistic poverty benchmark’, 22 August, Free Malaysia Today, http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/08/22/review unrealistic poverty benchmark/

[13] AFP report, 6 June, 2008.

[14] UNDP Country Programme for Malaysia, 2013-2015.

[15] UNDP Country Programme for Malaysia, 2013-2015.

[16] AFP/xqEnvironment, Malaysia nuclear plan delayed, 15 January 2013.

[17] The most controversial was the 2,400MW Bakun Dam where 695 km2 (equivalent to the size of Singapore) was to be flooded. Critics pointed out that in both East Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysia there is an over-supply of electricity, which made the hydroelectric project unnecessary. After two failed starts, the privatisation of the project to a logging company with no experience in dam construction, two postponed completion targets, eventual takeover by the government with “compensation” to the logging company, which had completed only 50% of the engineering work, the flooding process was initiated on 13 October, 2010. Vast tropical rainforests and its biodiversity, as well as 15 indigenous communities, suffered as a result. There was much discontent among the local population, along with unresolved compensation claims, loss of livelihood and other social problems.

[20] Gan Pei Ling, “Environmental “hot potatoes” in 2013,” The Nut Graph, 28 January 2013, available at http://www.thenutgraph.com/environmental-hot-potatoes-in-2013/

[22] Thomas Fann, “10 big questions about Pengerang,” Harakah Daily, 25 September 2012; Debra Chong, “Questions over New Year deaths of Pengerang family, 2 January, 2013, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/litee/malaysia/article/questions-over-new-year-deaths-of-pengerang-family/.

[25] Medecins Sans Frontieres, “Trading Away Health: How the U.S.’s Intellectual Property Demands for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Threaten Access to Medicines,” MSF Access Campaign Issue Brief, July 2012.

[26] E.g. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions statement on the TPP on 4 July, 2012, and statement by the Library Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa on 5 July, 2012.

[27] See  http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/TransPacificEnvironment.pdf

[28] E.g. Jane Kelsey, Investment Developments in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Investment Treaty News, January 12, 2012.

[29] Martin Khor, “Global Trends: Investment treaties come under fire,” The Star, 19 November, 2012.


Two years of January 25 revolution

Almost two years have passed since human rights and feminists organizations expressed their deep concern at the escalation of policies that reinforce impunity, do not protect citizens and do not guarantee the right of peaceful assembly. The exclusion of women from the public sphere through direct incitement and aggression must be condemned. The heinous crimes of sexual violence can not be separated from the decline of the social status of women. The revolution of January 25, as the Egyptians call it, is the fourth in the last hundred and thirty years. The modern national movement has sought an effective national sovereignty, particularly with regard to economy and the ability to ensure socio-economic justice in the distribution of wealth and income. The Egyptian people discovered that without internal democracy it is impossible to preserve the conquests from previous revolutions. January 25 revolution asserts, then, the centrality of democracy, not only as a utopian goal, which practical implementation would be deferred indefinitely, but to lay the foundations of a modern, independent and prosperous country.

Nawara Belal
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE)


The January 25 Revolution
, as Egyptians call it, is the fourth Egyptian revolution in the last 130 years. The modern Egyptian national movement has consistently sought three goals: self-government in the basic sense of allowing Egyptians to be in charge of public offices; independence in the international community and effective domestic sovereignty, in particular with regard to the national economy and the ability to secure socio-economic justice in the distribution of national wealth and income. "Egypt’s prior revolutions secured, to a certain extent, the first two goals, contradictions between the desire for national independence and the desire for democracy ultimately led to the Free Officers’ Revolution of 1952."(1) The Egyptian people discovered that in the absence of internal democracy, it was impossible to preserve the gains of the previous revolutions. The January 25 Revolution therefore affirmed the centrality of democracy to the Egyptian national movement, not just as a utopian goal—one whose practical implementation would be indefinitely deferred—but rather as the foundation for a modern, independent, and prosperous Egypt.

The general goals of the revolution faced challenges with the contemporary regime, as core rights were jeopardized, starting off with child rights, a lot of violations were witnessed especially recently with the ongoing protests demanding the regime to commit to the revolution's principles.

