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. 


  1. Thanks for linking to my post, Matt. I too hope see what will come from this. I have been lucky to have had some updates from Teddy during the build up and am excited about the possibility to get the conversation from the "ground" started.

    This is not quite a solution, but as you said the beginning of "plenty more initiatives that do not see people in poverty as mere 'beneficiaries' but as actors of change."

    Also, loving the blog. Keep it up.

  2. Matt, you know far better than I, but the question that most immediately comes to mind regarding the MDGs, is "Has enough emphasis been placed on HOW overcome the obstacles that exist and HOW to achieve the goals?"

    In my experience in business, when setting goals, the most critical aspects are HOW to achieve them and are those involved well enough equipped and/or trained to successfully tackle the goals.

    Good post though. As always!

    Cheers, Dad.

  3. Tom, thanks for the comment. Hopefully Teddy's event will be a real occasion for people on the ground to have a say and, if successful, can lead to events elsewhere. I'll continue to blog about the project my organisation is planning. Thanks for the encouraging words too.

  4. @Zephyr
    The HOW is a bog and complicated question when it comes to top down goals that have to be achieved locally. One of the big issues has been the extent to which countries have adapted the overarching goals and targets to their local reality - where that's been done countries have invested the means to make them achievable.

    One of the HOWs that has been missing to a great extent is how people living in poverty have had a stake in the process and that needs to be rectified between now and 2015, and beyond.

  5. Matt, thanks for the encouragement. It is nice to see that there are actual plans by the grassroots in preparation for post-2015. I look forward to hearing about what your project is planning. We will for sure let you know how our project fairs and what we've learned from it. I think we are all in it and are going to learn a great deal after this event!