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Ethical FashionWith a mission of empowering women through fashion, the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) unites people from impoverished communities across the world to turn their passions and skills into an income for themselves and their families. Women and men from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Kenya, Mali, Tajikistan, Uganda and Uzbekistan are able to sell their crafted goods through the Ethical Fashion Initiative.

Goal to Reduce Global Poverty

Beginning its work in 2009, EFI proudly creates long-term and sustainable jobs. Beyond this, they also contribute to six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) directly and two indirectly. The SDGs are 17 United Nations (UN) goals focused on providing a better and more sustainable future for the world.  The UN created the goals in 2015 with a timeline of achieving each by 2030.  EFI believes that to achieve the SDGs, sustainable and ethical fashion has to play a significant role.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative operates as part of the International Trade Centre’s Poor Communities and Trade Programme (PCTP). It continues the mission of PCTP to reduce global poverty through empowering entrepreneurs in impoverished communities. It also bridges the gap between development and fashion in these countries. Finally, it empowers community artisans to grow their skills and knowledge while making a consistent and reliable earning for themselves.

Supporting Communities and Building Infrastructure

Beyond just connecting these artisans to the fashion world, EFI works to support and sustain its artisan community. Beginning in 2015 with one hub in Kenya, the EFI now operates through hubs in various countries to create a business infrastructure.    With quality control initiatives, management support, workshops on industry education and professionalism, EFI does more than just provide a space to sell crafts.

Connecting Local Artisans to Global Brands

The Ethical Fashion Initiative has connected local artisans to global brands like Biffi Boutiques, Carmina Campus, Chan Luu, Instituto-E, Isetan, Karen Walker, Marni, Mimco, Osklen, sass & bide, Stella McCartney, United Arrows, Vivienne Westwood and Yanvalou Designs. Not only are these brands supporting the artisan of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, they too are working towards the end of global poverty.

Monitoring Progress through RISE

Respect, Invest, Sustain and Empower are the words behind EFI’s acronym RISE. RISE is the initiative’s program dedicated to monitoring and tracking the sustainability, supply chain and production of these artisanal products. RISE is also responsible for connecting the product to the consumer. The program is able to do this through its three-tier system: assess, control and trace. From “product passports” to highlighting specific local artisan communities, RISE communicates the EFI mission globally. RISE also demonstrates how the consumer can play a role in ending global poverty through sustainable fashion.

Beyond the products it connects the world to, the Ethical Fashion Initiative also connects the world to the people of its community. From purses and backpacks to pillows and shoes, the Ethical Fashion Initiative is taking a stance on global poverty. It is fighting for a better tomorrow through ethical fashion. This connected global market is more than just high fashion, it is a resource for many people to create a better future for themselves and the world.

– Annaclaire Acosta
Photo: Flickr

Mali and the TNA Project
Mali is a West African country with a population of 20 million people. The country’s high poverty levels have long-term impacts on the physical health of citizens. With a poverty rate of 42.7% in 2019, many citizens suffer from malnutrition. In response, the Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) project’s overall focus on environmental health helps mitigate the long-term effects of poverty within the country. Mali and the TNA project have helped the country utilize agricultural technology to develop programs and projects centered on these impacts of poverty.

What is TNA?

The U.N. Environment Programme and the UNEP DTU partnership (U.N. Environment and the Technical University of Denmark) created the Technology Needs Assistance project in 2001. The Global Environment Facility helps finance this multi-phased project.

TNA has helped people in more than 80 countries, with a primary focus on environmental health. It uses a country-led approach in order to develop accountability. TNA generally helps countries make improvements to many of the programs and projects already in place.

The work of TNA aligns with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs emerged to end poverty and other deprivations through global partnership. TNA recognizes the role technology can have in achieving these goals, especially in the area of environmental health.

Mali and TNA

Mali faces a serious risk of droughts. Droughts can have disastrous economic and environmental effects by damaging agriculture, water supplies and more. In response to this risk, Mali and the TNA project helped develop field contouring. Field contouring prevents soil erosion and water run-off. In one rural part of the country, Koutiala, the water run-off has reduced by at least 20% and the crop yields have increased by 30%. Additionally, Mali and TNA developed micro-hydroelectric stations that benefit the rural and urban areas of the country by providing clean energy.

