Monday, 10 September 2012

Post-2015 Blog Week: 'The world has become impatient with poverty, social injustice, and deprivation' by Musa Ansumana Soko, YPPD

Musa Ansumana Soko is a youth development activist in Sierra Leone, working with the Youth Partnership for Peace and Development (YPPD) in Sierra Leone as an Executive Coordinator.
During the introduction of the MDGs, Sierra Leone was only just emerging from war, and the seriously fragmented institutions meant that development was very challenged. It was not until about 2005 that progress towards achieving the Goals really started.

The key turning point for the success of the MDGs in Sierra Leone was when the MDGs began to be owned at the national level - then, people began to say "Yes, let's work towards these goals" and front-line activism really took off on this issue. The lead-up towards the September 2010 UN MDG Review Summit in New York was an important moment for us to look at how far we had come and to address the challenges we had come up against as a post-war country in transition to development. Since this increased ownership of the MDGs in Sierra Leone, the water and sanitation situation here has improved as compared to original baselines (even though there still remain some tremendous challenges in this sector), and most of the advocacy in the past 2-3 years has been tied to the goals.

The MDGs did have some faults, most notably the lack of financial power of the Least Developed Countries, which has meant that it has been hard for them to move on. Although the MDG plans were good, they were lacking in real financial capacity.

Now the MDGs are coming to an end, it is time to reflect on what we have done so far, and to ask ourselves "What is best for the people of the world?" and "What kind of world do we want?". It's really important that it should be a participatory process which is everybody's business – every person in every village should have a say – as I like to say, “Anything for them without them is never for them”.

I don't think we should discard the goals completely when they end in 2015 - I think we need to look at what is realistic, and then refine the goals so that everybody understands them and everybody is engaged with them. We could have 100 or more goals but if they're not realistic, then it is like beating a dead horse!

There are a number of key issues which I believe should be highlighted in the new global development framework. Firstly, water and sanitation should be more prominent. The recent cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone is a real-life example of the lack of political prioritization of the sector, and the lack of funding it receives. We must make water and sanitation really visible to ensure that the goals are met. Secondly, I believe that young people should be at the fore of driving the process of development globally. There should be a process for young people to get involved, because they have the energy and the strength, and they are willing to contribute in the best possible ways they truly can. Thirdly, I believe there should be an increased focus on human rights for every citizen of the world.

I am involved with a wider civil society group on post-2015, spearheaded by CAFOD, in which we are finalising our position on the post-2015 agenda. We are also forming a number of sub-committees, for example on disaster management and on youth, and we are hoping to communicate our position directly to the UN.

However, because Sierra Leone has not been chosen as a priority country in the UNDP consultations, it is not clear how we can get our voices heard. We really need to make sure that the people on the ground are heard in the consultations.

The world has become impatient with poverty, social injustice, and deprivation - we can't wait any more. We need to come together, with a holistic approach, so that the people who can't be heard can rejoice.

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