24 Feb 2015

'The new SDGs are just a smokescreen for Aid that benefits a few'


Sustainable Development Goals will be replacing the Millenium Development Goals at the end of 2015....but will the money used to deliver them actually deliver sustainable development?

On the 21st of February NAYD held its first Google hangout in 2015 which brought young people to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals that will shape the next phase of development in the Global South. The chat was overseen by Paul Shaw, NAYD’s team leader,  hosted by Judyannet Muchiri, NAYD’s social media editor  and had two guests Francis Maberi of Action/2015 and Santigie Dumbuya, NAYD Country Officer for Sierra Leone.

Does Africa need Aid?
The question of whether Africa needs Aid or not is one that is contentious. As most people will argue both guests agreed that Africa has the capacity to stand on its own but at the moment still does need Aid. What is important is to have systems and mechanisms in place that will ensure not just a few people benefit from the Aid and that it meets its intended target. These mechanisms are clearly lacking in most African countries; in fact most of these monetary funds in form of Aid are run in the Business As Usual Model which can’t provide fertile ground for the SDGs. Aid in the absence of proper mechanisms encourages corruption and misappropriation of funds which is why Aid hasn’t been that successful in Africa.

Did the MDGs make an impact in development in Africa?
The field of development since the 2000 has been guided by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the MDGs have made a lasting impression on development. Francis and Santigie agree that indeed women have had access to proper health care minimizing child mortality and improving maternal health, many schools have been built and through free primary school programs most children have enrolled in schools, more diseases have been controlled and measures put in place to prevent massive deaths from these diseases, people living with HIV/AIDS for example have easier access to ARVs. Therefore, though the MDGs had their own setbacks, a lot of meaningful strides have been made towards the right way. Further these MDGs form the basis of the current SDGs that will guide development after the year 2015.

Is SDGs another label for Aid?
The SDGs are a set of goals that will influence the process of development in the next years after 2015 and though they will definitely take place in the framework of Aid they are relevant and can’t be seen just as a smokescreen for ensuring there’s continued Aid in Africa.

How inclusive are the SDGs?
The SDGs are meant for all and they will exclude no one. They will ensure that everybody is involved in an effort to #LeaveNoOneBehind for a better future for everybody. The phase of development which was a preserve of a few in say international or national levels is gone and has been replaced with development processes that reaches to the people at the community level, the people who are experiencing the challenges at the community like insufficient water supply, improper health care, less schools among others. The fact that it is reaching out to the people at the community level means that there’s need for the people working at the community in Community Based Organizations to be involved and for a more open cooperation between NGOs at the national levels with these CBOs. The two guests having worked at the community level strongly expressed the need for this cooperation and mentorship of the small CBOs working at the grassroots.

Will the SDGs ensure development that benefits all?
After the MDGs, the SDGs are expected to go further in terms of reach and impact. Will this mean that everybody in the community will benefit? The guests felt that the SDGs will have a larger impact that is for sure and they will bring a lot of impact at the community especially if they prove to be inclusive as they are supposed to be.  However it was also expressed that although not everybody might benefit, everybody will sure feel the impact. The year 2015 will bring an impact to everybody due to the SDGs however small it maybe.

Who will fund the SDGs?
Francis stressed the need for the development actors both national and international to bring on board the private sector. Private investment is needed in the process of development seeing as some of these private corporations generate more money than actually comes in the country in Aid. For this to happen there must be a proper relation between the state and the private enterprises; rather than just seeing the private sector as a source of revenue the government should also ensure they provide an environment that will let the private enterprise thrive, with systems that work so that the private sector can also actively take part in development projects.

Has the AU played its role in the question of development in Africa?
The AU has done its part and continues to but it is up to the citizens to go beyond and perform their duty. Go to the community and localize the SDGs in collaboration with the civil society organizations.

What’s the practicality of self-sustaining Africa?
It is possible to have a self sustaining Africa as long as the challenges that hinder development are addressed. The process will not be easy and it will take a long time but it can be done. It will require rallying of efforts from people from all corners of the world; a global citizenship that will also be powered by social media and cooperation at the grassroots.

What are the main challenges to SDGs?
Lack of the necessary skills and human resource capacity
Inadequate tools to handle development projects
Corruption within institutions
Technological challenges
Unreliable internet connectivity in most African countries
Natural disasters and epidemics like Ebola
Poor disaster management systems or lack thereof

The following questions were asked by members and addressed by the speakers

UnyimeAbasi Essien - 'What's the place of Agenda 2063 in the SDGs?'

Innocent Kapwepwe - 'What's the probability of achieving the SDGs after failing the MDGs?'

The full hangout can be viewed at http://youtu.be/Ho0L4tood4s. As usual we had problems with connectivity but we hope, like us, you think the speakers gave great answers to the questions and lots of food for thought. 

Judyannet Muchiri and Paul Shaw