The Millennium Development Goals: where we stand today
In early June last year, Guyana was recognised as one of four countries in CARICOM for having met either the World Food Summit (WFS) targets and/or the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing the incidence and prevalence of hunger and poverty. This occurred at the 39th Session of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s Biennial Conference.
The award was accepted by Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder in Rome, Italy. There,d Guyana was acknowledged for meeting the more stringent World Food Summit (WFS) goal of reducing the absolute number of undernourished people between 1990-92 and 2010-2012, and halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
Here is a look at where Guyana is today regarding the MDGs as outlined by the UN.
MDG 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
In Guyana, this translates into proactive programmes to encourage more lucrative agricultural enterprises that would generate greater revenue streams and ensure food security.
Guyana has achieved private sector buy-in and entrepreneurs are contributing in larger numbers to the growth of non-traditional industries – beekeeping, craft production, fashion, cuisine art, music, Call centres and other ICT-related businesses, and a wide range of services. But there’s more to be done. It is believed that large scale companies could contribute more to on-site mentoring of new micro entrepreneurs, and integrate their operations by purchasing raw materials from local growers and processors.
MDG 2 – Achieve universal primary education
While a number of programmes are in the pipeline, this is being done through public and private sector support for continuous literacy programmes, for the resuscitation of community libraries, reading groups and after-school programmes.
MDG 3 – Promote gender equality & empowerment
Efforts towards achieving this MDG remain strong. For the time being work is being done through active support for female entrepreneurship, small business development in rural communities, by facilitating access to funding, and aggressively addressing the phenomenon of male under-achievement in the education system.
MDG 4 – Reduce child mortality
The pillars of this goal are embedded in the quality of the overall health care delivery system. The new government has the unenviable task of building the health care system up from the primary level, from the acquisition of authentic pharmaceuticals to re-training of health care delivery staff, and rebuilding the physical facilities at hospitals and medical centres including operating theatres, outpatient reception rooms, trauma centres, kitchens and nurses’ and doctors’ resting facilities for example, then establish mechanisms for sustaining clinical cleanliness in these environments.
Reduced child mortality also depends on widespread nutrition education, especially for new mothers while they are being encouraged to strictly adhere to their children’s MCH clinic schedules.
MDG 5 – Improve maternal health
Achievement of this goal depends on the factors outlined in MDG 4, in addition to continuous education and sensitization programmes for pregnant mothers. The avenues for delivering this information include the pre-natal clinics which the young expectant mothers must be encouraged to attend, their attending physicians, and even through community health workers and programmes run by community centres. The Education system has a significant role to play in this scenario by injecting into the secondary schools curricula a programme that teaches responsible reproductive health and choices to adolescents.
MDG 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria & other diseases
This is one goal that Guyana is well on the way to achieving. The USAID-funded National AIDS Programme Secretariat reported a few years ago that HIV/AIDS cases in Guyana has reduced to 1% of the total population in 2009–2010, complying with theUNAIDS target of 1.3%.
To date, HIV prevalence among women in Guyana has remained at 1%. People at high risk e.g. sex workers, are still disproportionately affected however, showing an HIV prevalence of approximately 16%.
Furthermore, Guyana is no longer listed as a High Prevalence Country. This achievement follows a full-bore five-year workplace sensitisation programme that was conducted separately by the CARICOM Secretariat, the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association and the Guyana Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS to stem stigma, to educate and inform, and to provide confidential access to treatment by those affected.
MDG 7 – Promote environmental sustainability
This programme has only just gotten underway, in earnest i.e. since the May 2015 inauguration of the newly elected APNU+AFC government. The subject of Environmental Management and Compliance with EPA regulations has been on the business radar for some years now, but with unenthusiastic acknowledgement and compliance.
However, the subject took up prominence in national discourses in recent weeks and there are concrete plans to boost environmental awareness through the formal education system. In addition to promoting green technologies and practices, the business community is being sensitized to the opportunities for new enterprises in waste disposal and renewable and alternative energy sources.
MDG 8 – Develop a global partnership for development.
The objective seeks to encourage the business community to commit to the MDGs and voluntarily create incentive schemes for workers’ initiatives to make more meaningful investments in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes by lending assistance, for example, to cleaning up and beautifying their host communities, to education or social protection initiatives.
Business owners may consider the benefits of promoting inclusive business models, e.g. creating in-country partnerships with small scale growers, processors and service providers and ultimately sharing their export markets.