Although Mali completed its TNA in 2012, the Institute of Rural Economy measures the progress and impacts of the technology that this project introduced. This research agency mainly focuses on agricultural, livestock and food technology. TNA focused on the agriculture, water resources and energy sector of the country to improve overall environmental health. Despite the country’s completion of TNA almost a decade ago, there are still clear benefits from the project. For example, the Institute of Rural Economy continues to hold training sessions and collect data to ensure the country is advancing in technology. Overall, TNA in Mali aligns with five SDGs: clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production, climate action and life on land.

CORAF in Mali

Since the TNA project in Mali officially ended, the country has taken steps to continue improving its practices for environmental health. The Conference of the Agricultural Research Leaders in West and Central Africa (CORAF) is an international nonprofit organization that focuses on agricultural production. Currently, Mali has implemented 23 CORAF projects. This organization works with different agricultural programs in Mali to improve and strengthen its agricultural technology. Its main goal is to reduce poverty and malnutrition in the country.

Although Mali has phased out of the TNA project, the nation is still working to improve its agricultural technology. Utilizing technology is one step toward mitigating the impacts of poverty within Mali.

– Mia Banuelos
Photo: Flickr

Public Development BanksIn November 2020, the world’s 450 Public Development Banks (PDBs) gathered at the first-ever global summit, the Finance in Common Summit. The summit emphasized that PDBs have an essential role in meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that encompasses both short-term responses and sustainable recovery measures. The commitment of PDBs to a joint effort in support of vulnerable communities around the world is an unprecedented step toward inclusive global development.

Public Development Banks

Public Development Banks are essential to the global economy and play a key role in fighting extreme poverty and hunger by bridging finance and public policy. PDBs are supported or controlled by governments but are legally and financially independent. Investments by PDBs made up 10% of yearly public and private investments in 2018, though all PDB investments are public, allowing the banks to openly and actively direct finances toward the evolution of international economic order and inclusion of declining countries with fewer limitations. This makes PDBs especially effective at supporting change for institutions, economies and infrastructure that reflects their public mandate to work in favor of entrepreneurs and vulnerable groups, such as women and children. None of the financing done by PDBs is related to consumers, individual accounts or credit.

A Cause for Cooperation

Conditions in areas suffering from extreme poverty are declining due to climate change and COVID-19. Developing countries have limited capacity to adapt their unstable agricultural methods and systems to changing climates. The capacity that does exist, including aid received, has been strained by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and social issues that accompany it. Common hardships have shed light on the need for united relief efforts that reach all regions and societies, and Public Development Banks have taken action by joining in unprecedented discussion and collective decisionmaking. The desired outcome was a diverse and collaborative movement to achieve the SDGs and respond to the challenges arising from COVID-19 and climate change.

The Future of PDB Financing

The developments made at the Finance in Common summit are clearly communicated in a joint declaration made by all 450 PDBs. The Public Development Banks came to a consensus for aligned strategies and investments that will support sustainable growth in societies and the global economy, all while prioritizing eco-friendliness. Future activity of PDBs will be targeted at attaining the SDGs and responding to a changing climate. Another outcome of the summit was a group of PDBs that will focus investments on rural sectors and agriculture around the world to help eradicate poverty and hunger.

Steps that PDBs have committed to taking together include transitioning investments to support low-carbon and climate-resilient solutions, renewable and clean energy and ecosystem restoration. Also on the global PDB agenda is improving the accessibility of education, housing, hygiene and sanitation as well as advancing social and financial inclusion. These measures were developed with the world’s most vulnerable in mind: young people and the elderly, members of rural communities, refugees and small-scale producers, among others. The alliance of PDBs is dedicated to achieving these goals while upholding best practices in finance and global inclusion.

PDBs Fighting Global Poverty

Public Development Banks have displayed a capacity to serve as leaders in the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. Their landmark summit can be a model for future progress toward equality in all parts of the world. In the middle of widespread crisis and instability, such international cooperation is needed more than ever.

– Payton Unger
Photo: Flickr

Ending Poverty, Updates on the SDGs in BoliviaThe first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” and requires every nation to develop a comprehensive plan to address systemic problems that contribute to the creation of poverty. This requires international cooperation. Although the United States appears to be a likely ally in Bolivia’s effort to eradicate poverty and accomplish its SDGs, America’s relationship with Bolivia has historically been imperfect.

