Egypt’s Development Efforts Assessed
Cairo – This week, Egypt presented its report on the 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), entitled: Egypt’s Progress Towards Achieving the MDGs 2010 at the MDGs Review Summit convening at the United Nations General Assembly. The heads of State and Government, have gathered at the UN Headquarters in New York from 20 to 22 September 2010 to reaffirm their commitment to work together for a better world. With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend the summit to accelerate progress towards the MDGs.
At the summit, the Egyptian Government highlighted the fact that despite the negative effects of the economic crises and the subsequent decrease in the rate of assistance at the global level, Egypt has taken steady steps toward the achievement of the MDGs. Egypt’s message to the UN General Assembly also emphasized that adopting a multi-dimensional development approach, based on economic and social reform accompanied by political reform, remains essential for the achievement of the MDGs by 2015, where there is room for further work to achieve these goals in the next five years.
Among the achievements highlighted by the Report and which the Government delegation presented at the summit were Egypt’s:
- Implementation of an ambitious economic reform plan to deal effectively with the problems affecting the Egyptian society, based on the reform of the legislative and institutional structure to create an attractive environment for foreign investment.
- Upgrading the educational process through the development of national standards for education in accordance with international standards, and helping young people in integrating to the labour market.
- Establishing a new system of health insurance gradually widened to include all citizens, as well as upgrading medical services, which resulted in halving child mortality (MDG 4) by 73 %, and reducing maternal mortality (MDG 5) by 68%.
- Improving women’s participation in the political decision making, including introducing a constitutional amendment that allows the allocation of additional seats for women in the parliament.
This coming week, on the 29th of September, Cairo will host the local launch of the much-anticipated 2010 MDG Report for Egypt. Minister of Economic Development Osman Mohamed Osman, United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative James W. Rawley, and UNDP Country Director Mounir Tabet, in addition to the Report’s authors, will attend the launching event, which will include an open discussion with the press about the main findings of the Report.
The Report, produced by a number of independent multi-disciplinary contributors from among the nation’s finest experts headed by Lead Author Professor Hussein Abdel Aziz, with the support of UNDP and the Ministry of Economic Development, is the fifth in a series of periodic assessment reports for Egypt, serving as a follow-up to the MDG Reports prepared in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008, to provide evidence of progress and identify bottlenecks/gaps that require different policies and strategies to ensure the possibility of reaching the goals by the specified deadline.
Minister Osman says “The evidence documenting Egypt’s progress towards the timely achievement of the MDGs has become a driving force and a provider of guidance for actions to sustain such progress, ensure decent and healthier lives for all, and eliminate all the remaining challenges for the achievement of wider and more equal opportunities across all regions. However, these goals still represent the lower boundaries of what Egyptians are aspiring and are capable of reaching.”
Trends analysis for Egypt has shown that while Egypt has made impressive progress on each of the MDGs, it continues to face challenges with MDG 1 relating to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger and MDG 3 relating to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Moreover, regional disparities and gender inequalities continue to persist across governorates. Although Egypt has succeeded in establishing a quota system for women in Parliament, women in Egypt still lag behind on issues relating to education, economic empowerment, as well as the misuse of culture and tradition that impedes their progress. With respect to education, enrolment and literacy are improving, however, the growth in infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of students needs to be, matched by further investments to improve the quality of education.
The Report highlights that a more targeted approach needs to be deployed to accelerate MDG attainment by addressing key systemic bottlenecks and focusing on enhancing the quality of services. These bottlenecks include local capacities, sectoral governance, and slower than hoped for progress in decentralization, in addition to insufficient pro-poor resource allocations.
Mr. Mounir Tabet reiterates that “the 2010 milestone is an important one as it marks a critical opportunity for world leaders to assess progress towards the goals they have set for themselves to halve poverty and achieve the remainder of the MDGs by 2015. The Egypt 2010 MDG Report provides its own contribution to that assessment by offering a fresh, detailed update on the status of the MDGs, with an in depth analysis and policy recommendations pertaining to Egypt’s progress in achieving these global goals.”
The MDGs Review Summit convening at the United Nations General Assembly is expected to release an Outcome Document that emphasizes three points as being crucial for the achievement of the MDGs:
1. Targeted investments in key areas will have a significant multiplier effect on growth and prosperity and across all the MDGs. This includes providing access to energy; job rich growth and boosting agricultural production; expanding opportunities for women and girls; and investing in health and education services.
2. The MDGs are indeed achievable. Every effort must now be made to accelerate progress to achieve these goals through national action plans, policies and strategies that address barriers to progress. The UN remains a key partner in this global effort.
3. The role of national policies, domestic resources and development strategies cannot be overemphasized. However, since domestic economies are now interwoven with the global economic system, an effective use of trade and investment opportunities can help countries fight poverty. Development efforts at the national level need to be backed by an enabling international environment that supports national actions and strategies.
Ms. Nahla Zeitoun, Research and Policy Associate, UNDP Egypt Country Office at: email@example.com or 2578 4840-6