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» 18.03.2011 - Africa defies AU chief's support for Ghaddafi
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Africa to accelerate efforts to achieve development goals

afrol News, 20 October - Experts attending the inaugural meeting of the ECA Committee on Human & Social Development ended their meeting today with a commitment to scale up efforts to accelerate progress toward the achievement of the millennium development goals (MDGs) and the Plan of Action of International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Africa.

There is an urgency in light of the slow rate of progress of in social development in Africa, with just 5 years to the end date of ICPD and 6 years to the 2015 target date for the MDGs, the meeting noted.

“In order to achieve sustainable development, African countries should focus on social development issues that will not only complement economic growth but will also improve the lives of ordinary men, women and children across the continent,” the report to the Committee on Human and Social Development (CHSD) stated.

Speaking at the start of the meeting, Dr Monique Rakomotalala, director of UNECA’s African Centre for Gender and Social Development (ACGS) acknowledged there wasn’t enough time remaining to achieve all the MDGs by the target date of 2015. However, improvements could still be made, she said.

“I believe that we can make a difference in the time that is remaining by focusing on the correct social development priorities,” she said.

Some countries are reported to be on target to meet some of the MDGs. Alemayehu Gujo, state minister for the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, said his country was on course to meet its MDG in health - through the construction of new health care facilities and a widening health extension programme.

Substantial progress had also been made in efforts to improve the lives of women and girls - with increased school enrollment for girls and the expanded female health extension worker coverage. But, he said, the government recognised that the goal of unleashing the potential of the country’s women was not easy.

“While progress is being made, this is the most challenging of goals since it depends not only on the actions of government but also on changes in attitudes and cultural values which take time to evolve,” he said.

Some of the recommendations adopted include, strengthening the role and place of local communities in social service delivery, deepening understanding of the social and cultural factors that hamper progress on reducing maternal mortality, using a human rights approach, and exercising strong leadership by member states to manager social development institutions.

The committee also approved the programme of activities on social and human development for UNECA for the coming two years. Some of these activities include development of an African Youth Report, a training manual on MDG-consistent poverty reduction strategies, ad-hoc expert group meetings, fellowship and grants to visiting scholars and interns and field projects on addressing maternal mortality.

The meeting was sponsored by the UN's Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The CHSD was set up as a statutory body to provide policy guidance to UNECA on its programme of social and human development. The Monday meeting was an opportunity for the committee to elect members as well as agree a way forward for UNECA’s work on these issues.

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