In its latest report, the Egyptian Coalition for Child’s Rights (ECCR) stated that in the clashes (26-27 January 2013) following the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution, 91 children less than 18 years of age were detained by Cairo police in inhumane conditions. "The statement denounced the use of children in clashes, and the state and society’s failure to offer them basic rights of protection.  Many children were interrogated by the police without the presence of a lawyer or adult relatives before they were released."(2.1) According to the law they should have been interrogated within 24 hours of their arrest, but all children were detained for four days before seeing a prosecutor. "The statement also explained that the children were interrogated by a general prosecution and not a child’s prosecution which violates the rights put out in article 122 of the Egyptian Child’s Law".(2.2)

Egypt's human rights threatened under current constitution fiasco

A drafted Egyptian constitution heavily influenced by Islamist conservatives contains articles that could pose a serious threat to basic human rights in post-Mubarak Egypt. The constitution fails to meet that standard because of vague language or limitations that destroy the essence of many rights."While the draft upholds some civil, political, social and economic rights, other key provisions are inconsistent with international human rights standards and would pose a serious threat to the future of human rights in Egypt" (3.1).

Article 5 of the draft failed to ban torture, Article 36 threatened equality between men and women, while Article 9 "would amount to a serious threat to freedom of speech and religion. The failure to fully prohibit torture is especially surprising given the fact that anger against police abuse played a central role in the January 2011 uprising" (3.2). Human Rights groups accuse Morsi regime’s of far greater abuse of human rights than that of Mubarak’s.

A statement prepared by 21 human rights organizations urged President Mohamed Morsi to put an end to the rapid deterioration of human rights in Egypt. [“The human rights record over the past eight months since President Mohamed Morsi took the seat of power… are worse than it was before the revolution in the era of the former president,” the joint-statement warned] (4). There is plenty of evidence which incriminates the Muslim Brotherhood and the police in the kidnapping of protesters. Morsi’s government seems to be trying to use violence against demonstrators as a weapon to settle things down until the upcoming elections. The kidnapping of activists and protesters are a tool to settle the community until they can secure the elections.

Gender and women rights; the journey and the ending lines

On March 8, 2011, Egyptian women took to the streets to celebrate International Women's Day. Since January 25, 2011, Egypt had witnessed a momentous transformation in protest culture and power, wherein millions of people took to the streets to demand their political rights. Surprising to many, though, was the marked hostility and violence that was unleashed against women protesters, as they were harassed and shouted at by groups of men who gathered around them. They were accused of following western agendas, and of going against cultural values. "Among the many reasons for this turn of events, it is argued that one of the key obstacles that women's rights faced in the months after is a prevalent public perception that associates women's rights activists and their activities with the ex-First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak, and her entourage—that is, with corrupt regime politics in collusion with imperialist agendas." (5)

Along the course of time and almost two years after that instant, Feminist and human rights organizations express deep concern due to the escalation of state policies that reinforce the state of impunity and which refrain from protecting citizens and securing peaceful assembly. The perpetuation of the approach of groups that support the regime in targeting female activists and excluding women from the public sphere through direct incitement and aggression must be condemned.  Such atrocious crimes of sexual violence cannot be separated from women’s declining social status. There must public accountability for such crimes as women should not be out casted or tooled for political or tactical considerations.

Fear of Islamic state

President Mohamed Morsi had said, when he was head of the Freedom and Justice Party, that he would not receive the Iranian high personals in Cairo as long as the Iranian regime supported the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, never the less President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited February 6-7 in response to an invitation extended to him by Morsi in order to attend the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit held in Cairo. Egyptians expressed a lot of reservations about the visit not only because of the Iranian regime’s foreign policy, but also owing to growing fears of an established fundamental model. Fears are augmented as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood give themselves increasing power; such was obvious in the new constitution. 
"With the post-revolution economic crisis that hit Egypt and the controversy over the International Monetary Fund loan, the Egyptian ruling clique was not in favor of upsetting anti-Iranian Western powers, yet at the same time did not want to lose Iran’s support. But what could Iran, a country already suffering under the yoke of international sanctions and swept with protests against the deteriorating living standards and the collapse of the local currency, offer to a country like Egypt? Several similarities can be detected between the rhetoric of the Egyptian president and that of his Iranian counterpart even though the latter enjoys fewer powers compared to those of the country’s supreme leader." (6.1)

There are also organizational similarities between the two regimes, which were made clear with the recent emergence of semi-militias model. In addition, fundamental governing system is also being established in Egypt with the increasing growth of a religious authority that is supported by the constitution. "The developments in Egypt are also seen as similar to those that took place in Iran in 1979 when the revolution was rendered Islamic even though it was started by civilian factions." (6.2)The two countries are also following the same tactics as far as crushing opposition is concerned.