Background

In the 1970s, economists from the University of Chicago drove Bolivia’s economy into the ground with a series of free-market reforms that generated widespread poverty. More recently, the United States was accused of participating in a coup that led to the removal of President Evo Morales. Compared with less affluent nations, America’s disproportionate influence with the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund is worrisome to less influential nations, like Bolivia.

Bolivian officials brought their criticisms of the language used to write the introduction and preamble of the U.N.’s sustainable development goals to the U.N.’s attention, and revisions were made. Their chief complaint was, “That the preamble and the introductory section of the proposed document are setting out a western and anthropocentric mindset of the world, reinforcing a mindset which has originated the current problems of the world for not achieving sustainable development.”

This called into question the U.N.’s ability, functioning as it currently does, to address the global poverty and environmental crises.

National SDG Progress in 2021

Every few years, a group of U.N. member nations volunteer to present their progress on SDG goals. In July 2021, Bolivia will be among four other nations to present for the first time during the U.N. High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This demonstrates Bolivia’s eagerness to cooperate with the U.N., despite stated differences in perspective and approach.

The first SDG goal will be emphasized by the forum, as well as goals 10, 12 and 13. These last three goals deal with issues related to ethnic diversity and environmental sustainability, which are at the forefront of Bolivia’s national development policy. Significantly, as a first-time presenter, Bolivia will have half an hour to present to the forum.

Rosa Vera Fund

As part of its updates on the first SDG goal in Bolivia to the United Nations, perhaps Bolivia will summarize the work done by the Rosa Vera Fund, which provides physical therapy to Bolivian children with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and physical disabilities. Through physical therapy, the Rosa Vera Fund ultimately helps children with physical disabilities lead lives with greater economic independence. In the short term, the Rosa Vera Fund works with children during hours when their mothers are at work, thus freeing many Bolivian women from the obligation to take care of their children during the day. This program leads to immediate and long term benefits for Bolivian workers.

In partnership with the Consejo de Salud Rural Andino Montero, the Rosa Vera Fund was established in 2005. It provides essential care to approximately 60,000 patients in Montero. While its impact cannot be measured in rough trends, the Rosa Vera Fund has impacted thousands of Bolivians’ lives. Its work seeks to reduce poverty rates for Bolivians with physical disabilities, as well as poverty rates for the mothers of Bolivian children with physical disabilities.

Recently, the Rosa Vera Fund acknowledged that it faced obstacles when it delivered service to its clients because of widespread unrest in Montero after the removal of President Evo Morales. The updates about the SDGs in Bolivia indicate some of the historical precedents for political unrest in Bolivia.

Regardless of political strife, the Rosa Vera Fund is confident in the ongoing viability of its mission: “As future political changes unfold, we are confident that the Rosa Vera Fund will be able to weather the storm and just keep plugging along, doing what we do best: Provide medical care and social interventions for children with special health care needs, who have no other options.”

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Quality and Inclusive Education in India, an Update on the fourth SDGThe fourth Sustainable Development Goal laid out by the U.N. is “Quality Education.” This SDG aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” India has made remarkable progress in increasing the enrolment of students for primary education over the last decade. Various schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have played a major role in universalizing education in India. The Right to Education Act which makes free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14 years under Article 21 (A) of the Constitution of India has made education in India a fundamental right. In India, Kerala is the best-performing state, whereas Bihar is the worst performing state with respect to the index score of the fourth sustainable development goal.

Efforts to Build Quality and Inclusive Education in India

  1. A mid-day meal scheme was launched in India for students in government and government-aided primary schools to increase enrolment, retention and attendance along with improving children’s nutritional status. It is a centrally sponsored scheme which was launched on August 15, 1995, to improve education in India. In 2008, the benefits of the scheme were extended to all areas across the country.
  2. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (save the daughter, educate the daughter) is a 2015 initiative that was undertaken to primarily spread awareness about the current state of girls’ education in India. In the mass communication campaign, education was highlighted as a tool for women empowerment and how it would ensure a bright future for girls. The objectives of the scheme also include ensuring the survival and protection of girls and eliminating gender-biased sex selection.
  3. Over the past two decades, the Government of India has launched various schemes to ameliorate the predicament of gender and social gaps in education. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All Movement) was a flagship program launched in 2000-2001 to make education universally accessible and to bridge the gap in education between gender and social categories. The intervention included investment in school infrastructure, such as opening new schools, construction of additional classrooms, toilets and drinking water, among other factors that would result in improvement of education outcomes.
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced education to be shifted online in India. The shift to the online medium of learning has been challenging for students all across the country. But the effect of this crisis has had the worst implications on poverty-stricken people in remote villages who do not have internet connectivity, electricity or resources to access quality education.

