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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MDGs are everyone's business!

J. Roughan
3 March 2011

At the beginning of our brand new century, Solomon Islands as well as many other nations across the world vowed to do something clear, precise and do-able to reduce poverty, address major health issues and, in general, help the small people of the world become healthier and to live better and longer lives. In other words, produce a fairer world for all!
The 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG), as they came to be known, were worked on by world leaders to reduce severe pockets of poverty, to help the weakest members of society to a better life and to produce a fairer world. These goals were carefully crafted so that the poorest nation in the world could achieve many of these goals within a context of each individual country..
And what makes the MDGs especially powerful is that each and every nation promised to do these great things by 2015 . . . five years from now. But this year--2011--is crunch year! Nation after nation is required to examine itself: How well have these 8 MDGs been achieved, how many are still do-able within the target date and how many are way off target?
In our own country, for instance, we are on target to achieve two goals--reduce infant/child mortality and improving maternal health. Six other goals are either in the 'worri worri' basket--underachievement in universal primary education, fighting malaria, AIDS and TB and reducing  poverty. However, we are currently way off the mark when it comes to empowering women and protecting our environment.
We have less than 5 years to hit our targets! The next few years are critical! What the nation is saying: most of our people are being left behind, the lives of thousands of them are wasted and the health of the whold nation lies in balance. The rebellion in Near-East countries--Egypt, Lybia, Tunesia. etc.--cry out to the rest of the world: Either all lives must be built up or in the long run, no life is protected. Colonel Gaddafi is currently learning this painful lesson in his own country, Lybia..
Solomon Islands' government's track record for raising people's quality of life since 1989 has been poor. That is how long SIDT"s Report Cards have been measuring people's responses to the governments of the day.  Over a 21 year period, then, government after government has proven themselves in capable of reaching out to the bulk of its people to produce quality education, adequate medical service, people's resource assistance and for people to earn modest amounts of money. These are all MDGs! 
If the nation is to successfully achieve its MDGs' goal by 2015, then a new working model must be created. Government, on its own has proven incapable of pulling it off. It needs nelp--organized, nation-wide and commitment.
First of all the largest and best organized and long standing structure--the country's many Churches--must be involved in a far deeper and more sustained way than they have been in the past. Each of them have a deep vested interest in having their own people's lives bettered. Which group, then, would be more than interested to see the whole nation not only reach the MDGs goals but surpass them?
But all the good will in the world is simply not enough! The private sector--large businesses (the banking establishment, communications giants, major and minor wholesale and retail houses)--must be part of the mix as well. After all, all their profits and business success, depends upon the very people who are the MDG focus. Without these small people, then each and every Solomons business enterprise would be forced to close up shop and head for the exits.   
According to a business' yearly turnover it should connect with a number of individual villages. A large business enterprise, for instance, should connect with two to three villages in each province while a smaller business house would connect with a single village in two provinces. This plan does not speak about sponsoring or financially supporting such villages but to enage with villagers to become more involved with the whole concept of what the MDGs are all about. These connections would be done through provincial authorities, churches themselves and the NGO sector.
Solomon Islands is a nation of villages! In past years and even in the present, the Solomons has been viewed as two nations: Honiara and a few provincial centres and the rest, about 85% of the population. This unfortunate state of affairs must cease for the good of all. Those with the most to loose must work at the forefront to change things for the better for the majority. If not, then the country will be known for its poverty rather than the Good Life.

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