Millennium Development Goals – Belize’s successes and failures
Saturday, May 7th, 2016
In the year 2000, 147 world leaders converged at the United Nations to sign the Millennium Declaration. Belize was part of this signing, adopting eight goals aimed at making life better for all Belizeans. The goals were to be accomplished by the end of 2015, focusing on developing areas like health, education, economic growth, poverty alleviation and gender equality. After 15 years, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report stated that Belize made great progress, however, it failed to reduce the nation’s poverty level.
The MDG report stated that despite the gains in education enrolment, Belize still did not utilize its domestic capacity effectively to significantly grow its economy. “Poverty in Belize is increasingly geography-specific, gendered and generational. Belize’s real economic growth, which has consistently exceeded regional averages, has not necessarily translated into tangible reduction in the poverty levels,” pointed out the MDG official report.
The eradication of extreme poverty and hunger was the main goal Belize was committed to accomplish. This MDG was aimed to halve of the number of people earning less than $2 a day. The other half was targeted at the unemployed and those suffering from chronic hunger. The goal was basically to generate opportunities for Belizeans in order for them to earn and generate income to meet their basic food needs. However, the country was said to be off-target in meeting this first outlined goal.
Despite a bad start in the accomplishments of goals, Belize had better results in the ‘achievement of universal education’, and ‘gender equality and the empowerment of women’ in Belize. This last goal eliminated gender disparity in primary, secondary and tertiary education level.
When it comes to the fourth MDG, ‘Reduce Child Mortality,’ Belize was able to meet this goal satisfactorily, lowering the under-five and infant mortality rate by 2/3. The fifth goal, which was the ‘Improvement of Maternal Health’, was another accomplishment, recording a 50% reduction in the maternal mortality rate, with an unfortunate eight deaths in 2015. This means that pregnant women were assisted and cared for by skilled personnel throughout their pregnancy and during child birth. Consequently, the sixth goal ‘Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and other diseases,’ was also met satisfactorily. According to Dr. Ramon Figueroa from the Ministry of Health, over 90% of children are immunized against measles and other diseases. Furthermore, a reverse in the spread of HIV/AIDS was reported in the past years.
In regards to ‘Ensuring Environmental Sustainability,’ the report pointed out that in Belize, deforestation is one of the lowest in the region, and it noted that this is a “critical milestone” to maintain national biodiversity. In addition, the report stated that Belize was able to integrate the principles of sustainable development into the country’s policies and programs. Keeping in mind that most of the Belizeans livelihood and security depends on the environment.
‘Global Partnership for Development’ was the eighth and last Millennium Development Goal in Belize’s to do list for the betterment of all Belizeans. In outlining the progress Belize made in achieving this goal, the report noted that in dealing with its debt problems, the efforts done in the super-bond restructuring improved the debt profile for Belize. There was an improvement in technology; however it was pointed out a lack of availability of such technologies in the Toledo District and in the rural areas.
Overall Belize’s performance in meeting the MDG’s was very progressive, yielding good results for most of its goals. However, the high poverty and crime level in the country negatively affected the prospects of achieving most of the goals.
As the 15 years to accomplish such goals recently expired, a new set of goals were brought in by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Belize. A total of seventeen goals dubbed ‘Sustainable Development Goals,’ (SDG) are also expected to aid in the expansion of the previous eight Millennium Development Goals. The discussion on Belize’s push towards the SDG’s is already underway with a clear path for its accomplishments due in 2030.
Karen Bernard, Deputy Resident Representative UNDP, claims Belize has a great potential to excel in the upcoming set of goals. According to her, the new goals will require harder work as it is a bigger project. Those seventeen SDG’s will incorporate the eight previously set out and will focus on peace, justice, strong institutions, sustainability, climate action and gender equality.
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