Photo: Gizmodo

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Time for people living in poverty to have a voice on the MDGs

Two interesting blog posts drew my attention the last couple of days. Firstly from the Guardian's Poverty Matter blog is an article on the need for a new set of MDGs that apply to all countries. I couldn't agree more with the view that, "The MDGs development targets (MDGs 1-7) apply only to "developing countries", leaving the entirely false implication that "developed countries" no longer have anything to improve on. Next time we draw up some global targets, all countries should be treated the same, all with targets to meet at home, and all with a responsibility to offer help and solidarity abroad."

ATD Fourth World has long argued the same point and is in the process of drawing up a project that will give people living in the most extreme poverty in "developing countries" the chance to have their say on the impact the Goals have had on their lives to date. The project will also include people living in long-term poverty in Europe and North America their opportunity to have a say on what poverty eradication targets have meant to them (the EU for example set a target in 2000 to make a decisive impact on poverty). The project also aims to enable people living in poverty to point the way forward so that the successor to the MDGs post-2015 has more success in reaching those experiencing the severest poverty. 

Whilst working on this project proposal today, I came across a blog post that publicised a Village in Action Conference that seeks to build a platform for villages to be heard in order to,"Contribute not only our voices to the discussion, but to also showcase what we are already doing to advance our own communities."  The first Conference will take place in Uganda on 27 November. This initiative came about due to frustration that debate on the MDGs, particularly during the September summit, is devoid of the voice of those who stand lost to gain from them.

I look forward to reading what the people from this Ugandan village have to say about what they are doing to achieve the MDGs. Between now and 2015, we will need plenty more initiatives that do not see people in poverty as mere "beneficiaries" but actors of change whose knowledge cannot go untapped if we want to make that decisive impact on extreme poverty in all countries in the world.