Wikiprogress Africa

This blog is written and maintained by the Wikiprogress Africa Network. This network, hosted by the OECD, aims to provide a platform for knowledge sharing on measuring progress and well-being in an African context.

Ce blog est administré et mis à jour par le réseau Wikiprogress Africa. Ce réseau, hébergé par l'OCDE, est une plateforme axée sur le partage de connaissances dans le domaine de la mesure du progrès et du bien-être des sociétés africaines.

mercredi 14 août 2013

Reflecting the Realities, Needs and Priorities in Monitoring Human and Social Development in Africa Beyond 2015

This blog, by Wikiprogress Africa Co-ordinator Ousmane Aly DIALLO, is part of the Wikiprogress Series on the Wikiprogress Africa Network and on the Post-2015. This post provides a summary of UNECA’s working paper on the Post-2015  “Working Document on the New Development Indicators Reflecting the Realities, Needs and Priorities in Monitoring Human and Social Development in Africa Beyond 2015” .

With the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals coming fast ahead, most of the stakeholders are already thinking on what needs to be done after 2015 and how the MDG framework can be improved.  As one of the continent most concerned about the challenges of poverty and the well-being of its citizens, Africa is still working on a framework that will encompass all aspects of human and social development. This Working Document on the New Development Indicators Reflecting the Realities, Needs and Priorities in Monitoring Human and Social Development in Africa Beyond 2015, is part of this process.

The limited and modest progress made by African countries towards the achievement of  the MDGs is problematic. Were all the countries on the same footing at the start? Were the goals ever meant to be monitored at the national level? Besides, it somewhat conceals disparities between the different social groups and subnational regions. Considering only the national scope hides from us local and regional inequalities that must be progressively eradicated. It is to be noted in particular that the results obtained from the overall indicators are distorted as they only relate to certain categories of the population.
Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in Africa

Inequalities and disparities within countries didn’t appear on the MDG framework which gave a distorted view of the reality. Social (ethnicities, castes) and regional (urban/rural) factors all had an impact of the social and human development of people but they weren’t necessarily captured with the national MDG progress ranking. Any new framework has to take into consideration these factors, and since the high-level panel of Eminent Persons has pledged that no one should be left behind, the African concerns are in concordance with the overall direction of the post-2015 framework.

Among the limits put forward, there’s the insufficient place given to the economy in the current MDG framework. The paper stresses the need to start from a strong and competitive economy to improve the well-being and quality of life of citizens through job creation and other targets. This vision is evident in the pyramid of “balanced development” below:

Besides this limit, there is the problem of the poor performance of Africa in regard to the Millennium Development Goals. Most of Sub-Saharan Africa is still lagging behind while the North of the continent is doing much better. This overall modest progress is attributed to several factors in this document, among other the very ambitious goals and the shortcomings in the budgetary policy choices and inefficiency in public expenditures. Despite these limits, the MDGs constitute a big step towards the well-being of people by setting different and complementary targets and pushing all states to achieve them by the end of  a specific date. With less than 1000 days remaining now, some are pushing for an extension of the MDGs while the majority suggest a slight adjustment or more radically a whole rethinking of the MDG framework.

UNECA’s African Centre for Statistics fall in the middle of this debate through their proposals for a new post-2015 framework. Indicators must be based on the development needs of countries according to the report which stresses that all African countries are working on their national development strategies and / or fight against poverty. Yet, there is insufficient convergence between African countries in the choice of indicators and that’s one of the main reasons of the indicators put forward in this document.

Development targets relevant to the African countries were thus identified and to monitor the progress into their achievements, they need to be classified depending on dimensions and the levels of government.

  • International stakeholders should deal only with a “very restrictive list of basic indicators that each country should monitor to ensure a decent living for the whole population”. Giving every citizen of the world a basic quality of life should be the aim and that was at the root of the MDGs before their expansion with uneven indicators. The current MDGs still remain relevant although some targets and indicators needs to be improved.
  • Secondary indicators that will speed up the transition to a pre-emergent stage (MDGs+) are to be monitored at the sub-regional and regional level. The current eight MDGs remain relevant as a whole but their associated targets and indicators should be better selected. Among the indicators, relevant to this level, are secondary, technical and higher education, infrastructure, macroeconomic framework, regional financial markets, regional integration policies, good governance, transfer of technology and development of internally generated knowledge.
  • Policies targeting growth and employment should be at the national level. Emergence indicators (MDGs ++) must be monitored by the states with efficient regional organizations such as ECOWAS providing backup and integrating these policies into their monitoring systems.

The different development goals were broken down into several dimensions:
  • Human dimension with indicators such as (a) access to knowledge by all; (b) gender development
  • Infrastructure dimension:  with universal access to potable water, sewerage facilities, electric­ity, ICT, housing and good transport system.
  •  Environmental dimension where the fight against pollution and the preservation of the biodi­versity can be included.
At the subregional and regional integration, an
  • Institutional dimension should be put forward with the strengthening of public institutions as  the indicator,
  • Economic dimension with  (a) a stable macroeconomic framework; (b) strong and regular growth; (c) capacity for diversification and transformation and a
  •  Social dimension with indicators such as  a) a well-fed population; (b) good health for all; (c) good social se­curity for all the vulnerable groups; (d) employment and income for all; (e) child protec­tion; (f) preservation and development of the cultural heritage.
To have a broader view of all the development indicators, please go to the annex of the document (click here).

The development indicators put forward constitute a significant contribution towards the post-2015 development framework. The scope of the indicators and the different levels of government involved in their monitoring are proof enough of the ambitions of its authors. Furthermore, they echo the HLP’s call to leave no one behind in the post-2015 framework. Economic growth occupies an integral place in this proposal although other quality of life dimensions are not neglected. 

There's a clear distinction on what should be of what should be monitored at the national level and how  the international level could stimulate the progress towards development.

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