Helen Clark: Speech on the occasion of the Launch of the MDG Acceleration Plan of Action, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and African Integration Conference Hall

16 Sep 2013

**Check against Delivery**
Speech by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator on the occasion of the Launch of the MDG Acceleration Plan of Action, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and African Integration Conference Hall

N’djamena, Chad, 2pm

It is my pleasure and privilege to be with you here in N’djamena to help launch Chad’s MDG Acceleration Plan of Action in the presence of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Agriculture and other senior leaders. In seeking to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal, the Action Plan takes aim at hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. It is the result of the leadership, determination, and hard work of many of you here to use the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) and bring urgency to efforts to overcome Chad’s development challenges. In my comments today I will speak about the importance of MDG acceleration, placing it in the context of the President’s emerging Vision 2025, the National Development Plan, the New Deal for Fragile States, and the debate on the Post-2015 development agenda.

The determination of leaders is critical for MDG success. I was struck by the old saying cited by the President of Chad, that “a hungry man is not a free man”. This simple truth can inspire us all to work to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in this country.

Behind all the successful campaigns to achieve the MDGs is a wide range of people and organizations prepared to work collaboratively, and apply what they know to make a difference in the lives of people. As is evident from today’s gathering the work on the MDG Acceleration Action Plan has brought diverse actors together under the leadership of the President and Government, around a specific set of actions, to combat hunger and malnutrition.

The result is an Action Plan which all actors and partners can get behind. The challenge for Chad is to cut the rate of malnutrition here in half and reduce the percentage of the population suffering from chronic hunger to under 21 per cent by 2015.  

Achieving these goals matters in the villages, communities, and households of Chad. By mobilizing attention, engagement, and support, the MDGs have improved the lives of many hundreds of millions of people around the world, enabling them to live healthier, longer lives, with more education and opportunity.

With still around 850 days to go before the MDG target date is reached, this is the time to accelerate progress – not to give up. Our efforts must focus on progress for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries, many of whom have been left behind, despite global progress towards the MDG targets.

I’m pleased to be launching this initiative in Chad, just a week before world leaders gather in New York, at the United Nations General Assembly, where they will attend a Special Event on the MDGs. The emphasis there will be on MDG acceleration, and on raising ambition for the post-2015 global development agenda. In that agenda, it will not do to be satisfied with just halving rates of extreme poverty and hunger. The aim must be to leave no one behind. We can be inspired by the progress to date on many of the MDGs in many countries – now we need a bolder and transformational agenda for the eradication of poverty and hunger.

The MDG Acceleration Framework approach was launched by the UN development system in 2010 to show that with political will, sound analysis of the obstacles to progress, a targeted action plan to overcome them, and adequate resourcing, the MDGs can be achieved in all countries from the least developed to the high middle income. By adopting this acceleration approach, Chad too can be part of the MDG success story.

Chad has made a good start with the MDG Acceleration Framework. Last year, the Government increased its funding for the agricultural sector, and is leading efforts to implement the Action Plan. It has laid out a path for agricultural transformation. With sustained and increased support from the international community too, Chad can achieve greater farm productivity, boost the incomes of small-holders and make nutritious balanced food more accessible and affordable for all people, including the poorest and most vulnerable.   

The Action Plan for Chad’s MDG Acceleration Framework spells out the steps needed to realize this longer-term goal, while also emphasizing the immediate and short-term measures which are critical to save lives and avoid development setbacks. In the short term it is important to scale up initiatives which both prevent and treat acute malnutrition among children and pregnant and breast-feeding women, and to ensure that vulnerable groups can access food aid. These efforts, now underway, are bringing humanitarian and development actors and partners around a common cause.

For the medium term, the Acceleration Action Plan promotes expanding community irrigation and other water management systems and giving better access for entrepreneurs and small-holder farmers to micro-credit and to business and marketing assistance.

But Chad’s Acceleration Action Plan also addresses, as it must, the underlying barriers to food security and poverty reduction in Chad. The solutions to these, must be sought in the context of Chad meeting its overall development aspirations.

The President’s emerging Vision 2025 sees Chad with a more diverse economy and livelihoods, with less dependency on oil for national revenues, and with dynamic and proactive social policies guaranteeing all Chadians adequate social services, health, education, and decent housing. The emerging vision aims at the level of transformation, which could see Chad attain middle-income and emerging economy status by 2025.

This inspirational and bold mission is matched by an ambitious National Development Plan for 2013-2015. The Acceleration Action Plan complements and feeds into both the emerging Vision 2025 and the National Development Plan by laying out specific steps to realize the rural and agricultural transformation Chadians seek. There is no denying, however, that this is a big task.  

Notwithstanding its ample natural resources, Chad remains one of the world’s poorest countries. More than half the people here live below the national poverty line and have limited access to basic services.

A range of challenges are faced simultaneously by the broader region – violent conflict, political instability, flows of refugees and displaced people, alongside climate change and broader environmental degradation. Pastoral and agricultural communities are at particular risk in these circumstances which strain their resilience to the limits. As shocks come thick and fast, each one becomes harder to recover from. That’s why by strengthening resilience, we go beyond tackling the symptoms of the problem to address the underlying causes.

At the local level, Chad’s MDG Acceleration Action Plan seeks to increase the autonomy of local communities, and support them to build resilience to shocks and make better use of their water resources. UNDP, partner agencies, civil society and the Government of Chad have teamed up to pilot an integrated approach to build resilience at the community level in the east of the country.

Having started recently in the Dar Sila province, and soon to be replicated in the Guera, Salamat and Kanem regions, this initiative will invest in the resilience of local and national institutions, by increasing their capacity to provide health, education, and rule of law services, and expand social protection and economic opportunities. It will reach out simultaneously to individuals and households to strengthen their ability to access financial services, tap new markets, seek and secure the protections of the law, increase their productivity, and help lead development in their communities.

To realize and sustain such progress, Chad’s prevailing peaceful co-existence with its neighbours and its growing internal stability are critical. Chad plays an increasingly active role in regional institutions, including the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Its voice is heard in the UN, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and elsewhere.      

On several occasions, Chad has led efforts to resolve regional crises. It is a vital partner in advancing peace and stability in the Sahel region and beyond.

Since the Political Agreement of August 2007, Chad has also made great strides in advancing democratic governance. Elected officials in Parliament, regions, and municipalities now seek to strengthen their capacity to play their critical roles in delivering on Chad’s development goals. In this respect, I commend the role the European Union has played, working with UNDP to support decentralization and step up capacity support for Parliament, municipal and local governments. I urge more partners to follow suit.

Free and fair elections, capable, democratic, and accountable institutions, and an effective and independent justice system are all critical for achieving sustained peace and human development. Chad’s recent adherence to the African Union’s Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is a very positive move. I encourage the Government to continue to deepen its fight against corruption, including by seeking and listening, and responding to the feedback of its citizens, civil society, and Parliament; and to empower its citizens and communities to take an active role in development.

Chad is making progress on realizing its commitment to gender equality, but significant challenges persist. More must be done to eliminate discrimination, and to empower and support women in their roles as farmers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. Gender equality is not only a human right – achieving it also drives development. I encourage the Government of Chad and its partners to put the National Gender Policy at the center of the development agenda here, and to ensure that all policies aim to reduce gender and other inequalities.

The proposed Round Table in early 2014 can provide Chad with a unique opportunity to strengthen its development partnerships and thus contribute towards the realization of a transformational vision for 2025. External partners can then consider how to support the good initiatives now underway, and put adequate resources, capacity support, and technical know-how behind national priorities.
UNDP is committed to supporting the Government in the preparation of the Round Table, drawing on our long-term partnership with Chad. We are also pleased that the Government is engaging  with the G7+ group of self-identified fragile states and has signed up to the New Deal. From our experience of working in states affected by fragility, we acknowledge the factors which can make it difficult to get ahead – including weak institutional capacity, poor relations between state and society, and a legacy of conflict and ongoing vulnerability to shocks such as natural disasters - now made more severe by climate change – which can aggravate internal grievances. Rapid urbanization, burgeoning young populations, and insufficient employment opportunities can also make the conflict-fragility-poverty trap hard to escape.

The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, agreed at the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011, reflects the current consensus on how the international community can help states transition out of this trap. Established under the leadership of the G7+ group, the New Deal lays out five priorities: promoting legitimate politics based on inclusive settlements and conflict resolution; advances in security; providing justice; building strong economic foundations - including employment and livelihoods; and improving revenue generation and services.

To eradicate extreme poverty everywhere, national and global efforts to support countries to break out of the conflict-fragility-poverty trap – will need to be scaled up. It’s good to see that the New Deal agenda is now influencing the international development debate, and, I hope, action. The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, for example, has recommended that peace and good governance be included as a central part of the future global development agenda.  This recognition that peace and governance are not add-ons but rather integral to what is meant by development, heralds a significant shift in thinking - and one for which UNDP has long advocated.

It seems to me that the international community is now more focused than ever on helping to address the underlying barriers to development in countries like Chad. This is an opportunity for Chad to take forward its emerging Vision 2025, the National Development Plan, and the MDG Acceleration Action Plan and the G7+-endorsed New Deal. At UNDP and in the UN Development Group, we are committed to supporting Chad to achieve the goals to which it aspires. 

In the post-2015 debate, the UN has facilitated a global conversation which has engaged more than a million people. Their overwhelming call is for a world where poverty in all its dimensions is consigned to history, where the prospects of people and the planet take priority, and where all nations, North and South, act to realize shared objectives. We are committed to working with Chad in support of its efforts to build a better future for all its people and to play its part in ensuring the peace and stability of its region.