Development and recent macro-economic (the Real GDP growth Rate)

The political turmoil and social unrest of the past year has dampened Egypt’s short term economic outlook, increasing unemployment and affecting the tourism, manufacturing and export sectors in particular.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Egypt’s GDP growth was poised for a fast recovery. However heightened economic risks emanating from the revolution have led GDP growth to drop to 1.8% in 2011. Tourism, which accounts for about 4.3% of the country's GDP and 10% of its workforce, has been adversely affected. November 2011 estimates showed that tourist arrivals dropped by 42% compared to the same period last year. This will build on the losses of about U$2 billion for the sector in FY 2010/11, when the tourism sector contracted by -5.9%. As a result the government estimates the economic cost arising from the aftermath of the revolution to be LE 40 billion (2.9% of GDP) for 2010/11 and LE 65 billion (4.9% of GDP) for 2011/12, mainly due to the adverse impact on tourism and FDI, and continued hesitation by investors.(7 and 8)

It could be noted that the success or failure of Egypt’s transition will have a significant effect on the rest of the Arab world; nevertheless the country’s current economic, social, and political challenges are all but overwhelming. Individualistic political forces will be faced with numerous burdens that their current status might not be able to handle these problems on their own. Civil society has yet a crucial role to play at this time and beyond. But as long as the legal and political environment remains hostile to civil activism and public participations, to civil society organizations –local and international- diminishing the pressure force balancing the turmoil, Egypt will be deprived of the benefits of this essential pillar of democracy.



  1. Mohamed Fadel, "Public Corruption and the Egyptian Revolution of January 25: Can Emerging International Anti-Corruption Norms Assist Egypt Recover Misappropriated Public Funds?" Harvard International Law journal, volume 52, April 2011, <http://www.harvardilj.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/HILJ-Online_52_Fadel.pdf >, (accessed 10 January 2012)
  2. Sara Abou Bakar, "Child abuse in Egypt: 91 children detained after Cairo's latest clashes", Daily News Egypt , February 4, 2013, <http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/02/04/child-abuse-in-egypt-91-children-detained-after-cairos-latest-clashes/>,(accessed in February 9th 2012)
  3. AFP, "Egypt draft constitution fails to protect key human rights: HRW", Ahram Online,  <http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/55085.aspx>, (accessed in 12  February 2013)
  4. Luiz Sanchez, "Human Rights Rapidly deteriorating in Egypt: Human Rights Organizations", Daily News Egypt, <http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/02/22/human-rights-rapidly-deteriorating-in-egypt-human-rights-organisations/ >, (accessed in 1 March 2013)
  5. Hoda El Sadda, "Women's rights activism in post-Jan25 Egypt: Combating the Shadow of the First Lady Syndrome in the Arab world", Middle East Law and Governance, <http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/melg/2011/00000003/F0020001/art00008>, (accessed in 2February 2013)
  6. Hani Nesira, "As the relationship grows, factions fear an Egypt modeled on Iran", Al Arabiya News, Sunday 3rd March 2013, < http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2013/02/07/264973.html>, (accessed in 1 March 2013)
  7. "Egypt, 2012-2013 interim strategy paper", African Development Bank, October 2012,   <http://www.afdb.org/fileadmin/uploads/afdb/Documents/Project-and-Operations/2012-2013%20-%20Egypt%20-%20Interim%20Strategy%20Paper.pdf>, (accessed in 29 January 2013)
  8. "Egypt GDP Growth Rate", Trading Economics, <http://www.tradingeconomics.com/egypt/gdp-growth>, (accessed in 1 March 2013)

We have not won poverty but poverty won us

Armenia adopted the “UN Millennium Declaration” in 2000. It was obvious that the goals cannot be comprehensive, and each country should determine its current problems, especially if the solution is defined by the Constitution and other laws and international obligations. As a result of MDG local adaptation the following goals: “Achieve universal primary education”, “Contribute to gender equality and empowerment of women” were not recognized as the first order priority since the Constitution obliges the state to ensure that all citizens work, have a decent standard of living, access to all levels of education, professional training, health care and healthy living conditions, etc. However despite these two goals weren’t emphasized as priority ones some achievements were observed with respect to these spheres, we will refer them in the report.

