UN to focus on Africa’s slow progress on millennium goals

The United Nations (UN) and its agencies would use the 2010 World Cup to highlight Africa’s slow progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty by 2015, a senior UN official has said.

The UN was concerned that sub-Saharan countries were significantly behind schedule in realising some of the key development goals agreed to by more than 189 countries in Johannesburg in 2000, the under-secretary-general for communications and public information, Kiyo Akasaka, said on Friday in Johannesburg.

Africa was not alone in allowing the goals to slip out of reach, as internationally there was mixed progress .

Akasaka said the global financial crisis had brought new difficulties that threatened the global effort to halve extreme poverty, hunger, disease, maternal and child deaths and other ills defined by the goals.
He said the UN planned to release a song that was intended to resonate with soccer fans, such as Michael Jackson’s We Are The World.

But he was reluctant to give details, except to say that eight of Africa’s best-known singers were collaborating.

It would be distributed free and sung at stadiums before every World Cup game.

Akasaka, who is also visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo, said several communication strategies to keep the development goals on the world’s agenda over the next five years were being discussed.

SA hosting the World Cup had presented a perfect opportunity.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon has called on world leaders to attend a summit in September to boost efforts to achieve the development goals, saying “the summit will be a crucially important opportunity to redouble our efforts to meet the targets”.

Development assistance rose to record levels in 2008, but donors are falling short by 35bn a year on the pledge on annual aid flows made by the Group of Eight countries in Gleneagles in 2005 .

Source: www.businessday.co.za, 20100222

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