Countdown to the Millennium Development Goals Summit

By Craig Fagan and Jesse Garcia

Five years, 127 days, eight hours and 40 minutes. That is the time left until the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved (at least as I type this – http://www.mdgmonitor.org). And in a much smaller amount of time – one month – world leaders will be gathering at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York to discuss how progress can be ratcheted-up to achieve them.

As part of the flurry of run-up activities to the summit on 20-22 September, the UN Millennium Campaign has released a public service announcement encouraging people to raise their voices and demand ‘break-through action plans’ from their governments to turn around the current disappointing situation with progress far off-track, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

We posted in late June, “Why the MDG action plan needs an anti-corruption agenda”, laying out the critical need for addressing corruption if the Goals are to be met by 2015.

Transparency International will be releasing a report ahead of the summit that offers clear evidence for how corruption has proven a major obstacle for countries and regions in reaching the MDGs.

Findings from a seven country study by Transparency International in Africa — in Ghana, Madagascar, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda — showed that 44 per cent of the parents surveyed had paid illegal fees for schools that, by law, were actually free for their children.

In India, surveys done by the TI national chapter has shown that poor people pay over US$ 200 million annually in bribes to access eleven ‘free’ services, including the police, hospitals, schools and employment benefits.

Research conducted by Transparency International on more than 48 countries demonstrates the clear, strong and positive correlation between better MDG outcomes and greater transparency, accountability and integrity – a ‘MDG-payoff’.

These principles need to form the core of any MDG action plan. This is a task for donors, governments, parliamentarians and civil society to take on. The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) provides the right framework to make this change as it lays out common, global standards for anti-corruption legislation and regulation.

With 1.4 billion people still living on less that a Euro a day, 60 million children out of school, and 1 billion people still without access to clean water the time for action is now!

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