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Lancet. 2007 Sep 22; 370(9592):1034.The association between domestic violence and the first five Millennium Development Goals is bidirectional. Violence has a negative effect on efforts to alleviate poverty (MDG 1), and poverty has been shown to increase the likelihood of violence. Similarly, education, women's empowerment, child mortality, and maternal health are all linked to domestic violence. Simwaka and colleagues discussed the association between women's empowerment and violence against women and poor access and control over resources, and recommended putting gender issues in the African agenda to achieve MDG 5. Hence, monitoring the progress in preventing violence should not be separated from monitoring the development process in developing countries. Other challenges such as discrimination, inequity, extremism, religious fanaticism, human rights violations, and the faded democracy process have hampered efforts to combat violence in these countries. Ammar stated that "Egypt would be able to combat public violence (eg, terrorism) better if it addresses co-occurrence of spousal and child abuse than by changing its school curriculum". Moreover, we will not be able to estimate properly the magnitude of domestic violence if its economic costs are not investigated. Therefore, the growing political will to take action against violence is not enough in itself, especially when women feel that spousal abuse is justified and when judges and lawyers are part of a culture that tolerates violence against women. (full text)
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa: a macroeconomic monitoring framework.
World Economy. 2006; 29(11):1519-1547.3,000 Africans die every day of a mosquito bite. Can you think about that, malaria? That's not acceptable in the 21st century and we can stop it. And water-borne illnesses - dirty water takes another 3,000 lives - children, mothers, sisters . . . If we're to take this issue seriously, and we must, because in 50 years, you know, when they [G-8 Heads of State] look back at this moment . . . they'll talk about what we did or didn't do about this continent bursting into flames. It is the most extraordinary thing to watch people dying three in a bed, two on top and one underneath, as I have seen in Lilongwe, Malawi. I mean, it is an astonishing thing. And it's avoidable. It's an avoidable catastrophe. You saw what happened with the tsunami. You see the outpouring, you see the dramatic pictures. Well, there's a tsunami happening every month in Africa, but it's an avoidable catastrophe. It is not a natural calamity. (author's)
Are cost effective interventions enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals? Money, infrastructure, and information are also vital [editorial]
BMJ. British Medical Journal. 2005 Nov 12; 331(7525):1093-1094.At a high level forum in Paris this month policy makers are meeting to discuss the financial sustainability and coordination of activities essential for achieving the millennium development goals. Building on other targets set in the 1990s, such as those at the 1990 UN children’s summit, these ambitious goals agreed by 189 countries aim to markedly reduce poverty and hunger and improve education and health throughout the world by 2015. But many less developed countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, are falling short of the target to reduce child mortality by 4.4% a year, the rate required to cut deaths among children less than 5 years old by two thirds (from the 1990 level) by 2015. (excerpt)
Development in Practice. 2004 Jun; 14(4):569-573.Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) are needed by all development interventions in order to document their output and outcomes. Once a set of goals has been established in response to a development ‘problem’, a corresponding set of indicators (i.e. variables or information) will also be identified in order to review progress towards those goals. In Africa, the so-called ‘expert’ evaluators—those who see M&E as their professional calling—have dominated the process of selecting social indicators. Unfortunately, this domination has given rise to sporadic and unreliable social data for M&E purposes facing every agency involved in development work in Africa. Zimbabwe is no exception. This Practical Note tells the story of UNICEF Zimbabwe’s search for relevant and reliable indicators based on solid data. The guiding philosophy in this effort is the belief that local communities themselves are among the many agencies involved in implementing development programmes—in the sense that they always seek ways of tackling whatever problems they face. These communities must therefore be active participants in the process of selecting indicators. The paper will first discuss the difficulty in establishing relevant data and indicators in the context of Zimbabwe, a task which is now an urgent priority given the dual problems of HIV/ AIDS and a declining economy. It is generally believed that these two problems have been responsible for the reversal of social gains made immediately after independence—hence the need to know exactly what is going on. The paper will then highlight recent attempts by UNICEF Zimbabwe—together with its partners—to establish good and reliable information sources so that not only can it monitor and evaluate the various impacts of its programmes but also the social environment of children. In part, the pressure for community-generated indicators has also been driven by the shift in UNICEF’s approach to its work—an approach underpinned by human rights principles. The final part of the paper discusses the challenges that UNICEF and its partners have faced and continue to struggle with. It draws some lessons learned and points to what more could be done to improve the qualities of social indicators. (excerpt)