Governments around the world are making strides at achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Kofi Ahovi seeks to outlines Ghana’s progress so far.
At the end of the 20th century, governments around the world agreed on a set of common goals for developing countries, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals pave the way forward, from that period to the year 2015, to cut world poverty by half. With the accomplishment of these goals, billions of people can benefit from the global economy while tens of millions of lives can be saved.
The MDGs are eight sets of goals that respond to the world's main development challenges. The goals are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations-and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.
The eight MDGs break down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators. The goals are 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, 2: Achieve universal primary education, 3: Promote gender equality and empower women, 4: Reduce child mortality, 5: Improve maternal health, 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, 7: Ensure environmental sustainability and 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development.
The MDGs provide a framework for the entire UN system to work coherently together towards a common end. With the position of the record keeper for the MDGs, UNDP ensures that all interventions organized within the UN System aim to help countries achieve their MDG targets. UNDP's work on the MDGs focuses on campaigning and mobilization by supporting advocacy for the MDGs and working with partners to mobilize the commitments and capabilities of all sectors of society to build awareness on the MDGs; Researching and sharing best strategies for meeting the MDGs, in terms of innovative practices, policy and institutional reforms, means of policy implementation, and evaluation of financing options; Monitoring by helping countries report advancement towards the MDGs and track progress; and providing assistance to support governments to tailor MDGs to local circumstances and challenges; address key constraints to progress on the MDGs.
The Millennium Development Goals are time-bound and targeted they have a set beginning and end date, and they have set outcomes and achievements in order to tackle extreme poverty in its many dimensions: income poverty, hunger, disease, inadequate shelter, and exclusion. At the same time the goals have been created to promote gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are based on the rights of every person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security as pledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Millennium Declaration.
The Millennium Development Goals are the most broadly supported, comprehensive, and specific poverty reduction targets the world has ever established. For the international political system, they are the platform on which development policy is based. For the billion-plus people still living in extreme poverty, the Millennium Development goals are a life-and-death issue. These goals are the means to a healthy, productive life.
Compared with the year 2000, when the MDGs were inaugurated, more than 500 million people will be lifted out of extreme poverty. More than 300 million will no longer suffer from hunger. There will be dramatic progress in children’s health. Rather than dying before reaching their fifth birthdays, 30 million children will live. And the lives of 2 million mothers will be saved if the Goals are achieved.
Achieving the Goals will also mean 350 million more people will have safe drinking water and 650 million more people live with the benefits of basic sanitation, allowing them to lead healthier and more dignified lives. Hundreds of millions more women and girls will go to school, have access to economic and political opportunity, and have greater security and safety.
Behind these large numbers are the lives and hopes of people seeking new opportunities to end the burden of grinding poverty and to contribute to economic growth and renewal in their respective countries.
Ghana has had considerable experience with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are anchored and mainstreamed into successive medium term national development plans starting with the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS I) 2003-2005 then the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) 2006-2009, and recently Ghana Shared Growth Development 2010-1013, which is at the final stage of drafting. The progress towards meeting the MDGs is monitored on regular basis.
The progress towards achieving the MDGs in Ghana is mixed. MDGs 1 and 2 have made significant progress and Ghana is likely to attain them by the target year 2015. Goal 6 is potentially achievable; goals 3 and 7 are likely to be partially achieved; while goals 4 and 5 are unlikely to be achieved despite showing marginal improvements.
On Goal 1, Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Ghana is largely on track in achieving the MDG 1 target of reducing by half the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty. The overall poverty rate has declined substantially over the past two decades from 51.7% in 1991/92 to 28.5% in 2005/2006, indicating that the target could be achieved well ahead of the 2015 target of 26%. Similarly, the proportion of the population living below the extreme poverty line declined from 36.5% to 18.2% over the same period against the 2015 target of 19%.
Although current data on poverty is not available, trends in economic growth suggest a further decline in poverty between 2006 and 2008. High GDP growth rate (growing 5.1% between 2000 and 2006 and averaging 6.8% between 2007 and 2008), supported by increased foreign investment outlays, government development expenditures and debt relief accounted for the decline in poverty. The report however, notes that the high growth has not necessarily been consistent with improved human development indicators as the country continues to face challenges with health and other social services. In addition, disparities in regional and district poverty levels remain.
On child malnutrition, Ghana has made progress with respect to the prevalence of children suffering from wasting and stunting. The incidence of wasting has declined from a peak level of 11.4% in 1993 to 5.3% in 2008, while the occurrence of underweight has declined from about 31% in 1988 to 13.9% in 2008, thereby achieving the MDG 1, target 3 of reducing by half the proportion of children under-five who are underweight. Even though the proportion of children aged 0-35 months, suffering from stunting, reduced further from 29.9% in 2003 to 28% in 2008 after rising successively from 26% in 1993 to 30.5% in 1998, extra effort will required in order to achieve the national target of 15% by 2015.
Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
Ghana has made significant improvements particularly in the areas of basic school enrolment and the country is on track to achieving both the gross and net enrolment targets of 100% by 2015. At the kindergarten (KG) level, gross enrolment ratio (GER) has increased from 55.6% in 1991 to 89.9% in 2008, while at the Primary level GER has increased from 74% in 1991 to 95.20% in 2008. At the Junior High School level however, there has been marginal increase in GER from 70.2% in 1991 to 78.80% in 2008. The Upper West and Upper East Regions registered the most significant increase in the GER for the period 1998 to 2008, for primary level, while Ashanti and Volta regions recorded the least in improvements in GER over the same period.
Similar to the GER, the Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) recorded increases in the NER at the primary level and also across the country from 69.2% in 2005/06 and further to 83.7% in 2007/08. The case was, however, different at the Junior High School level with NER increasing from 52.4% in 2006/07 to only 53.4% in 2007/08 indicating a slow progress in relation to the 2015 target of 58.4%. Male NER has always been higher than the female NER at all levels. The NER in the deprived districts also increased from 74.51% in 2006/07 to 77.9% in 2007/08 at the primary level and 41.6% to 43.8% at the Junior High School level during the same period.
Despite the increasing GER and NER, survival/completion rate at the primary level declined from 83.2% in 2003/04 to 75.6% in 2005/06, even though it recovered to 88.0% in 2007/08. At the Junior High School (JHS) level, survival rate also declined from 86% in 2003/04 to 64.9% in 2006/07 but begun to increase to 67.7% in 2007/08. Survival rate among female pupils has been lower than the male pupils at both the primary and JHS levels. While survival rate increased from 85.1% in 2003/04 to 88.9% in 2007/08 among male pupils at the primary school level, it increased from 81.1% to only 82.4% among female pupils over the same period. At the JHS level, between 2003/2004 and 2007/2008, survival rate among male pupil declined from 88% to 72.4% in 2007/08 and from 83.7% to 62.9% in 2007/08 among the female pupil.
With Goal three, efforts have been made with respect to promoting gender equality and women empowerment. Trends show that Ghana is on track in achieving the targets of gender parity especially at the Primary and Junior High school (JHS) levels although primary level parity has stagnated at 0.96 since 2006/07, while the parity at the JHS increased slightly from 0.91 in 2006/07 to 0.92 in 2007/08. On the other hand the parity at the KG declined slightly from 0.99 in 2006/07 to 0.98 in 2007/08.
The progress towards increasing the number of women in public life suffered a setback with the reduction of the number of women elected into Parliament during the 2008 elections. The proportion of seats held by women in Parliament in 2009 was 8.7% (20). This was a drop from 10.9% (25) in 2006.
There has been significant reduction in both infant and under-five mortality rates with respect to Goal four. The under-five mortality rate declined from 111 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 80 per 1000 live births in 2008. However, Ghana is unlikely to meet the 2015 target of reducing the child mortality rates to 53 deaths per 1000 live births unless coverage of effective child survival interventions is increased. Infant mortality rate dropped from 64 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 50 per 1000 live births in 2008. Neonatal mortality rate also has seen a decrease from 43 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 30 per 1000 live births in 2008. The proportion of children aged 12-23 months who received measles vaccine increased from 83% in 2003 to 90% in 2008 showing an improvement of the coverage of one of the key child survival interventions (Ministry of Health (MOH), 2008 and GHS, 2003)
Goal 5: Maternal mortality rate as captured by both survey and institutional data has shown an improvement over the past 20 years. However, the pace has been slow. Between 1990 and 2005, maternal mortality rate reduced from 740 per 100,000 live births to 503 per 100,000 live births and then to 451 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008. This trend is also supported by institutional data which suggests that maternal deaths per 100,000 live births have declined from 224/100,000 in 2007 to 201/100,000 in 2008. This was after an increase from 187/100,000 in 2004 to 197/100,000 in 2006. If the current trends continue, maternal mortality will be reduced to only 340 per 100,000 by 2015 instead of the MDG target of 185 per 100,000 by 2015. Unless extreme efforts are made by all stakeholders, Ghana is unlikely to meet the target. 14% of deaths of women within the reproductive age are due to maternal causes and identified hemorrhage (24%) as the largest single cause of maternal deaths; abortion was the second single largest cause of death, accounting for 15%. Hypertensive disorders, Sepsis, and obstructed labour were also cited as causes of maternal death.
Antenatal care from health professional increased from 82% in 1988 to 95% in 2008. The proportion of women who receive two or more tetanus injections during last pregnancy increased from 50% in 2003 to 56% in 2008. Assistance by skilled providers during childbirth increased from 43% in 2003 to 59% in 2008 (GSS, 2009).
