Report from MDG Countdown 2012 event

September 28, 2012

Posted by Jason Wright

U.S. Director of International HIV/AIDS Alliance

On September 26 in New York City, I had the pleasure of attending a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Countdown 2012 event co-hosted by new U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening and USAID Administrator Raj Shah.

The event celebrated the joint work of DFID and USAID to meet the eights MDGs.

I had the chance to speak with Secretary of State Greening and Administrator Shah (for whom I used to work at USAID) before the event.

BBC correspondent Laura Trevelyan was an excellent moderator.

Administrator Shah and Secretary Greening provided opening remarks.

He expressed pride that the U.S. Government is the largest donor in the world providing nearly a quarter of official development assistance (ODA). He stated:

This is an exciting and important time for development.  We’re beginning to see incredible results taking shape – results that aren’t just impacting individuals or communities, but entire nations.

At the same time as we celebrate our progress today, we also have the opportunity to look forward beyond the horizon of 2015 with renewed energy and commitment.

We have the opportunity to change the way we work in development to accelerate our efforts and realize the end-state goals we seek: an end to extreme poverty and preventable child death; a quality education for all children; and the rights of all citizens to fully participate in – and be protected by – their government.

These goals are as aspirational as they are achievable.

Secretary of State Greening noted that it is her first U.N. General Assembly meeting. She described the case studies to be highlighted at the event as examples of well targeted and innovative aid. She noted that the event had three themes:

- Fostering peace and security by meeting basic needs
- Creating health families through empowered women
- Building the bridge from poverty to economic progress

USAID highlighted case studies in Afghanistan (MDG 5), El Salvador (MDG 2), Indonesia (MDG 7), and Rwanda (MDG 3). USAID and DFID jointly showcased work in the Horn of Africa (MDG 8). DFID highlighted case studies in Bangladesh (MDG 1), India (MDG 4), and Zambia (MDG 6).

Administrator Shah stated:

… in Afghanistan – probably one of the hardest places on earth to see clear development results – we’ve helped reduce maternal mortality to one-fifth of what it was a decade ago and expand basic services from only 6 percent of the country to 64 percent.

… El Salvador has achieved 96 percent primary school completion rates for boys and girls – up from 81 percent 10 years ago.

… programs in Indonesia … have worked with local communities and all levels of government to deliver access to clean water to over 1.8 Indonesians and to leverage 60 cents on every dollar spent through public-private partnerships.

… a social enterprise in Bangladesh … is partnering with seven major companies – including Unilever and Lal Teer Seeds – to develop a rural sales-force of 3,000 poor women who provide hygiene, agricultural and nutritional products to the hardest to reach families.

… a single state in India [has] reduced infant mortality by 15 percent and increased skilled birth attendance by over 60 percent in just five years.

Lucy Mvula of the Alliance for Community Action in Zambia (Alliance Zambia) sat next to Secretary of State Greening and Administrator Shah and was the first presenter at the event.

She made an outstanding presentation on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

The Gates Foundation Impatient Optimist blog has published a summary of her presentation

After the presentation of the other case studies, U.N. Special Advisor on the Post-2015 Development Agenda Amina Mohammad provided reflections.

She cited her experience in Nigeria including with conditional cash transfers and discussed the interrelationship between people and the environment in the context of sustainable development.

She indicated that the U.N. High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda had had its first meeting the previous day and would submit its report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in May 2013.

Administrator Shan and Secretary of State Greening provided closing remarks.

He stressed local partnership and transparency and accountability and discussed the USAID Forward agenda.

She noted the commitment of the Coalition Government to the 0.7% target and stated that she thought that there had been “a huge amount of common sense spoken” at the event.

The event concluded with an inspiring video

Lucy and I spoke with Administrator Shah afterward. He commended her presentation and the work of the Alliance in general.

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