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The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has reported that the country is meeting a number of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as charted by the United Nations (UN), to be met by countries around the world by the year 2015.
Dr. Pauline Knight, Director of the Social and Manpower Planning Division at the PIOJ said Jamaica has made significant strides insofar as addressing such MDGs as universal primary education for the country’s young people, and poverty reduction.
The Director was speaking at the launch of the UN Millennium Project Report and Jamaica’s first Millennium Development Goals progress report, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on Dominica Drive in New Kingston, yesterday (January 17).
The UN Millennium Project was commissioned by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan in 2002 to develop a concrete action plan for the world to reverse high incidences of poverty, disease and hunger affecting billions of people. The project was launched in Jamaica in 2003.
In relation to Jamaica’s handling of poverty, Mrs. Knight revealed that the country has successfully lowered the level of those living below the poverty line, moving from a 28.4 per cent in 1990 to 16.8 per cent in 2001. She classified Jamaica as being “on track” towards accomplishing its goal of alleviating extreme poverty.
She pointed out that inroads have also been made in the island moving towards universal primary education. Mrs. Knight explained that statistics have shown that enrolment for children at the primary school level improved from 95.6 per cent in 1990 to 96.2 per cent in 2001.
The Director said Jamaica was also “on track” towards achieving the goal of environmental sustainability as the number of persons without access to piped water fell over a 10-year period, from 38.8 per cent in 1990 to 29 per cent four years ago. Mrs. Knight added that although progress had been realised in the elimination of communicable diseases, such as malaria, there was still urgent need to tackle the goal of limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS in developing countries.
While improvements were cited in three goals, the PIOJ Director pointed out that the country had not attained achievements as noteworthy in other areas. She said shortfalls were experienced in the accomplishment of such goals as the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women; the reduction of child mortality; and the improvement of maternal health.
In his address, UN Resident Co-ordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representative, Juan Carlos Espinola said the UN Millennium Project report made recommendations, including one that governments of developing countries should adopt MDG-based poverty reduction strategies, bold enough to meet the targets for 2015.
“The MDG-based poverty reduction strategies should anchor the scaling up of public investments, capacity building, domestic resource mobilisation, and official development assistance,” he said.
Among the other recommendations made in the report are that high income countries increase their development assistance to poorer nations; and high income countries should open their markets to the exports of developing countries.
In light of the challenges that Jamaica faced in regard to education, HIV/AIDS, and crime and violence, Mr. Espinola said a unified approach was a necessity.
“This means therefore that we in Jamaica and the region will have to come together as government, civil society, regional institutions, and international partners, and seize the moment to make the great leap forward as suggested by the Millennium Project Report,” he said.
Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies in his remarks, said while Jamaica has yet to meet fully, all the millennium development goals, the country was currently on a positive economic path. He said that notable progress was made in Jamaica’s macro economic outlook.
He added that the collaborative multilateral approach, as highlighted by the Millennium Development Project, was a positive action.
“Even while we recognize the value of this international and co-ordinated mission, what is most important is that each country and Jamaica in particular, should seek to see how we can identify our priorities within this general framework and structure our responses to meet those priorities,” Dr. Davies said.