Beyond the Goals
by Captain Ted Horwood
Millennium Development Goals – An Introduction
Members of a Salvation Army HIV/Aids youth programme in Malawi
IT is unlikely that the people and families featured in this issue of All the World know too much about the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in September 2005. Nor will they know that the 189 member nations of the United Nations unanimously gave a commitment to work towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are eight goals which range in scope from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/Aids, and the target date to accomplish the monumental tasks is 2015.
|A child and maternal health feeding programme|
The people featured in these pages might not have known about the proceedings of the UN but they do know about the commitment of those who work with them to offer hope – the thousands of Salvation Army officers and personnel working in impoverished countries around the world, to whom the principles of the MDGs resonate deeply. To these people who give their skills and energy to improving the lives of the world’s most needy people the MDGs make sense not only because they are global goals with national implications but because it is within The Salvation Army’s mission that we ‘meet human need’. Also, vitally, we believe Jesus’ words that, ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.
A brief look at the MDGs shows an aggressive and time-bound commitment by member nations. There are 1.2 billion people still living on less than US$1 a day, so halving extreme poverty and hunger is the first goal. Currently, an estimated 113 million children do not – or often cannot – attend school, so achieving universal primary education is the second goal. Internationally, two-thirds of those who are illiterate are women and 80 per cent of global refugees are women and children, so the third goal addresses the empowerment of women and the promotion of equality between women and men.
Global health care needs are a significant problem, particularly in developing countries. A staggering 11 million young children die every year. The fourth MDG is therefore to reduce under-five mortality by two-thirds. And the risk of women dying during childbirth is one in 48, so the fifth MDG is to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters. HIV/Aids and malaria are ravaging populations and causing huge social and economic pressures. With this in mind, the sixth goal is to reverse the spread of diseases, especially HIV/Aids and malaria, targeting the pandemics that have essentially erased a whole generation in many countries.
|Captain Ted Horwood shares a meal at an income-generating project in China|
|A community mapping exercise in Malawi discovers the people’s greatest needs|
Finally, the UN members have recognised that environmental issues and debt relief constrain the growth and prosperity of nations around the world. The seventh goal is to ensure environmental sustainability and the eighth goal addresses the huge financial imbalance for countries that must spend vast resources to service debt, inevitably pulling funds away from much-needed social programmes.
There is a battle that rages among many people who read about these goals. Some align themselves with economist Jeffrey Sachs who writes, ‘Ours is the first generation in the history of the world with the ability to eradicate extreme poverty. We have the means, the resources and the know-how. All we lack is the will.’ However, there are others who question whether, after 50 years when an estimated US$2.3 trillion of aid has been pumped into the developing world, the poor are any better off.
To The Salvation Army these are merely ideological arguments. The Army has always been deeply concerned with the needs of the poor but its ministry reaches deeper than the alleviation of physical suffering. Through the stories and photos in this magazine, it’s clear that The Salvation Army is, through its worldwide service, doing its bit towards achieving the eight MDGs. Also evident is that, beyond the purely practical assistance being offered, The Salvation Army is engaged in a work of hope, relationships and love. That is what is reflected in this issue of All the World – and wherever The Salvation Army is at work.
Captain Ted Horwood is The Salvation Army’s International Projects and Development Services Secretary