The implementation of such schemes launched by the central government has led to significant progress in achieving universal primary education enrolment for both girls and boys in India. Despite an increase in inclusive education in India, it is imperative to study whether quality education is provided universally. With an increase in the enrolment for primary education, there is a need to ensure that issues, such as low absenteeism of teachers, lack of proper infrastructure, unsafe drinking water and improper sanitation facilities, are overcome.

The COVID-19 pandemic throws light at how disproportionally it affects the marginalized communities and economically weaker sections of the society by making education inaccessible. The need of the hour is to invest in education by making it inclusive and accessible, bridge the gap in education outcomes that arises due to inequality of income, and ensure quality education is provided to everybody.

-Anandita Bardia
Photo: Flickr

Farm to ForkRecently, the European Union Green Deal created a new food security strategy called the “Farm to Fork Strategy.” The European Union Green deal aims to make Europe the most climate-neutral continent and the Farm to Fork strategy is at the heart of this goal. Farm to Fork is a directive designed to “ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food.” The EU particularly noted that global food systems cannot be resilient during times of crisis such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, unless food systems are sustainable. The EU further noted that food systems need to be redesigned in order to reduce negative impacts on the environment.

The Farm to Fork Strategy

On June 2, 2020, The EU dedicated €10 billion towards developing the start of the program by donating towards “the research and innovation of food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and the environment” along with developing new technology to find a nature-based solution for naturally grown food, that is also sustainable year-round and throughout multiple years, by growing annuals in the farms of European countries. This trial run, done exclusively in Europe, hopes to be a pioneer in agriculture, destined to help millions globally once the project receives more traction.

The Farm to Fork Strategy stands in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and not only plans to provide more sustainable food sources but will also provide aid to issues such as global warming, pollution, deforestation and overfishing. The overall goal is to “ensure food security and create a safe food environment” globally.

The Main Goals of Farm to Fork:

  • Ensuring sustainable food production;
  • Ensuring food security;
  • Stimulating sustainable food processing, wholesale, retail, hospitality and food services practices;
  • Promoting sustainable food consumption and facilitating the shift to healthy, sustainable diets;
  • Reducing food loss and waste;
  • Combating food fraud along the food supply chain.

This detailed plan, if executed properly, is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global food shortages. Targets that are essential to meet in order to reach the environmental and food safety goals of Farm to Fork are:

  • a reduction by 50% in the use of chemical and hazardous pesticides by 2030;
  • a reduction of nutrient losses by at least 50% while ensuring that there is no deterioration in soil fertility;
  • a reduction in the use of fertilizers by at least 20% by 2030;
  • a reduction of overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and aquaculture of 50% by 2030;
  • reaching 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030.

The Potential Impact of Farm to Fork

With the use of the Farm to Fork Strategy, the entire world could be more self-sustaining. The initiative could help millions around the world who struggle with food scarcity, making sustainable agriculture one of the most important fields in society. Farm to Fork helps not only food scarcity but the environment as a whole as well. Farm to Fork aims to do more than just curb global hunger, ultimately, aiming to make the planet a better place as a whole.

Alexis LeBaron
Photo: Flickr

apps improving access to clean waterThe United Nation’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal is devoted to enhancing clean water and sanitation. Specifically, it calls for equitable access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation for all by 2030. However, nearly one-third of the global population lacks access to clean drinking water. Some companies are making solutions to this problem in the form of apps improving access to clean water.

The Problem

The World Health Organization defines safe water as 20 liters per person per day of accessible, clean drinking water within one kilometer of a household or business. Without safe water, families must spend more time caring for sick loved ones and fetching water from far-away sources. This often prevents them from joining the workforce and earning an income. Businesses and schools that are unable to provide safe water often struggle to retain staff and students. Overall, communities without safe water are more susceptible to illnesses and destruction from natural disasters. Indeed, diarrheal diseases stemming from unsafe water usage and poor sanitation kills nearly 1,000 children per day.