On Goal 6: The HIV prevalence rate slowed down after peaking at 3.6% in 2003. It then declined to 3.2% in 2006 and further dropped to 2.2% in 2008 but increased to 2.9% in 2009. Given this trend, Ghana has to sustain the efforts in order to meet the target of halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015. The report notes that females are the most infected accounting for 147,958 out of the 250,829 people infected. The prevalence rate is high amongst pregnant women. Annual deaths as a result of HIV/AIDS however dropped to 17,244 in 2008 from 18,396 in 2007, though females still account for the largest portion. The age groups 24-29 years also recorded the highest prevalence rate although this declined from 4.2% in 2006 to 3.0% in 2008. HIV prevalence rate is highest in the Eastern region recording 4.2% in 2008 as against 1.1% in the Northern region.
The use of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) increased successively from 3.5% in 2002 to a peak of 55.3% in 2007. However, the proportion of children under five years sleeping under ITNs declined significantly to 40.5% in 2008. Similarly, ITN use among pregnant women has been encouraging until 2008 where it declined drastically to 30.2% from a peak of 52.5% in 2007.
Ensuring Environmental Sustainability (Goal 7), Ghana is not on course to achieve MDG 7 in full. Even though Ghana is on track of achieving the target on halving the proportion without access to safe water, critical challenges exist in achieving the targets of reversing the loss of environmental resources, reducing the proportion of people without access to improved sanitation, and achieving significant improvement in the lives of people living in slum areas.
Ghana’s forest cover has declined from 32.7% to 24.2% between 1990 and 2005. In 1990, the forest cover was estimated at 7,448,000 hectares, and this has depleted at an average rate of 1.8%.
The proportion of Ghanaian population that uses improved drinking water has increased significantly from 56% in 1990 to 83.8% in 2008. The proportion of Ghanaians without access to improved water sources was thus reduced from 44% in 1990 to 16.2% in 2008. Ghana is therefore said to be on track in achieving the target of 22% ahead of 2015 target.
Even though national coverage for improved sanitation has increased from 4% in 1993 to 12.4% in 2008, reducing the proportion of the population without access to improved sanitation will reach 21.2% by 2015 instead of 52%, while the proportion of urban population with access to improved sanitation will be 23.4% instead of 55% by 2015. In the rural areas, only 20.6% would have access to improved sanitation instead of 50.5%.
In 1990, the total number of people living in slums in Ghana was estimated at 4.1million, and increased to 4.99 million in 2001 and then to 5.5 million people in 2008. In terms of its share of the total population, the proportion of people living in slums in Ghana has declined consistently from 27.2% in 1990 to about 19.6% in 2008. On the other hand, population with access to secure housing has stagnated at about 12% over the past five years. By 2020 only 6% would have access to secure housing will increase by only 6% by 2020.
In terms of Global Partnerships for development (Goal 8), many developed countries have not met the 0.7% GNP target for aid, but aid inflows to Ghana appear to have increased in nominal terms from US$578.96 million in 2001 to US$1,433.23 million in 2008. However, the current concerns, is the level of increases in real terms and the quality of the aid the country receives. In real terms, ODA inflows to Ghana has stagnated at about 8.7% of GDP between 2002 and 2008, after initial rise from 6% of GDP in 1999 to 15% of GDP in 2001. The portfolio of aid inflows continued to be dominated by project aid which constitutes more than 60% of ODA inflows. The negative effect of the domestic energy crisis in 2006, as well as the global financial, oil and food crisis, begun showing on the public debt position of Ghana. Ghana’s public debt as a percentage of GDP has increased from 41.4% in 2006 to 55.2% in 2008, thereby approaching the unsustainable levels.
UNDP is partnering with the Ghana Government to ensure that national priorities are linked with the Millennium Development Goals. The Growth Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II) is the medium term national strategy that guides Ghana’s efforts to reach the MDGs.
UNDP is supporting and building the capacity of the National Development Planning Commission in order to strengthen the GPRS II as the national framework to reach the MDGs and all national objectives.
UNDP is active in creating the platform for MDG promotion in Ghana. It has been working in selected districts to promote the localisation of the MDGs at the community level. To assist in monitoring Ghana’s progress towards the MDGs, UNDP supports the preparation and circulation of national MDG Reports.
Assessments made as a primary step in the programmes clearly showed the need to step up the campaign for MDGs in Ghana, in order to increase awareness levels among policy makers and the population.
UNDP, in close cooperation with other UN agencies, is therefore engaging in a major effort to develop a MDGs campaign in Ghana for advocacy and policy dialogue. More efforts will be put in collaborative action building on a UN system communication strategy.