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Africa needs to do more to reduce its inequalities if it is to optimize economic growth and see a substantial reduction in poverty, a report (2013) on its progress towards the attainment the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) states.
Jointly published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program, the report is titled Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals.
The MDGs are rooted in the Millennium Summit of September 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders in history. World leaders at the summit committed their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and set out a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015, that have since become known as the Millennium Development Goals.
The report says that despite impressive economic growth over the last decade, stark income, gender and rural-urban inequalities are holding back the continent’s progress.
It says more needs to be done to reduce inequalities on the continent.
“Without concerted efforts to reduce inequalities, growth will have only limited effects on poverty.
Policymakers must thus pursue inclusive growth strategies that promote broad participation of the active labor force while ensuring that the returns from growth are invested in programs that enhance the productive capacities of broad segments of society, particularly women, young people and the vulnerable,” the report states.
The report also warns against the dangers of climate change, saying the livelihoods of countless African households will be gravely endangered without efforts to improve resilience to environmental hazards, including those due to climate change.
“Climate-related shocks manifested by extreme weather conditions have destroyed livelihoods and exacerbated Africa’s food insecurity, resulting in a high incidence of underweight children, widespread hunger and poor dietary consumption patterns,” it says.
“Sustaining progress on the MDGs will require strengthening capacities to anticipate and respond to climate-related disasters and capitalizing on green growth opportunities. Without a doubt, Africa’s (especially the Sahel and the Horn of Africa) dependence on climate-sensitive sectors makes it more vulnerable than other regions to climate hazards.”
The report calls for more inclusive and transformative development that reduces poverty, creates decent jobs, enhances the quality of and access to social services, reduces inequality and promotes resilience to climate-related hazards.
“Achieving these objectives will invariably put Africa on a trajectory towards sustained and sustainable development,” it says.
It, however, cautions that the continent must ensure that the outcomes of its interventions are economically, socially and environmentally sustainability.
“Africa will regress on the MDGs unless efforts to improve access to social services are matched by measures to ensure that these services meet minimum quality standards” it says.
The report also calls for adequate and reliable financing to sustain momentum on the MDGs.