This article outlines Zambia’s uneven progress towards attaining the MDGs.
The central goal of cutting poverty in half by the end of 2015 appears to be definitely out of reach, whereas the goals of universalising primary education, reversing the HIV epidemic and ensuring access to HIV treatment for all who need it have been virtually reached. The greatest progress towards MDG targets was made in areas that directly involved people as beneficiaries, where their active participation was required, and where costs were not prohibitive. Although the MDGs were incorporated as guiding principles in Zambia’s national planning, they were not set within a rigorous institutionalised planning and budgetary framework. Direct pursuit of the MDGs themselves was largely absent, except for those that fell within the remit of different UN agencies. A critique of the MDG framework is that while responding to widely experienced real human needs, it seemed to do so largely from an external perspective, without sufficient ownership either at the national level of policymakers and planners or at the local level of needs for which individuals required urgent relief. Nevertheless, the MDG framework has been remarkable in the way it has focused the attention of the world on the plight of the poor and those living in less than human conditions. Arguably, this may be the most noteworthy contribution that the entire enterprise has made to human development.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 44.5-6 (2013) The MDG Enterprise: Experiences and Thoughts from Zambia