Thankfully, technological innovation for accessing clean water is on the rise. New technological solutions range from fog-to-water conversion systems to easy-to-use water filters. Below are three apps improving access to clean water by collecting, harnessing and sharing important water systems data around the world.

mWater

John Feighery, a former NASA employee, and his wife Annie Feighery created mWater in the mid-2000s for Android devices. After working for a company testing well water in El Salvador, Mr. Feighery learned that the process of testing for clean water was cumbersome and expensive. He collected samples with heavy machinery, transported them to a far-away lab for testing and recorded locations by hand. Mr. Feighery decided he could simplify the process using technology he used with the International Space Station.

He and his wife created mWater, which records the results and precise locations of water quality tests on a mobile device. Anyone with the app can view the data. Users can add pictures and write notes on scent and appearance. Additionally, they can add data from new tests they’ve conducted using the $10 water testing kit available from the app.

With its global water quality database and expedited process of identifying safe water, mWater is one of the most comprehensive apps improving access to clean water. Today, more than 75,000 governments, NGOs, health workers and researchers use mWater for free in 180 countries. They include UN-Habitat, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and The Water Project. Altogether, mWater receives and records 250,000 water surveys per month for public use.

Akvo Flow

One of the few apps improving access to clean water is Akvo Flow. Peter van der Linde and Jeroen van der Sommen founded Akvo Flow after meeting at the World Water Week conference, in Stockholm. They wanted to improve the way that water quality data was presented via open-source technology. This allows governments and organizations to better address the issue of finding safe water. Akvo works with users to design projects, capture meaningful data, understand the data and act to improve conditions. To date, Akvo has implemented software in 70 countries by working with more than 20 governments and 200 organizations.

It aims to increase accountability, transparency and productivity for each partner organizations. Akvo Flow does this by streamlining the data collection process, which allows for quicker decision making. Some of its partnerships include setting up a sanitation monitoring system in Mauritania and working with Water for People in Peru to design solutions. Additionally, it works with UNICEF and the Ministry of Water Resources to test water quality nationwide in Sierra Leone.

Open Water Data

As the name suggests, Open Water Data makes water data available to the public. Founded in 2017 by a group of software engineers and data scientists from Datameet, Open Water Data only applies to India, where it is based. Extreme flooding followed by water-source depletion in India led the group to question the country’s water management systems. They found that the public is unable to access much of India’s water data, despite the fact that local governments need extensive data to implement water management systems.

In response, the founders created an easy-to-use map-based web app with available data from Google’s Earth Engine. It includes datasets from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Now, the app is one of a few improving access to clean water. It is a one-stop-shop for information on daily rainfall, soil moisture, groundwater and reservoir shortages. Researchers and local governments can create simple models in water-scarce regions and plan for flood mitigation using Open Water Data’s tools. Additionally, plans are in place to create a database that all parties can contribute to.

The Future of Apps Improving Access to Clean Water

In July 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed concern about the progress of Sustainable Development Goal 6. Specifically, he cited climate change, pollution and increasing demand as obstacles. If clean water and sanitation remain problems in 2030, global health, education and climate change will suffer. These apps improving access to clean water through data management are just one way that technology can crowdsource solutions to the global water crisis.

McKenna Black
Photo: Flickr

Updates on SDG Goal 1 in AfghanistanThough Afghanistan is a relatively poor country, it is on the road to betterment. The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, are helping to create this reality and below are some updates on SDG Goal 1 in Afghanistan.

What are the SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an agenda for global change, put together by the leaders of 193 nations and slated to span 15 years, from 2015 to 2030. A broad look at the SDGs can be broken down into three primary goals:
1. End Extreme Poverty
2. Fight Inequality and Injustice
3. Protect Our Planet

What the SDGs Mean For Afghanistan

The Millennium Development Goals — a similar set of precursor goals, intended for the years 2000 to 2015 — set the previous stage for success within Afghanistan. Despite the country’s continuous challenge in creating better lives for its citizens, Afghanistan made much progress during these years. For example, the first 15 years of the millennia saw a change in the mortality rate of Afghan children; in 2001, 25% of Afghans would die before age five, while today that number is down to 10%. Although this statistic is still alarming when compared to those of the developed world, it constitutes a significant improvement. Fast-forwarding to 2015, the compiling of the SDGs took place at the United Nations General Assembly. There, Chief Executive Abdullah Adulla — GoIRA, represented Afghanistan and committed to pursuing the SDGs within his nation.