Aharon Adibekyan (Independent Sociological Research Center Sociometr)
Svetlana Aslanyan (Center for the Development of Civil Society)

I. Introduction

Armenia adopted the “UN Millennium Declaration” in 2000. It was obvious that the goals cannot be comprehensive, and each country should determine its current problems, especially if the solution is defined by the Constitution and other laws and international obligations. As a result of MDG local adaptation the following goals: “Achieve universal primary education”, “Contribute to gender equality and empowerment of women” were not recognized as the first order priority since the Constitution obliges the state to ensure that all citizens work, have a decent standard of living, access to all levels of education, professional training, health care and healthy living conditions, etc.

However despite these two goals weren’t emphasized as priority ones some achievements were observed with respect to these spheres, we will refer them in the report.

II. Realization of Millennium Development Goals in Armenia 2001-2011

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 

The goal Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger” in Armenian reduction was extended and expressed as “Eliminate extreme poverty and hunger; provide a full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and youth”. The statement provided opportunity to incorporate women and youth with respect to poverty. For real protection of constitutional guarantees of a number of laws have been adopted:"On social protection of disabled people" (1993), "The care and maintenance" (1996), "On the rights of the child" (1996), "On employment" '(1997), "On mandatory insurance of the population" (1997)", On mandatory insurance of the population" (1997), "On wages" (2001), "Social protection of children deprived of parental care" (2002), “On the state pensions”(2002), “On insurance” (2004), "On obligatory social assistance for the cases of temporary unemployment” (2005), “On social support” (2005), "On the state allowances” (2005). In addition the “National Program for the Development of Education in 2001 and 2005” was also adopted in 2000, focused on higher education and Bologna Process and the National Action Plan on Improving the Status of Women and Enhancing Their Role in Society (2004-2010) were adopted.
In 2001 “Poverty Reduction Strategy” was adopted by the Government of the Republic of Armenia.
For realization the six selected goals were divided to 45 tasks, which were combined in 13 groups are reflected in the following table.



2015 local Millennium Development Goals





Reduce the poverty level in relation to 1999.




To reduce the number of people with the income lower than $2.5 per diem.



The percent of the poor in the population:

1999 – 56,0%
2006 – 26,5%
2009 – 34,1%



Achieve an average European level Gross Domestic Product per 1 person

2001 – $2400
2006 –$3900
2010- $6300




Relation of budget allocations to family allowances to the gap with the poor

16.0 milliard: GDP 3.2%




Ginni income coefficient of 20% richest/ 20% the poorest

2002- 0,451
2010 – 0,362




Relation of the number of poor outside the capital to the number of the poor in the capital

2005. - 117%




The number of people with the energy consumption below the lower level in proportion to the general one

15% -120 kw per family in a month




Involvement to school





Budget allocation to education

growth 1.9%




The number of students having got higher education meeting international standards in comparison to the total number of the students.

No data




The level of access to college and vocational education for the poor families.

No data




Access to higher education for the poor families.

State Support Program-2013




The number of women-deputies in the National Assembly, ministers, deputy ministers, heads of marzes.

 deputies – 5.3%
minister/vice-minister - 7%




Women among community leaders.

Head of village- 2%
Assistant head of village - 2%




The number of unemployed women to the integrate number of women

60 %




The death-rate of children at the age up to 5yearshas decreased in comparison to that of 1990.




The death-rate of children at the age up to 5yearsin proportion to the 1000 of the newborn,

1990- 18.5
2003 -13.4
2006- 14.0




The death-rate of children at the age below 1 year in proportion to the 1000 of the newborn.

2003 - 11.8
2006 - 12.3




Involvement to inoculation.





Reducing maternal mortality on 3/4




Maternal mortality in relation to 1000 newborn





Number of abortions per 100 births x1000

2001 -32,2% /
2005 – 29% /
2010 - 27%10.9




Combat HIV / AIDS spread




HIV / AIDS spread in women





The number of people having exact understanding of HIV / AIDS among youth at the age 15-24.





Preventing spread of malaria and other main illness.




