April-May 2008
2015 or bust?

I want my MDGs

THIS early, some politicians are already gearing up for 2010. But there’s another year that’s worth keeping in mind: 2015, which is the deadline for countries that signed the Millennium Declaration to meet the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs.

We confess: our eyes glazed over and we had to resort to copious amounts of coffee while plowing through papers explaining the MDGs. The goals, after all, are broken down into 18 “quantifiable” targets “that are measured by 48 indicators,” as the United Nations put it. Read that as a list of statistics and paragraph upon paragraph of U.N.-speak.

But behind those statistics and numbing jargon are people — millions of them, in fact. Some are part of the government bodies and international development institutions that are supposed to work together to reach the MDGs. The bulk, however, is made up of the world’s poorest who are the target beneficiaries of the 15-year global effort. Considering that the Philippines is not only among the Millennium Declaration signatories, but also has about a third (although it feels more than that) of its population deemed poor, the MDGs should be on almost everyone’s radar in this country. Yet even those who were supposed to have been given the task to meet the specific targets seem clueless when asked about these, let alone the MDGs.

Last October, the Philippine government came out with the midterm progress report on the goals. Its assessment is that the country is doing fairly well in terms of meeting most of the targets, but it also admits there are some sore spots that need to be looked at and addressed. In the piece that opens i-Report’s latest series, which focuses on the MDGs, former National Treasurer Leonor Magtolis Briones asserts that the picture becomes even less rosy when the national figures are broken down to local levels.

The next few weeks will have us visiting places up and down the country (and maybe even your very own hometown) to see how local governments are faring with the MDGs. As you can already guess, the reports on their performances will not all be glowing. But we do hope to show you precisely why 2015 should be tattooed especially on politicians’ foreheads.