The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) addressed the fact that not enough recognition had been given to some of the world’s main development challenges: poverty reduction, education, maternal health, gender equality, child mortality, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The MDGs were instrumental in mobilizing the international development community around simple, clear and measurable goals. Shortfalls however, have occurred not because the MDGs are unreachable, or because time is too short, but due to unmet commitments, inadequate resources and a lack of focus and accountability. Now with a fast-approaching deadline to achieve MDGs by 2015, a strong consensus is emerging on the need for a bold and inspiring ‘Post-2015 Development Agenda’ that is measurable in both theory and practice, for effective implementation, monitoring and accountability of development delivery.
The first round of the global consultations in 2013, including in Zambia, were focused on the issues to be included in the Post-2015 Agenda, hence addressed the “what”. The dialogue organized under the auspices of the UN Country Team, ensured an active engagement of the government representatives, policy makers, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and young people across Zambia, with results which put Quality Education as the number one priority. This outcome saw the education sector get a boost in budget for 2014, and also guided the Zambia’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) to form a task-team to work further on preparing the country’s vision/position on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The task-team comprises of the Government of the Republic of Zambia, private sector, civil society and the UN. Globally, the national consultations provided substantive inputs to the Post-2015 processes, influencing key reports such as the SG’s High Level Panel on Post-2015 and the SG’s report on the MDGs and the Post-2015 Agenda: A Life of Dignity for All.
The initiative is now in its second round, focusing more on concrete ways of making the Post-2015 Agenda a reality by addressing the “How”. Continuing an inclusive dialogue on Post-2015 is an appeal by many young Zambians, who expressed a strong desire for continued avenues for consultation and engagement. It is also the mandate given to the UN by Member States; the Outcome Document of the UNGA68 Special Event on the MDGs and Post-2015 states: “In arriving at an inclusive and people-centered Post-2015 Development Agenda, we look forward to a transparent intergovernmental process which will include inputs from all stakeholders including civil society, scientific and knowledge institutions, parliaments, local authorities, and the private sector as governments count on the strong support of the UN system throughout all of its work.
The United Nations in Zambia conducted a district wide consultative dialogue program on the Post-2015 Development agenda from June 22, 2014 to June 28, 2014. Under the roadshows and the dialogues, 5000 people from different representations took part in the Participatory, Monitoring and Accountability dialogues which included Civil society groups, senior government officers, high schools and communities in Kitwe, Ndola and Kabwe
These meeting are in line with the first round of consultation on Post-2015 Agenda undertaken last year which focused on the issues to be included in the post-2015 agenda highlighting the need for better health facilities, more employment opportunities , a more responsive and caring government among other issues hence it addressed the ‘what’.
However, the second round of discussion was focused more on concrete ways of making the Post-2015 Agenda a reality by addressing the ‘How’, therefore through the discussions with the different stakeholders answers would be provided. The groups answered a set of questions as a way of trying to find out their level of participation in the development agenda, it was discovered that many of the people are never consulted in the development agenda as a result felt left out, this in the process made it difficult for them monitor and make their leaders accountable with the various resources entrusted to them.
In the discussion with CSOs many issues emerged they alluded to the fact that they knew about the existence of development plans, but they never got involved in the process this made it difficult for them to participate in monitoring all developmental projects and plans. They also lacked information on development plans and projects and therefore, they could not give feedback to the government. They reiterated that there was need by the government to involve the civil society development plans and to engage participatory governance. A bottom up kind of flow of information would motivate people’s participation in local debate and this would provide effective monitoring and accountability.
Regarding the MDGs, most of the youth talked to were unfamiliar with the MDGs and their wider implications in national development. Most young people think the MDGs are for the United Nations and the government and by extension didn’t know who is responsible for achieving the MDGs. The youth pointed out that Government should therefore create a platform for consultation on developmental issues among the youth in order for them to be actively involved in molding the future because participatory monitoring and accountability is the only tool that is able to push for policy change in the way implementation of developmental projects are done.
The parliamentarians and councilors during their own deliberations, said although they were aware of the district plans they did not know them and were not actively involved in the process of planning, other than the implementation stage. They agreed that information should be made available to all stakeholders to foster development; the availability of information enables the stakeholders and key policy makers to give necessary feedback on the matters of development and the plans for development.
In order to achieve the ‘How’ of the Post -2015 agenda, the challenges that are being faced should be resolved. All stakeholders should be actively involved the development planning as well as the developmental projects and should not see the Post-2015 Agenda as independent of their core business but must be their core business; young people should change their views and start seeing themselves as changers and key contributors to national development. There must be available data on MDGs as well as the Post-2015 Agenda readily available for all and all stakeholders must be well educated on the matter at hand in order for them the participatory monitoring and accountability to work. It is widely acknowledged that participatory, monitoring and accountability can bring a comparative advantage in undertaking developmental projects relating to providing inclusive and transparent practices which will change habits and promote monitoring of developmental projects.