Following independence in 1964, Zambia ranked amongst
the most prosperous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is
now the fourth poorest, and one of the most unequal countries
in the world. Since 2000, the UNDP (United Nations
Development Programme) and national government have
made efforts to meet the MDGs (Millennium Development
Goals), but the indicators still reveal a depressing picture.
This article analyses the efforts that are being made in
Zambia to achieve the MDGs and critically assesses the
economic, political and social blockages towards achieving the
Goals at a national and international level.
The launch of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals)
represents one of many international development goal-setting
exercises of the UN over the past fifty years. Other UN goals have
included: ending colonialism; acceleration of economic growth in
developing countries; expansion of education; eradication of
smallpox, malaria and other communicable diseases; expansion of immunisation; improving the situation of women and children;
and increasing overseas development assistance (ODA) to least
developed countries (LDCs) (Jolly 2004). The track record in
achieving some of the stated goals is very poor. At the end of four
UN Development Decades there are more impoverished people
in the world than ever before. Is the UNвЂ™s latest development
initiative substantially different from previous initiatives? What
are its strengths and what criticisms have been levelled against it?
What impact has the MDG process been making in Africa?
With a Human Development Index ranking of 163 Zambia is
one of the least developed countries in the world (UNDP 2004).
Without question, reducing the number of Zambians living in
absolute poverty is a valid goal to be pursued at a national and
international level. Based on current trends, however, this and
most of the other 7 MDGs are unlikely to be met in Zambia by
2015. From this one might infer that the MDGs are not making
a great deal of difference at the local level in improving the lives
of the most impoverished. This paper sets out to examine the
main reasons why this is so, taking international as well as
national economic, social and political factors into consideration.