Number of sick persons with tuberculosis per 100000 population

2001- 152.0
2005 – 200.5
2010 – 113.6




Number of sick person with the diagnosis and DOTS per 100000 population

2003 - 44.7
2001 – 35.3
2005 – 62.3
2010 - 40.6




Application of sustainable development principles and programs and counteract to the procedure of natural resources waste




The share of woody area

1990 - 12.7 (4.000.000 ha)
2006 - 11.2%-Á (60000ha)
Restoration per annum
2003 – 700 / 2006 – 3000 ha




The share of reservations

reservations - 47% (218.000 ha)
protected areas 2003 (81.700 ha)
2006 (89.400 ha )




Increasing the level of water in the lake Sevan

1m 60 cm




Reduce the share of people without access to the safe drinking water




Accessibility of the safe drinking water for rural population

2003-50% / 2006 - 75%




People with delivered water





The part of population with opportunity to use an improved sewage system





To improve housing conditions of the population





Dwellings/temporary lodgments 1000 –improving of living conditions for 1.3% of families





The weight of communities having more than 300 householders provided with natural gas





Guarantee such a level of governing, civil rights and responsibilities, human rights and protection that will assist to External Development Aid growth and its effective use




Index of freedom of the press

Freedom House 2003- 4.4
2005- 5,4




Freedom of business
Freedom of trade
Tax freedom
Investment freedom
Financial freedom
Freedom from the government
Freedom from corruption
Freedom of work 

84.5% (max – 100%)




Index of the government efficiency





Index of the prevalence of law





Index of the corruption comprehension

2.9 (93 place in the world)




Tax income with respect to GDP

2003 – 9.7% / 2006 - 8.4%




Make available innovations in technology, information communication




The number of wire/ cell phone subscribers/ owners per hundred residents

2003 –57
2006 - 60




The number of personal computer users per 100 residents

Availability – 60%




The number of the Internet users per 100 residents.

2001 – 40000
2005 – 152000
2010 - 204000




Public awareness on MDG



Participation of public and business in MDG implementation



Note: Some lines in the table left blank since no data is available.

Obviously, the implementation of MDG had sufficient institutional basis, but it still was a challenge not only for the Government, but also for the private sector and civil society. Therefore, the actions of the Government had: Direct (D - direct), partly direct (PD - partly direct), (ND - non-direct) and indirect (I-indirect) effects. Non direct effect means establishment of favorable conditions for activities of the private sector or NGO, from which all the society benefits.Thus, the influence of the government of the RA on the target problems implementation was the following: Direct – 10, Partly direct – 12, Indirect – 17, Insignificant – 3:.

Such differentiation of the Government impact allows us to make exact distinction among shares of the government, private sector and civil society responsibilities in the processes of MDG implementation. The approach is important also in clarifying the extent at which it was possible to provide public participation in implementation of the MDG through providing public awareness and promotion.

2. Employment and social situation of the population

Armenia’s economy was Industrial before the collapse of the USSR; its basis was constituted by the high-tech industries - chemistry, mechanical engineering, instrumentation and computational technique. Armenia was distinguished with a high scientific potential - more than 250 research institutes, staffed by up to 50 thousand highly qualified specialists. Armenia produced more than 160 types of ready products from the supplied raw materials which were exported to 80 countries. There were about 250 companies of the Military Industrial Complex. The number of employed of the 3.3 million population was 1.5 million: 50% in industry, transport and construction, 13.3% in the agricultural sector, and 26% in the service sector, education and health.

The collapse of the USSR was a catastrophe for Armenian economy: about 1,000 industrial enterprises ceased to function, agricultural associations were disbanded in 1020 agricultural formations, and more than 1 million people got unemployed.

Moreover personal savings of the population put in the Bank were lost and the compensation for victims of the 1988 earthquake had been “frozen”.

All this led to a huge drain on the population, which continues to these days, because there is not a clear and focused program of creating workplaces jobs inside the country. In addition, the Armenian economy is strongly tied to Russian gas and transfers coming from Russia, and in it, like in all post-Soviet states, there are problems with monopolists, shadow economy sector and corruption.
The dynamics of employment for 20 years is as follows:





















Labour resources


























































Agrarian sector




































Registered unemployed












Employed by European standards












The table demonstrates that the numbers of employed reduced from 80% to 49%, what is more only 100,000 were officially registered that is each tenth from unemployed which correspond to each fifth proceeding from European standards. In reality the inflation outstrips income growth, which continues to be quite low: the average salary of about $ 250, the pension - about $ 80. Meanwhile, 35% of households are poor and 15% of them are extremely poor - living on less than 35,000AMD (about $30) a month per person while the consumer basket is 53,000AMD(about $132) .

