Changes we want to see in 2014

Climate Change, Education, Gender, Health, HIV and AIDS, Water

At the dawn of 2014 time is running out for the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). How is the world doing? In the spirit of new  year optimism we asked nine Oxfam experts what their hopes and dreams are for the year ahead in relation to each of the MDGs, and what should come next? 

We begin with the first goal and Duncan Green, blogger, author, lecturer and Oxfam’s chief opinionator.  

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Expert: Duncan Green, Senior Strategic Adviser

In 2012, the world’s richest 100 individuals earned enough to end extreme poverty for the world’s 1.4 billion people living below $1.25 a day four times over. In 2014 they should act on it – a 25% levy on the super-rich, turned into direct cash transfers for the world’s poor would achieve Goal 1. Simples.

Zainabu Jalloh (right) participates in singing activities during class, held in the newly renovated building at Early Learning School in West Point, Monrovia, Liberia. Credit: Aubrey Wade/Oxfam GBGoal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Expert: Shenard Mazengera, Essential Services Adviser

A few months ago, I visited rural Niger where I met children both in and out of school who were a similar age to my own kids. They were the same age, but more shy and less assertive and they spoke less about their dreams. My children get their dreams from going to school every day. Education is an important investment for literacy, and creating aspirations. In the future, I want to see firm commitments to fund quality education allowing all children to have dreams – no matter where they live.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Experts: Ines Smyth, Senior Gender Adviser and Emily Brown, Raising Her Voice Programme Coordinator

Ines: What we want to see in 2014 is a giant step towards that elusive reality when women and girls will be valued, respected and rewarded (equally to men and boys) in all aspects of social life. A springboard for this will be to have a specific goal on women’s rights in the post-2015 framework and robust gender equality targets in all other goals.

Emily: I start 2014 with genuine hope and excitement about new kinds of unashamedly political programming emerging in Oxfam that seek to strengthen women’s voice and influence in decision making.

Resistance to gender equality will continue. In the UK austerity has hit women doubly hard. A prospective councillor in Iran was threatened with having her candidacy withdrawn because she was too attractive. Nigeria proposed a law meaning that women would only become adults in the eyes of the law when they married. Nevertheless, there are good grounds for optimism. Our projects are getting better at understanding how power works, where it lies and how to influence it effectively. This is
political people…. hold onto your hats!

Goals 4 and 5: Reduce child mortality rates and improve maternal health

Experts: Al-hassan Adam, Campaign Manager, Essential Services and Ceri Averill, Health Policy Adviser

Al-hassan: I would like to see southern governments proactively increase their national budget spending on health services which will reduce the burden of child bearing and improve the survival chances for under-fives.  A number of presidents have said they would like ownership of the post-2015 process, this is a brilliant idea. They should demonstrate their commitment by stepping up their contributions to the MDGs. Then they can build on their achievements from 2015.

Ceri: I recently met a midwife in a remote area of Nepal who told me about the impact of free maternal health care in her community:

“Since the government introduced free deliveries many more women are coming to the health centre to give birth safely. We used to see just four or five women each month and now it is more than 20 – I’m always busy! In the past, women with no money had no option but to give birth at home and many women and babies died from complications.”

User fees for life-saving health care punish the poor and prevent millions of ordinary people from getting the treatment they need – yet they continue to exist in many poor countries. Removing user fees is a proven way to improve the health of women and children and accelerate progress on MDGs 4 and 5. More action is urgently needed to help governments in poor countries to introduce free health care.

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

Expert: Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Senior Health and HIV Policy Adviser

My wish for 2014 is that all medicines needed for treating HIV, Hepatitis C, TB, malaria and other diseases prevalent in developing countries will be made available and affordable to the millions of people who need them. I also hope that governments and donors will scale up investment in health systems so that people can have access to diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. 

Igira Lometo and Nawok Nakang collecting water from Nathapir man made lake, Uganda. Credit:Sven Torfinn/OxfamGoal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Expert: Leslie Morris-Iveson, Water Programme Policy Adviser

Around 89% of the global population now has access to water, but around 30% still lacks sanitation.  Progress is needed in rural, marginalized areas, as well as “unregulated” urban areas.  Inequity is the biggest barrier.

Climate change, urbanization and land use changes are placing increasing pressure on water supplies, and water has become a highly politicised issue. The post-2015 goals need to take these pressures into account.  

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Expert: Ben Phillips, Campaigns and Policy Director

My wish for Goal 8 is that rich countries accept that they can walk and chew gum: they stop the false debate about “delivering on aid” versus “tackling the causes of poverty”, and do both. On the causes of poverty, rich country governments need to stop representing the interests behind runaway climate change and egregious tax dodging, and start sticking up for a values-driven society that reduces inequality and doesn’t trash the planet. I’d also like a Nintendo, but I’ll settle for the Goal 8 thing. 

And back to Duncan Green for the final word…The greedy developed world

What’s next? The world’s governments wake up to the fact that climate change is a bigger threat to national and global security than terrorism will ever be, and get into serious, difficult negotiation about how to pull back from the brink of a meltdown.

Roll on the post-post-2015 agenda, aka real development: the interaction between citizens and states, building accountable institutions for all.

 Thanks to all the contributors…

Oxfam experts

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  • Sunrise in Barguna Sadar, Bangladesh. Credit: Ami Vitale/Oxfam
  • Early Learning School in West Point, Monrovia, Liberia. Credit: Aubrey Wade/Oxfam
  • Women at a rally for the domestic violence bill in Pakistan. Credit: Oxfam
  • Sabina Saru with her daughter Sejal Saruat, Dola, Nepal. Credit: Tom Pietrasik/Oxfam
  • Igira Lometo and Nawok Nakang collecting water, Nathapir, Uganda. Credit:Sven Torfinn/Oxfam

Author: Al-hassan Adam
Archive blog. Originally posted on Oxfam Policy & Practice.