PRETORIA – A review of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in four southern African countries has been undertaken by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). As the target year of 2015 comes into sight there is increasing interest in, and concern over, whether these countries (Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa) will meet the minimum targets for social progress.
Among researchers in the field there is a wide range of opinions about the application of MDGs to the African context. While some feel that Africa is “being set up for failure” as the MDG targets are too ambitious, others feel that more progress is being made than anticipated as, in the case of maternal mortality, said Dr David Hemson, author of a study on the MDGs and a research director in the Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery programme at the HSRC.
To add to this, Hemson said, governments find it difficult to acknowledge complications in progress towards the targets. The differing views beg a common approach and methodology rather than more intense debate.
The HSRC has been conducting research in this field, with the purpose of producing a research brief to engage SADC and governments in research initiatives to support regional initiatives to spur interventions to bring the MDG to realisation in 2015.
This research brief captures key issues in improving the lives of people in southern Africa through implementing the MDGs in these four countries. The need for change (identified in progress towards key MDGs) is most urgent in southern Africa, but there are also the greatest opportunities for improvement. The intention of researchers in southern Africa producing the brief was to engage SADC and governments in research initiatives to support regional initiatives to spur interventions to bring the MDG to realisation in 2015.
Hemson said there is a mixture of hope and realism as the target date of 2015 approaches. If resources could be mobilised strategically in the region, much more progress could be made and the SADC instrument of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) is explored to this end.
The research brief concludes that in a number of targets the MDG are being approached but that the pace of change in others is too slow. In a minority of targets no progress is being made.
In her introductory remarks to the launch, CEO Dr Olive Shisana outlined the importance of closing the gap between policy and research. “It is imperative that policy is based on evidence, generated by research and the HSRC has a role in informing the South African government and it’s departments of policy implications as it relates to the research that we undertake.”
She said the Research Brief is the first of several engagements on the policy front as part of a policy brief initiative, where critical stakeholders will be involved in debating and discussion policy briefs base on some of the critical research that we are currently undertaking.
Note to editors:
The HSRC, in partnership with George Washington University is launching a set of policy and research briefs to highlight current research findings to the widest set of interested parties. This research brief, launched at a seminar in Pretoria on 14 February, is the first in the series and others will follow shortly.
This research brief speaks to:
• Policy-makers seeking feedback on progress towards MDG;
• Researchers and academics developing methodologies and research to measure progress; and
• SADC officials and constituents driving the regional plan for development.
Download and view the policy brief:
Ina van der Linde
Human Sciences Research Council
Tel : +27(0)123022024; Cell phone: +27(0)823310614