According to Vahagn Khachatryan “about 60% of income of the population of Armenia goes to paying of municipal services, food, and partly to buying clothes. Most of the people are deprived from purchasing of furniture, televisions, and more. I’m not talking about pensioners”.

Ratings of the Armenian economy by foreign observers and jurisdictions sometimes strongly differ. On one hand, Armenia takes rather good, i.e. the 32-th position in the ranking of Doing Business of World Bank, while in the ranking of economic liberalization Index of Economic freedom Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation it is on the 39th place. //The analyst of Forbes, Daniel Fisher , in 2011 put Armenia in the second place in the ranking of the worst economies in the world based on statistics of the IMF for the preceding three years. The expert came to such pessimistic conclusions proceeding from total Armenia's dependence on Russian gas, catastrophic "blow" of the Armenian construction "bubble" in 2009, the high inflation rate, GDP per capita of $3,000.However Fisher is convinced that in 2012, Armenia will leave this anti-rating.

3. Environmental factors forced economic migration and the civil society

Despite Armenia ratify the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought in 1997 and the adoption in 2002 of the “ National Program of Action to Combat Desertification in Armenia" and implementation of special conservation programs continues to accelerate the process of desertification, according to UN experts Armenia described as "damaged" by desertification. 82% of the land fund of Armenia is subject to varying degrees of degradation.

This is facilitated by such factors as: climatic conditions, illegal logging for domestic heating and cooking because of the constant rise in prices for electricity and gas, short-sighted organization of agricultural work, which generally leads to water logging, salinization and erosion of the soil, a weak monitoring of compliance with standards, land use and the impossibility of conducting large-scale pro-ecological activities; mining open pit, the production of ore concentrates and as a result - forests and fields turn into a career, increase the area of tailings and polluted rivers.

For Armenia, this development is disastrous because: only about 20% of agricultural lands is arable land, while the remaining 80% of the territory - a mountainous area, 10% of which is covered by forests. The reduction of land forces farmers to violate the rules of irrigation and use chemical fertilizers, which leads to land degradation and hence to further even greater reduction in area.

Thus the vicious circle is formed due to gradual reduction of agricultural land. As a consequence the income of farmers reduces, which leads to an increase in the number of poor. According to the special investigations Independent Sociological Research Center Sociometr below the poverty line are about 40% of rural households, mainly subsistence farming and produce nothing for the market. 35% of farmers manage to put some of their products, and only 23-25% works in a market that is very important, as the market has a positive regulatory function.
The observed out-migration from rural areas and the continuing pace of emigration outside of Armenia are the result of high levels of poverty of rural families, and poverty - the result of climatic and environmental factors.

4. Women in decision making

Transition from the Soviet mandate to the Armenian national mandate resulted in steady diminution woman’s role as a leader and in negation of even symbolic equality of soviet system . The Survey on Public Perception on Public Services/MDGs at local level initiated by UNDP , demonstrated that public opinion with respect to women rights prescribes positive trends to individual women’s efforts while negative tendencies to traditional style of society life. On the whole the public opinion reflects lack of capability for all sides to incorporate women’s rights in real life. The state attempts to improve the situation have had no significant results. Gender asymmetry is visible in a political realm even now. The figures provide evidence that women still continue work on subordinate positions as it was in Soviet time. Women are not represented even in local self-government bodies, though they make majority of voters.

To achieve even small results it is urgent that the Government and the Parliament make decision, that a special part “gender equality and extending women’s right “ l be envisioned in all programs of power bodies activities. 

III. Conclusion

Despite the fact that Armenia ratified numerous UN conventions and adopted several laws, to guarantee implementation of international obligations taken by the government almost all of them remained on the paper, since there were no mechanisms, resources, money for their implementation. Even parliamentary hearings devoted to ratification of the “Convention on Discrimination against Women” and “Convention on Women’s Political Rights” organized by CDCS jointly with other NGO’s on which it was suggested to develop the action plan, but it remained as wish. It is obvious that international organizations have no effective mechanisms to contribute to realization of obligations that governments had taken. They don’t have any levers to control or anyhow influence on process even when an urgent issues is raised and optimal solutions are suggested. It revealed that interests of local oligarchs dominated over the national priorities.

With respect to poverty, which is a complex issue simultaneous action of the government, social activists and the community are required and small steps towards equality based development of country are preferable.
From my personal observations I conclude that the programs initiated for eradicating poverty and achieving equality were sentenced to fail, since they are not focused on human being, that is the program results are not tied to improvement of real life of people.


