The role of the World Bank strives to back up investments in education, health, infrastructure, agriculture, environmental, and other issues. Concerning the MDGs, the World Bank helps co-finance some “goals” with private sector investments governments, multilateral institutions, as well as commercial banks. On their website the World Bank says that they are “committed to helping achieve the MDGs because, simply put, these goals are our goals”.
The International Monetary Fund is another player in the world’s economy and country development around the world. The goal of the IMF is “to help countries restore macroeconomic stability by rebuilding their international reserves, stabilizing their currencies, and paying for imports “The IMF is in charge of economic and financial policies of the countries that are members of the IMF and that it oversees. It is accountable for economic developments on national, regional, and global level and keeps track of economic development. Another function that the IMF serves is lending; IMF gives loans to countries who cannot afford certain payments. The IMF is also responsible for overseeing the international monetary system.
There are two main criticisms that I have seen against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The first is that the countries that hold the most power and clout in both of these organizations are mostly developed, western countries. Often these countries are making fiscal decisions about underdeveloped non-western countries, and it is sometimes seems as a version of post-colonialism. This leads into the other criticism of these two financial international institutions: the “conditionalities” imposed on borrower countries by these institutions (again often western developed countries) are too heavy and out of touch with the reality of the countries. Basically money is lent, like many loans on a conditional basis, and a repayment plan. Many, like Jeffery Sachs, believe that often IMF’s resolution of “belt-tightening” is out of touch with countries were many citizens are “much too poor to own belts” (73).
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most, if not the most, underdeveloped region in the world. Some of the issues that plague Sub-Saharan Africa are food shortages, environment issues, and illness (including AIDs and Malaria). Concerning the Millennium Development Goals Sub-Saharan Africa is the region that has the hardest time meeting the 8 MDGs, perhaps because they started off in a worse place than other regions of the world. The MDGs are broad and cannot be taken directly as targets for each individual countries. Individual countries should do their best to adapt the goals to their current reality and culture context. Countries should also identify the most crucial problems that face them, and work at focusing on and addressing those problems first. By focusing on the most critical problems first, instead of trying fix everything at once a country won’t spread itself too thin. Also by addressing major, critical issues first a country might find that smaller problems are just side effects of the bigger issue and are resolved when the bigger problem is addressed.
Social Spending means the amount of money spent on social (social welfare) programs by a government body. Social spending is important because it shows how much money a government invests or sets aside for social programs internally (OECD). Social Spending in Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly important because many countries in the region are severely underdeveloped and the need for social spending in the areas of health, education, and environmental issues in Sub-Saharan Africa are critical.
I will use Kenya as an example for a sub-Saharan African country that has to adapt the MDGs to their own reality In Kenya. According to the UNDP website the Millennium Development Goals that Kenya is focused the most on are poverty reduction, empowerment of women, and environmental conservation.
-Kenya’s population is 40 million
-Kenya’s poverty rate is nearly half, at 45.5%
-Kenya’s Human Development Index is 0.54
-The Life Expectancy is 62 years.
The reason that I believe that Kenya is addressing issues of poverty reduction and empowerment of women is because nearly half the country lives in poverty, and women are more likely to live at home and live in poverty. Empowering women is a mechanism in which Kenya can address the MDGs and help lift the country out of poverty.
The article Road to 2015 advocates for developing countries to, “require policy reforms, increased aid and trade access, and sustainable support from international financial institutions,” as the way for MDGs to stay on the right path despite economic and financial crises. Even in the face of economic and financial crises the article Road to 2015 says that Sub-Saharan Africa has overall been relatively successful, thanks to “strong economic and policy positions, and developing countries as a whole… and are recovering better than expected” Despite the lack in foreign aid the author argues that the international community and financial institutions “need to do more to help developing countries regain their momentum in achieving the MDGs” in the midst of economic and financial crises.
The success of Sub-Saharan Africa as a region is measured by human development indicators used by the World Bank these include: “size of economy, population dynamics, labor force, structures, employment by economic activity, decent work and productive employment, children at work, unemployment, poverty rates at National poverty lines, poverty rates at international poverty lines, assessing vulnerability and security, participation in education, distribution of income or consumption, education completion and outcomes”
The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Oxfam has several concerns about the likelihood of reaching the MDGs. The main points of their criticism are in education and health issues. Oxfam critiques the MDGs on education because there are still 75 million children who don’t have access to education or are illiterate. The health issue that Oxfam critiques is that there is still a significant amount of people still contracting HIV/AIDS and malaria, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Oxfam’s website says that half the world’s population is still at risk of contracting malaria mainly because of a lack of funds for malaria prevention, and that there is limited to no money to buy supplies to contain/treat malaria. So what is Oxfam doing about these issues? Oxfam is working to combat HIV/AIDS through petitioning government and the drug industry for cheaper, accessible, and more developed medicines being made and distributed for countries that have citizens disproportionately suffering from HIV/AIDS
Sachs, Jeffrey. The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. New York: Penguin, 2005. Print.