We keep our promises and honor our commitments. – Barrack Obama.
Such words when said by the leader of a country that is involved in most development activities ongoing especially in the 3rd World countries may seem to be a mockery of the dire situations that exist in those countries. But that is the message that came across when Pres. Obama addressed the United Nations when world leaders had gone for the review of the MDGs in New York.
Development has come about yet the majority of those who are meant to receive it still face issues on other sides. MDGs on education may be on track but what about those who face hunger? The women who die when giving birth? The children who suffer from malnutrition? The five remaining years are quite short and it is only through working together with other countries that will have the MDGs achieved.
The approach that has been taken when tackling the problems that were meant to be resolved by the MDGs was the same and Obama said that development has always been seen in terms of what is expedited and not the returns that are received from it. Development may be hard to implement especially when working with communities who may not see immediate change at all. But that does not mean giving up. New strategies are what are needed to tackle this and in this regards, the entire development agenda of the United States will be overhauled. Focus will be on what is gained on the ground rather than what is spent by the aid agencies.
The main focus of the speech was that development had to come about and those that take the lead will be helped. Giving examples of countries that were changing the way their citizens have better services, Obama said that development has to be sustainable and they will work with partners that want to build their own capacity in providing services for their people. By incorporating the ideas that are being worked on in the providers, they will be able to do so much more since global problems affect us all and it would be imprudent to work on one angle and leave others.
While economic patterns cannot be forced down on the individual countries, some things should be enhanced in order to ensure that development is unhindered. These include;
- Entrepreneurship: Making the people in these countries become self-sustainable instead of having to rely on handouts.
- Proper governance and democracy: The right structures have to be put in place to ensure that business and development by extension continues.
- Free markets: Even with all the efforts put in place, it would be detrimental to have rulesb that block exchange of goods and services between different countries. A better Doha round is what Obama’s administration was looking at.
- Mutual Accountability and Transparency: Corruption must be eradicated and this should not only apply to the governments of the countries that the USA is willing to work with but also on the US itself and the corporations that work in such countries.
- Building on Talent: By working on the bottom, change can be moved all across the board and they will strive to work with women, daughters and the youth as a whole.
A final plea was to the other donor nations to ensure that they uphold to the same values that they ask of the countries that they are helping. Development projects that are not working would face the axe and those that were, would be enhanced. Governments, aid agencies, NGOs and the private sector would be best if they worked in areas that they were good at to ensure that there is efficiency and also put an end to the duplication of efforts. Development should be sustainable and that through the efforts of all, they could work.
This is what reads like the perfect ambitious way of doing things but it seems like it is the way to go especially with the out-of-the-box thinking that has been adopted by Obama. And as he says, development should not be about outflows but whether lives are changed and ensures that future generations have the security against falling back to the problem that has just been solved.