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MDGs highlight failed policies

THE United Nations (UN) has released a disturbing report regarding Lesotho’s progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the deadline of 2015.
Lesotho was among the 189 nations which, in 2000, committed themselves to be guided by the goals in improving the lot of their people by December 2015.
The MDGs, which are eight in total, range from eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, to combating deadly diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

All the eight goals are tailored to ensure equality for every citizen as they are also meant to guarantee free, quality primary education and gender-equality, improve maternal health, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

In his speech to unveil Lesotho’s 2013 MDGs Status Report last week, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane observed the kingdom was struggling to remain on track on four goals, namely eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis.
Dr Thabane rightly noted this was a disappointing scenario considering his government’s undertaking when it assumed power in June 2012, that it would prioritise these particular areas, which have been the people’s nemesis over the years.

Yet the UN report itself says Lesotho is only on track on a mere two MDGs — achieving universal primary education and gender equality — meaning the other six goals would need a miracle to be achieved in the remaining one-and-a-half years before next year’s deadline.

Of-course, this damning report is hardly the fault of the current coalition government which only came to power two years ago, but reflects badly on the previous administrations led by Pakalitha Mosisili.
A government that cannot ensure the wellbeing of a mere 1.8 million people when the country is endowed with valuable natural resources such as diamonds and water, cannot boast of having been a success, no-matter the arguments it might want to advance in its defence.

What is also equally disturbing is the fact that Lesotho has so many international donors funding programmes targeting the very same MDGs it has fared so badly in, such as combating HIV/AIDS and malaria, ensuring environmental sustainability and a global partnership for development.

But with 17 months still remaining until the MDGs deadline, the coalition leaders still have enough time to make a difference in the lives of the people, 57.1 percent of whom live in extreme poverty, as indicated in the UN report under discussion.

However, the UN makes an important point when observing why Lesotho is failing to make progress in areas such as HIV/AIDS “despite massive injection of funds and well-developed policies and strategies”, by urging the government to revise how it implements these strategies.

Hopefully, the coalition government leaders will not adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach, if Lesotho is to emerge from its current embarrassing, if not sad, situation.
Lesotho is a country at peace with itself and its neighbours and has every opportunity to focus on bettering the lives of its people without being unnecessarily distracted by civil wars or dictatorships.
Yet the sad reality, as indicated by the UN report, is some of these strife-torn nations are even doing better than Lesotho in reaching their MDGs, which should be food for thought for this country’s leadership.

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