The Currency is given in today’s rate

Daniel Fisher, «The World's Worst Economies». 2nd Article, In «Forbes» 5 July, 2012.
(see also: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2011/07/05/the-worlds-worst-eco...)

The participation of women in political life became the basic postulate of communist ideology. In order to implement that ideology, a fixed number of places (quota) were picked out for women in legislative and executive bodies. For example, under the communist regime in Armenia, the quota of women in Parliament was 36%. However, this seemingly wide political participation of women during the Soviet times represents a wrong picture in terms of women’s actual participation, since women were not included in the decision-making bodies process and were not included in the highest structures of the country. For example, in the Politburo only once was one woman over almost 75 years of its existence.

In 2006


Wrong governmental reactions to a just cause

In 2012, the authorities in Bahrain showed little if any readiness to engage with the political opposition and civil society in order to find a fair and sustainable solution to socio-political and socio-economic challenges facing the nation. If anything, officials intensified their repression of the democratic wishes expressed by a sizable number of people in February 2011. Sadly, by shunning repeated calls for face to face roundtable negotiations, officials have only succeeded in harming the country's potential, reputation and ranking in international economic, political and social development indices. This report focuses on the costs to the country's performance on various indicators as well as to the likelihood of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Jasim Husain and Aabdulnabi Alekry
Social Watch Bahrain

The main goal of the mainstream opposition in Bahrain is to transform the country into a constitutional monarchy, much like those in Europe.  Other goals include an elected government; a free press and active civil society; a more equitable distribution of wealth and an end to discrimination against religions other than the Sunni minority. Government opponents also seek the elimination of all forms of administrative and financial malpractice.1

However, instead of engaging with those expressing democratic wishes for a better future for all, the authorities reverted to numerous repressive measures, resulting in injuries and fatalities as well as the imprisonment of hundreds of activists including human rights defenders, religious figures and youths and the dismissal of thousands of Shia from their jobs.  The state-sponsored Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, released in November 2011, documented numerous cases of deliberate mistreatment of the majority Shia at the hands of the security apparatus.2

More importantly, during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held in September 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council imposed some 176 recommendations on the Bahrain government.  Yet, from the onset, human rights defenders and organizations have raised doubts about the willingness of authorities in Bahrain to implement any of the recommendations.3

What can be done? Rightly or wrongly, many political activists in Bahrain look up to the US, the UK and the European Union to help promote democracy in their country.

Certainly, there is only one way forward for Bahrain, namely that of gathering all concerned parties around a series of roundtables designed to develop a fair, equitable and sustained solution.  Any solution must take into account the interests of all local stakeholders, including both Shia and Sunni communities whilst not overlooking the concerns of expatriates living and working in the country, who presently constitute half of the population.

Undermining international standings

As suggested above, government reaction to the popular democratic movement caused other damages, undermining the country's image and rankings in international surveys and indices—particularly in comparison with the other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), namely, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. In particular, the use of force against political groups proved detrimental to the country's image.

For example, in July 2012, Standard and Poor’s, an international credit rating agency, found Bahrain's ratings constrained by "severe domestic political tensions, high geopolitical risks, stagnating real GDP per capita, and the fiscal dependency on sustained high oil prices."4 Consequently, S&P maintained its negative outlook for Bahrain, with no other GCC member state receiving a similar outlook.
True, the agency reaffirmed its long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings of (BBB), but this compares unfavourably with other GCC states.  Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar enjoy an S&P rating of (AA-), as well as stable outlooks. The S&P International rating is one the variables GCC countries use in competing for business.

In addition, Bahrain saw its ranking drop three places to number 42 in Doing Business 2013, a joint report of the World Bank and International Finance Corporation that offers quantitative comparisons on business regulations and the protection of property rights in 185 economies with regards to small and medium enterprises.5  Increasingly, the SMEs are regarded internationally as the major sources of new employment opportunities.

Reviewed economies are ranked on the basis of their performance in 10 different variables, namely starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

Unfortunately, the report recorded zero progress on reforms for Bahrain, reflecting across the board lack of reforms relating to socio-economic and socio-political matters.  Other GCC countries fared better, namely Saudi Arabia (#22), the UAE (#26) and Qatar (#40).

