UN MDG Report 2015

The UN recently released its final MDG Report 2015, which documents the fifteen-year effort to achieve the aspirational goals set out in the millennium declaration. Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, claimed the findings have “produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history,” but was careful to acknowledge the gaps that still remain. Below are the top ten points to be aware of. (Click the photo to watch the video of the launch)Screenshot 2015-07-09 at 10.22.26 AM

  1. Progress made in an unfinished agenda. This theme is repeated throughout the entire structure of the report. For example, while the literacy rate among youth aged 15-24 increased globally from 83% to 91%, there is still a lot of work to be done. It cautions that once a goal is reached in one region, progress does not simply stop: it must continue, as well as accelerate, in the post-2015 development agenda and the implementation of the SDGs.
  2. Those living in poverty worldwide decreased by 50%. This figure is an overwhelmingly positive step in the fight against global poverty, as the number dropped from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015. Despite this improvement, the number is still too high and eradicating poverty and hunger is at the center of the post-2015 agenda. All the other goals will depend and build on this outcome.
  3. Gender equality still has a long way to go. This global struggle is a slow and ongoing process; while several regions have reached gender parities in primary education, disparities still persist at higher levels. The gender gap is based on several issues, such as gender-based discrimination, violence, and unequal participation in private and public decision-making. Female empowerment and education form one of the pillars of THP, so the promotion of gender equality remains an important focus in future advocacy efforts and the SDGs.
  4. Child mortality rates have decreased by more than 50%. The global under-five mortality rate dropped from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births, a significant achievement, but many of the world’s youngest and those in the most vulnerable situations still perish from preventable causes, such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria. There also needs to be an additional focus on the first day, week, and month of a child’s life, as these stages are the most critical for survival
  5. Despite improvements in maternal survival, hundreds of women die every day during pregnancy or from childbirth-related complications, most of which are preventable. Additionally, only 56% of births in rural areas are attended by skilled health personnel, compared with 87% in urban areas. There is a lack of access and knowledge of proven health-care interventions, such as antenatal care in pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth, and care and support in the weeks after childbirth. Reductions in newborn and maternal mortality rates go hand-in-hand and while they have their own separate issues, they can be solved together with improved antenatal and postnatal maternal care
  6. Investments in the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria have brought unprecedented results. Over 6.2 million malaria deaths were averted between 2000 and 2015, while tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions saved an estimated 37 million lives between 2000 and 2013. Yet recent outbreaks such as the spread of Ebola provide global lessons for stopping future epidemics and highlight the country and global preparedness needed to avoid them.
  7. The global target for drinking water has been met 5 years ahead of schedule, but the target for sanitation has been missed. Increased efforts for universal access to water and sanitation are vital as they have such an overarching effect on maternal health, child mortality rates, nutrition, and diarrhoea. 2.4 billion people are still using unimproved sanitation facilities, including 946 million people who are still practising open defecation. 147 countries met the drinking water target, 95 countries met the sanitation target, and 77 met both.
  8. Conflicts remain the biggest threat to human development. They are also the greatest obstacle to progress in achieving the MDGs, and likely will be for the SDGs as well. Fragile and conflict-affected countries typically have the highest poverty rates.
  9. Funding towards development has recently plateaued. It increased significantly in the first decade of the new millennium, but efforts will need to be strengthened and renewed to be firmly on track for the post-2015 agenda.
  10. Not all goals were met, but they were all successful. No matter what specific targets and indicators were originally set, the MDGs were ambitious and optimistic, just like the SDGs will be. But that doesn’t mean that they were unsuccessful or unrealistic; the MDGs served their purpose and reached goals that seemed nearly impossible 15 years ago. In the post-2015 development agenda, we should be equally ambitious and forward-thinking, but even more committed, in implementing the SDGs.

Click here to read the report in full.

Creating the Campaign for Community-led Development

2015-06 Workshop RebeccaOn the morning of Wednesday, June 24, the last day of InterAction Forum 2015, an excited and enthusiastic group of 50 NGO representatives participated in an Open Space workshop hosted by Catholic Relief Services, the Alliance to End Hunger and The Hunger Project.


  • Irene Amadu, Organizational Development Officer, Catholic Relief Services, Nigeria
  • John Coonrod, Executive Vice President, The Hunger Project
  • Kushal Neogy, Partnership and Capacity Strengthening Director, Catholic Relief Services, India
  • Rebecca Middleton, COO, Alliance to End Hunger (at left in photo above)

Short comments and reflections by the hosts preceded the group table discussions, to which the majority of the workshop was dedicated. During each of two rounds, each table of 10-12 was given post-its, markers, and a poster with four thematic boxes. Group members discussed their thoughts on each category in its relation to community-led development and from the very beginning, it was clear how diverse the crowd was and how everyone’s individual backgrounds made a big difference in how they approached each concept. Despite their differences, there were generally similarities and overarching themes within and across groups. This workshop focused on participation, rather than passive listening, which made it unique and very well-received by members attending the forum.

Session I: Define Community-led Development
Language: When considering what language should be employed, there was a focus on having an adaptable, flexible definition that acknowledges local knowledge and practices and respects the community’s structure. Additionally, it should identify and conflicts and interests clearly and openly, and most importantly, is welcoming to all groups.

Principles: Participants had an opportunity to become more creative in discussing the principles of community-led development they found most important. One of the most widely-agreed principles was the high level of attention given to local norms and cultural sensitivity, which leads to “local buy-in.” Another was the inclusion of all individuals, especially the marginalized, regardless of gender, education level, age, disability, or religious affiliation. More general, but equally important, principles discussed included decentralization, sustainability, trust and equity.

Evidence: There was a particularly lively debate among one group over organic vs non-organic change: which is more effective or is a mix of both the most efficient method? Common ideas were M&E evaluation, based on community data and statistics, with an additional clause that the community was to choose success indicators. The evidence should point to both a local and global impact and that it is sustainable beyond NGO and government engagement.

Practices: There were various ideas, with several highlighting again the importance of community structure, norms, and needs. Communities need to be given the tools necessary for decision-making and finding their own solutions, including proper training and broad, bottom-up participation. Practices should be characterized by humility and vulnerability, communication and cooperation, and mutual accountability.

Session II: Create the Campaign

After the first four elements above were presented by each group, everyone returned to the task for the second time, but this time, to discuss four different categories: Allies, Elements, Messages, and Tactics in community-led development.

Allies: Particularly in this session, the question commonly raised was what exactly defined communities in community-led development. Depending on their personal and professional backgrounds, it seemed many people defined it differently. However, when discussing what allies would be required in a campaign for community-led development, answers were fairly consistent: the communities themselves, religious and traditional leaders; institutions and universities; NGOs; the local and national government; the media; and even the donor agencies.

The elements of such a campaign would largely include money and resources, as well as a timeline and supporting data such as cost-benefit analyses and ROIs in preparation for arguments on the opposition. More qualitative elements would be the amount of willingness, motivation and interest within the campaign itself.

Messages: There were several variations of what messages the campaign should promote. It would have to communicate the benefits, successes and effectiveness to keep momentum, as well as specifying tangible and impactful goals. They should include narratives from the communities themselves and be multi-pronged to cater to different target audiences. What exactly do we need to do together to complete these goals?

Tactics: The final discussion varied from specific to general, from the sensitization and education of allies to general advocacy and policy. Additionally, content should be localized and involve a community dialogue. The use of media and social media, as well as enlisting certain champions and faith leaders, were also popular ideas.

Next steps: The hosts and leadership of other organizations will keep everyone informed, reach out to others, and will determine ways to formally establish the campaign and move it into action.