In September 2000, 189 heads of state and governments gathered at the United Nations in New York at the Millennium Summit and adopted what became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Targets. A set of time-bound goals, the MDGs are an embodiment of wider human concerns and issues - they are "people-centred" and measure human progress.
The MDGs are intended to engender national initiatives and strategies geared towards alleviating poverty and improving the standard of living of the poorest of the poor across the globe.
Following the global MDGs Summit held from 20-22 September 2010 at the United Nations, in New York; this factsheet presents a trend analysis by the UN system in Zambia on progress towards the MDGs, and proposes some key policy and institutional perspectives.
MDG 1: Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
Extreme poverty declined from 58% in 1991 to 51% in 2006 (LCMS), improving towards the target of 29%. However, extreme poverty is still higher in rural areas at 67% compared to 20% in urban areas (LCMS). On the target to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, the prevalence of underweight children declined from 22% in 1991 to 14.6% in 2007 (MDGR), while the target is 11%. Economic growth is essential but not sufficient for the achievement of this goal. Macro-economic and structural policies that promote employment, economic inclusion, empowerment and social investment are essential. Some key policy and investment choices that can accelerate the achievement of the targets include: competitive food pricing and diversification and marketing of maize and other agricultural produce; community and women’s ownership of arable land; an institutionalized social security system to protect the poorest and most vulnerable populations; further investments in farmer extension services and business skills to support job creation; and sustainable cropping patterns to trigger continued growth in the rural economy.
MDG 2: Achieving universal primary education
Net enrollment of children in primary education has increased from 80% in 1990 (MDGR) to 101.4% in 2009 (APR), supported by the increased construction of schools, the removal of school fees in 2002, and Free Basic Education and Re-entry Policies. Such policies also favored an increase of 29 percentage points in primary school completion rates, from 64% in 1990 (MDGR) to 93.2% in 2009 (APR). The primary education target is thus attainable, as the objective is 100%. The main challenges at present are adult literacy, which declined from 79% in 1990 to 70% in 2004 (MDGR), and the 17.4% completion rate of girls in secondary school in 2009 (MOESB). The emphasis needs to be on making education compulsory from grades 1 to 7, achieving higher completion rates for girls in secondary education, and improving the quality of education, including through more enforceable incentives-cum-performance measures for teachers and school administration.
MDG 3: Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women
With regards to education, the gender parity index for primary education improved from 0.90 in 1990 (MDGR) to 1.01 in 2009 (APR), although in secondary school it decreased from 0.92 in 1990 (MDGR) to 0.87 in 2009 (MOESB), and for 15-24 years old it stagnated at 0.8 from 2003 to 2005 (MDGR). On women’s representation in parliament, with 14% Zambia remains low relative to the target of 30%, despite the increase experienced from 3.8% in 1991 (MDGR). As customary law allows for early marriage, young girls are often confronted with teenage pregnancy, HIV and domestic abuse hindering progress towards this MDG. Enforceable civil laws to curb these behaviors are of highest priority, together with investments in female education and representational leadership, access to financing, entrepreneurship and asset ownership. Gender equality and women empowerment are essential to overcome poverty and existing disparities.
MDG 4: Reducing child mortality
The number of under-five deaths dropped from 191 per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 119 per 1,000 live births in 2007 (ZDHS). However, the target is 64 by 2015 so further efforts are necessary. Infant mortality has also shown a declining trend, falling from 107 per 1,000 live births in 1992 to 70 per 1,000 live births in 2007 (ZDHS). Similarly, additional action is necessary to reach the target of 36 by 2015. Interventions that increase access to skilled birth attendance during delivery and ensure that mothers’ education and nutrition standards are met, can assist in addressing common causes of neonatal mortality. Continued and effective child immunization, scaling up interventions for prevention and management of common childhood illnesses, promoting and supporting appropriate breast feeding, and infant and young child feeding practices will be necessary for the country to reach this goal.
MDG 5: Improving maternal health
To achieve this goal Zambia needs to reduce the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy, which decreased from 649 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1996 to 591 in 2007 (ZDHS). The target is 162 in 2015. The main success factor is the presence of trained midwives at births. Of all births in Zambia in 2007, 46.5% were assisted by a skilled health worker. It was 50.5% in 1992 (ZDHS). The necessary investment in terms of training, oversight and incentives for midwives should be provided in conjunction with improved access to and monitoring of rural health posts, and curbing unsafe birthing practices.