Since October 2015, upon the approval of the Afghan Minister’s cabinet, the Ministry of Economy has taken the responsibility of keeping track of Afghanistan’s progress and reports regarding the SDGs. The cabinet is currently working on nationalizing the agenda and extending consultations to those with an international stake in Afghanistan reaching its SDG targets.

Progress So Far

Specific updates on SDG Goal 1 in Afghanistan or updates in ending extreme poverty mostly concern planning, rather than actual action. Extreme poverty describes those living on less than $1.25 per day. While 42% of Afghans are below the poverty line (meaning they live on less than $1.90 per day), it is unclear what portion of this statistic is made up of those suffering in “extreme” poverty. Regardless, a great deal of preparation has been made in efforts to achieve SDG Goal 1 in Afghanistan; e.g., 111 national targets and 178 indicators are set for the country.

Recommendations and reports concerning the SDGs are on the minds of Afghan leaders. Aligning Afghanistan’s National Priority Programs with the United Nations SDGs is complete and communications and advocacy strategies are drawn up and approved by the SDGs Executive Committee. In addition, the Targets Prioritization Guideline has been finalized and shared with the relevant authorities.

A Final Outlook: Positive Trends

On a more humanitarian level, the Sustainable Development Report shows updates on SDG Goal 1 in Afghanistan as somewhat bleak. “Major challenges remain” still characterizes most of the assessment of the nation’s progress. However, this does not mean that a great deal of improvement has not already taken place. In terms of hunger issues, the prevalence of starving children in Afghanistan has dropped, as has the prevalence of obesity. The general health and wellness trajectory also seems promising — with maternal mortality rates and new HIV rates in particular, dropping significantly.

Overall, while updates on SDG Goal 1 in Afghanistan may on the surface be merely organizationally based — the nation is making a great deal of important progress towards the end goal. By 2030, the country’s outlook might well be much more promising.

Ava Roberts
Photo: Flickr

SDGs 2030: Will The Governments Of Developing Countries Deliver?Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs in developing countries have been viewed as ambitious. However, more efforts have been invested in the continuous realization of these development goals by international communities, nonprofit organizations, civil societies and, of course, domestic governments.

SDGs and Developing Countries

According to reports, to achieve one of the SDG targets, the “sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” will cost $27 billion per year by 2030 and the infrastructure will cost up to $290 billion. Is this too ambiguous for the national governments in the developing world? Or a pitiable reason to hide from actualizing these goals nationally.

Developing countries have been a major focus of the SDGs. With the idea that ‘no one will be left behind’, the U.N. and its partners have contributed immensely in solving a long list of issues faced by the developing world. Funds have been deposited and used for different projects. Expertise in creating sustainable solutions and commitments are being made to secure a better future. 

SDG Index

The SDG performance by countries is determined by the SDG Index and Dashboard on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest level of performance and 100 is the highest level of performance. Countries like Sweden (84.5), Denmark (83.9), Norway (82.3) and Finland (81) rank high in achieving their SDGs.

Countries such as the Central African Republic (26.1), Liberia (30.5) and Niger (31.4) are not doing as well as the aforementioned countries. Evidently, these countries are some of the poorest in the world. A poor economy can be one of the causes for weak results.

Politics and SDGs in Developing Countries

One of the reasons slowing down the SDGs in developing countries is that development projects are usually abandoned by their governments. This normally happens in rival socio-political settings.

In Africa, most projects funded and managed by previous administrations are eventually stopped or replaced by the ruling administrations due to different political views, political parties or general lack of interest.

Some farmers in Nigeria have criticized the replacement of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme by the former president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration with the current president Muhammadu Buhari’s Agricultural Implements and Mechanisation Services (AIMS).

“There is always a policy somersault. This government will bring this one and when another person comes, they will bring another one whether it is good or not.”, said Daniel Okafor, Vice President of Root and Tubers of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).

