Statement delivered by Mr. Matthew Kahane, UNDP Resident Representative on the occasion of the launch of ‘Millennium Development Goals: District Progress Reports’ and `Voices of the People on Development’

28 Mar 2007

Statement delivered by Mr. Matthew Kahane, UNDP Resident Representative on the occasion of the launch of ‘Millennium Development Goals: District Progress Reports’ and `Voices of the People on Development’

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Honourable Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel,
Chief Secretary, Dr. Bhoj Raj Ghimire,
Respected government officials, Civil Society Members
Distinguished Guests, Colleagues from the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me a great pleasure to address this occasion— Launch of the Millennium Development Goals District Progress Reports prepared and published jointly by the National Planning Commission and UNDP and the report ‘Voices of the People on Development’ produced jointly by the National Planning Commission, UNICEF and UNDP.

This is indeed a major accomplishment— the MDG district reports are a basis to analyse whether the districts are really on track to meet the MDGs and what issues need to be addressed in each district.

UNDP is now engaged in the localisation of MDGs and institutionalisation of the Poverty Monitoring and Analysis System (PMAS). Reports have been produced for Bhaktapur, Morang, Chitwan, Banke and Kanchanpur districts. There has also been a Needs Assessment Report produced for Rupandehi
district.

The past Human Development Reports of Nepal have shown a wide disparity in the living conditions of the people in the far west and other parts of the country. The progress reports of the districts again show that a large variation is found in the level of poverty incidence which ranges from about 9 percent in Bhaktapur to as high as 36 percent in Kanchanpur district.

Nepal has been one of the first countries to produce Millennium Development Goals Progress Reports in 2002 and 2005. The last report launched ( 17 October 2006) on MDGs— Nepal Millennium Development Goals Needs Assessment Report 2006 shows that the Government must make a public investment of US$ 12.6 billion over the next decade if the Goals are to be reached. More than half that money must be channelled to reducing hunger, improving education and, critically, developing infrastructure. A poor transport network, lack of market access and limited electricity is hindering growth, especially in rural areas where most Nepalese live.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
The other book that we are launching today— ‘Voices of the People on Development’, I found, reveals the untold stories of the Nepali people in poverty. It shows that despite all the efforts made for inclusive and equitable development, the reality is quite shocking as manifested by several case studies and living examples of the poor and vulnerable including women, children, dalits and indigenous groups that constitute the Nepalese population. The major objective of the book is to produce a quick reference material for policy makers, civil society and development agencies including UN agencies, media and the general public. This should help them to understand the benefits, problems, challenges and issues regarding the status and achievements in the areas of the MDGs through the experiences and voices of the ordinary people.

The case studies conclude that poverty is the overarching problem that affects all other six goals— leaving goal 8 aside. It has been revealed in most of the case studies that because of poverty, children are made to work or even beg; infants and children do not get nutritious food; and women do not have access to essential health services. Some of the people featured in the book believe that their problems related to health, education and environmental protection could be solved if their income is increased and sustained. Thus, an adequate amount of sustainable income seems to be one of the options for their development. However, there are cases which reveal that income is only one option and is not an end in itself. This is evident from the case of Sadina who was physically abused and brutally tortured by her husband; the case of Khagendra who is HIV-infected because of lack of awareness and which is equally true for many unskilled labourers who return from foreign lands; the case of Lila whose child was ‘still-born’ despite all her efforts.

To conclude my remarks; human security has two interrelated components:
freedom from want and freedom from fear. In order to address the freedom from want, attaining the Millennium Development Goals is a must.

Therefore, a thorough monitoring of the MDGs both at the national and locallevel is a must. Mere tracking of MDGs will not serve the purpose unless there is monitoring at the local level. I hope these reports will enhance local level planning and implementation.

The country is going through a transition at the moment. After the current political issues are settled, the country will have less than ten years to attain the MDGs. Unless the country takes bold measures and adopts policies backed up with full commitment from all sides, it will be difficult to attain all the goals. Therefore it is vital for the development work to continue even during the current transition phase. There is a great need to respond faster to poor people’s needs, expose corruption, reduce absenteeism and decrease the unit costs of delivering services. The community contribution has been very active in education, health, drinking water and agriculture.

Lastly, I would like to thank the National Planning Commission, all the district stakeholders, district line agencies, representatives of political parties, media and the civil society for making it possible to produce such analytical reports. I hope that the reports will be taken forward to encourage fruitful debates, develop more awareness at the district and community level and to be able to address the issues.

Thank-you.