Continuing the negative trend, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 ranks Bahrain the second least competitive economy within the GCC countries after Kuwait.  Happily, Bahrain's ranking improved by two notches to reach number 35 globally, two notches above Kuwait which fell three notches to arrive at number 37, worldwide.6

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) ranks economies on the basis of their achievement in three broad categories, namely: basic requirements, efficiency enhancers and innovation and sophistication factors.  In turn, the basic requirements category is subdivided into institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, while the efficiency enhancers category comprises higher education and training, goods and market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness and market size.  The innovation and sophistication factors category comprises business sophistication and innovation.

The three categories together are used in the formation of the GCI.  The index is developed by using publicly available data and World Economic Forum opinion surveys.  Hundreds of business leaders are polled for the purpose of gathering data for the report.  Sadly, Bahrain suffers from the image problem partly due to improper state practices and lack of initiatives.

In terms of broader development measures, Bahrain fell back three notches to number 42 among the 183 nations in the 2011 Human Development Report.  This placed the country behind GCC countries Qatar and the UAE, which ranked at number 37 and number 30, respectively.  Unlike Bahrain, both Qatar and the UAE moved up a single notch to arrive at their new positions.

The Human Development Index (HDI), an integral part of the report, is drawn up on the basis of three variables, namely: life expectancy at birth, education and income on a purchasing power parity or PPP basis.  Among other things, the HDI listed Qatar as having the highest per capita income in the world, followed by Lichtenstein and the UAE, with Bahrain in a distant place, despite the country’s achievements related to education.7

In addition, Bahrain maintained its adverse performance in matters relating to freedom of expression, judged by the country's ranking Freedom in the World 2013, issued by the Washington-based Freedom House.  Regrettably, the report considers Bahrain amongst countries experiencing worst downturn trends in the period 2009 to 2013.

A country is considered not free if it received between 5.5 to a maximum 7.0 points in the categories of political rights and civil liberties, on both of which Bahrain received 6 points, or not free.  By comparison Kuwait is regarded as partly free, receiving 5 points in both categories.8

Prospects for achieving the MDGs are dim

It is not wrong to claim that certain activities carried out by the authorities in Bahrain since February 2011 run contrary to and in fact represent an affront to some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed by UN member states in 2000.9  Although Bahrain does not suffer from diseases such as malaria, and is not known to have troubles with maternal health, its widespread discriminatory practices against the majority Shia population also left it far from the goal of full and productive employment as well as that of promoting gender equality.

Traditionally, most Shia could not find jobs at security establishments, comprising military, guards, interior and intelligence departments, which together represent a key source of employment. In 2012 and in the aftermath of the democratic movement starting in February 2011, officials increased employment discrimination against Shia seeking government jobs, expanding restrictions to include general government departments dealing with information.  Certainly, this is not to assert that Shia could not be hired in places like education and health, but undoubtedly with increasing difficulty.  There is no simple explanation for the new adverse trend except that of punishing Shia for expressing their democratic wishes.

Thus, whilst many UN members are racing against the clock to achieve the MDGs by 2015, the same may not be true of Bahrain due to the ongoing stifling of dissent and the intensification of racial and anti-religious practices.


1. Geneive Abdo and Jasim Husain Ali, "Misunderstanding Bahrain's Shia protesters," 3 April 2011. Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/03/201132982742988712.html.
2. Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), November 2011. Available at: http://www.bici.org.bh/BICIreportEN.pdf.
3. Human Rights First, “Bahrain's Pledge to Implement UPR Recommendations Met with Skepticism,” 19 September 2012. Available at: http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/2012/09/19/bahrain%E2%80%99s-pledge-to-implement-upr-recommendations-met-with-skepticism.
4. Reuters, “S&P affirms ratings on Bahrain at 'BBB'; outlook still negative,” 25 July 2012. Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/20/idINWLA060220120720.
5. The World Bank and International Finance Corporation, Doing Business 2013(10th ed.), Washington, DC 2013. Available at: http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/bahrainand at: http://issuu.com/world.bank.publications/docs/9780821396155?mode=embed&layout=http://skin.issuu.com/v/light/layout.xml&showFlipBtn=true.
6. World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, Geneva, 2012. Available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2012-13.pdf.
7. UNDP, Human Development Report 2011, New York, 2011. Available at: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf.
8. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2013, Washington, DC, January 2013. Available at: http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FIW%202013%20Booklet.pdf.
9. Millennium Development Goals Indicators (official UN site). Available at: