The goals in action

Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD)

Since the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) published the international development goals in 1996 – in a report called Shaping the 21st Century: the Contribution of Development Co-operation – the commitment to halve world poverty has become the focus of the development policies of the majority of donor organisations.

Indeed, many donors measure their performance – and some set their budgets – by the contribution that they make towards achieving this goal. This focus on poverty reduction – long central to UN programmes – is now key to IMF and World Bank lending to low income countries, which is to be provided in support of locally-owned, participatory poverty reduction strategies, usually in connection with debt relief.

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has made the international development goals central to its policies and programmes. In its 1997 White Paper it pledged: “We shall work closely with other governments and organisations to eliminate poverty, and use our influence to encourage others to achieve the international development targets. We shall pursue these partnerships with poorer countries who are also committed to them. We shall measure how effective our efforts are against the internationally agreed targets.” In order to secure additional development financing for 2001-2004, DFID has set intermediate targets, by which its results will be judged. These include:

• Improved education systems in the top ten recipients of DFID education support demonstrated by an average increase in primary school enrolment from a baseline established in 2000 of 75% to 81% on the basis of data available in 2004;

• Improvements in child, maternal and reproductive health in the top ten recipients of DFID health care assistance demonstrated by: a decrease in the average under-5 mortality rate from 132 per 1,000 live births in 1997 to 103 on the basis of data available in 2004; an increase in the proportion of births assisted by skilled attendants from a baseline established in 2000 of 43% to 50% on the basis of data available in 2004.

The World Bank adopted the goals in its Strategic Compact in 1997 and reports annually on progress toward the goals in the World Development Indicators. This year the Bank’s annual report and the World Development Report: Attacking Poverty include a section, adapted from A Better World for All, showing an overview of progress as in this Spotlight. The poverty and social goals make up the first tier of the Bank’s internal corporate scorecard.

They appear in the Comprehensive Development Frameworks and Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs) prepared by member countries in a participatory manner. These strategies and frameworks are being produced in close collaboration with the IMF which, in 1999, published the goals on a small card called the “seven pledges of sustainable development”. The PRSs are critical for ensuring that debt relief in heavily indebted poor countries is directed to poverty-reducing programmes.

©OECD Observer No 223, October 2000




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