Ethiopia Shows Progress to Meet the Targets but Lagging Behind on Gender Equality and Maternal Health
The latest report assessing Ethiopia’s progress towards Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is released Thursday in Addis Abeba at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The MDG progress reports have in the past been used as a strong advocacy tool to accelerate progress and highlight key challenges in the country’s bid to meet the 2015 deadline.
The report notes that Ethiopia has recorded strong progress in reducing poverty and eradicating hunger since the introduction of the introduction of the MDGs 15 years ago. The country has achieved the MDG target on the reduction of child mortality by two-thirds three years ahead of the deadline. Another target attained ahead of time is on access to safe drinking water. Prevalence of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis has also been reduced.
However, while Ethiopia transitions from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals in a stronger development position than it was in the late 90s, the country still faces a number of challenges and unfinished MDG business, the report concedes.
Over 20 million people still live in absolute poverty and urban unemployment remains high and 40% of children under five are stunted due to malnutrition. Enhancing resilience to shocks also remains crucial to ensuring that Ethiopia is able to reduce poverty and embark on a sustainable development path. In terms of education, the progress registered in enhancing high primary school enrollment is marred with decline in quality and high dropout rates.
Despite the decline in the level of poverty the country has managed to attain, there are about 22.6 million poor people in 2013/14 who are living under the poverty line (which is very close to PPP US$1.25 a day on food and non-food items) and who are unable to satisfy their basic needs maintains the report. Besides, the severity of poverty increased between 2005 and 2011. Therefore, reducing poverty among the poorest of the poor, ensuring food security and reducing the number of poor people in the country remain priority areas for intervention in the post-MDGs period.
The target of achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people, is also on track, but with a significant gender disparity.
The country lags behind on MDG 3 which focuses on promoting gender equality and empowerment of women. This is mostly attributed to persistence of early marriage, violence against girls, low level of parent awareness on benefits of education and unfair household chore burdens on girls.
Improving maternal health, as stated by MDG 5 is yet another area the country is unlikely to meet.Despite the increase in the number of health facilities, limited availability to medical utilities at these health posts and low skill level of the health extension workers continues to be a stumbling block to Ethiopia’s efforts at sustainably scaling up its efforts in the health sector.
Improved availability of data is crucial for sound analysis and decision making. Thus the report underlines the crucial importance of investing in reliable and timely data to ensure strong monitoring of the new Sustainable Development Goals as Ethiopia embarks on the implementation of GTP II.
Emphasis has been laid by the report on the need to scale up partnerships among government United Nations and development partners, civil society and the private sector in Ethiopia to complete the unfinished MDGs business and effectively rollout the SDGs in Ethiopia to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable human development.
“While disparities have been narrowing across range of social and economic services we have unfortunately seen that progresses on the MDGs has not been uniform. There are variations between regions, between urban and rural, and between sexes.” saidGeorge Okutho UN Resident Coordinator for Ethiopiaspeaking at the launch of the report.“As Ethiopia embarks on the implementation of GTP II and Agenda 2030, the important lessons learnt in the MDGs must be digested and good practices replicated and even scaled up in the SDGs rollout process.”