The farmers are upset with their government as it continues to create new programs without improving the old ones. More often, the development policies and programs are often aligned with the vision of developmental goals but may lack seriousness due to the ulterior motives.

In developing countries, parties struggle to own power and when they eventually do gain power, eliminating the projects of the previous administration becomes the primary goal.

The lack of bipartisanship in the polity environment brews enough hatred; shutting down any programs related to the opposition party no matter how promising they are.

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the U.N. noted that bipartisanship can promote peace, unity and growth. Political parties should stand for a common goal regardless of their political views and hustle for power. Ideas can be shared and implemented with the help of the other parties.

Bipartisanship will ease congressional processes in changing, debating and making laws that can benefit the realization of SDGs.

Corruption and SDGs in Developing Countries

Corruption can also cause a lot of setbacks. Africa loses $50 billion every year due to corruption. The Sustainable Development Goal 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, covers commitments to fight corruption and encourage transparency.

Corruption impedes national development, hinders economic growth, slows or shutdown developmental programs on education, labor, healthcare, water and sanitation and leads to more poverty.

Recently, the U.K. suspended funding to Zambia after a report that $4.3 million intended for the poor population had gone missing. 17 million people in Zambia, or half of its population, live below $1.90 a day. It is important to find out how much of the monetary aid is really getting lost to corruption and the best method to curb it.

Criminalization of corruption can serve as a major tool in curbing corruption. Ruling parties must not protect corrupt public servants, especially in Africa where previous corrupt officers collude with the ruling parties in order to be shielded from scrutiny and court cases.

Governments must encourage transparency and promote access to national financial data and budget spending.

SDGs and Subnational Conflicts

Another factor that may impede the success of SDGs in developing countries is tribal or subnational conflicts which are still rampant in Africa and Asia.

While Asia experiences economic growth in the midst of subnational conflicts, Africa’s economy has always been affected by violent conflicts due to terrorist groups, tribal wars and minorities unrest.

Poverty will decrease when inequalities between different groups reduce as also when there are inclusive growth and participation of minorities in resource control. Combating unemployment will also lessen the high rate of conflicts in developing countries.

Conclusion

Domestic policies in the areas of trade, human development, agriculture, economy and climate change can reduce poverty and hunger, improve health systems, create resilient methods toward climate shocks and breed peace in societies.

It is for the central, state and local governments to take up these responsibilities to achieve the SDGs in developing countries. Civil Societies and private sectors should also see this as an opportunity to make the world a better place.

It is possible for developing countries to achieve at least 80 percent of their SDGs: it all depends on good governance and passion for humanity.

Photo: Flickr

 

African Countries Are Behind in EducationThe U.N. has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for developing countries in order to mobilize efforts to improve the quality of life for people living in poverty. The fourth goal of the SDGs is to have access to quality education. In the SDG 2017 report, research showed that enrollment in primary education is going up, but some countries, such as African countries, are behind in education.

A Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report done by UNESCO found that in sub-Saharan Africa, 41 percent of students in primary education don’t complete basic education. The report also said that 87 percent of students don’t reach the minimum proficiency level in reading. This equates to more than one in four young people in the region that can not read or write proficiently.

There are many factors as to why African countries are behind in education, one of them being poverty. But other factors for this issue have to do with the organization of the education system. The GEM report found that less than half of the developing countries had created standards for primary education. Additionally, education systems did not have the means to monitor how students develop or teachers progress. The lack of organization of an educational system causes classrooms to be overcrowded and poorly resourced with teachers that are not qualified.

There are some programs that are addressing these issues. For example, UNESCO is working to improve the quality of teachers’ abilities and to develop a curriculum to improve the learning experience for students. The program also focuses on teaching students skills that are relevant while also providing gender-inclusive literacy programs.

Another way to improve education in African countries is to invest in technology in schools. Internet access is common for people in developed countries but is not distributed equally around the world. Students that live in African countries could benefit from Internet access because of the access to information and connection to resources.

SDGs are obtainable for all developing countries, including countries in Africa. Further investment in the educational systems, the creation of plans and providing a curriculum that is beneficial for students will help provide children with quality education. Investing in technology will also help students learn and help teachers teach, providing a better future for young people in developing countries.

Deanna Wetmore

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