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United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Accelerating Africa's Development to meet the MDGs:
Challenges and the way forward for Southern Africa

Report of the Thirteenth Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for Southern Africa (ICE)

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Lusaka, Zambia

14 - 16 March 2007

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The 13th Intergovernmental Committee of Experts meeting of the Economic Commission for Africa, Southern Africa Office (ECA-SA) was held in Lusaka, Zambia, from 14-16 March 2007. The meeting was held under the theme "Accelerating Africa's Development to meet the MDGs: Challenges and the Way Forward for Southern Africa".

The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts comprises senior Government experts from southern African countries, who supervise the work of the Economic Commission for Africa, Southern Africa Office and ensures that the development priorities of the sub region are fully addressed in the UNECA programme of work.

The major objective of the thirteenth ICE meeting was for Southern Africa to take stock of progress it was making towards achieving the MDGs. In 2005, the ECA-SA Office undertook a study, which reviewed the status and trends in meeting the MDGs in southern Africa. The report found that progress was very uneven with a number of countries experiencing a deterioration in human development compared to the preceding decade. Among the chief reasons for the deterioration was the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Southern African Countries also continued to face high poverty levels and income inequalities, food insecurity, environmental degradation and resource constraints in meeting their full developmental needs.

As the mid way point of the MDGs approaches in September 2007, the Economic Commission for Africa southern African office has conducted another assessment. The outcome of the 2007 assessment shows that the levels of poverty have not declined as expected and the target of halving the number of people living on less than 1$ per day seems unachievable by 2015 for the region as a whole. In some of the countries, poverty levels have actually increased! In respect of HIV and AIDS, the epicentre of the pandemic remains firmly in Southern Africa with the sub region showing the highest HIV prevalence in the world. Poverty, HIV and AIDS coupled with the persistent high income inequalities and inadequate budgets for the social sectors have all led to reversals in the human development index for many of the countries in the sub region.

Clearly, urgent intervention is required if southern African countries, as a whole, have to achieve the MDGs. The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts reviewed the above and other challenges faced by Southern African countries, which impede the achievement of the MDGs. They particularly addressed the impact of the macro-economic policies and the backward and forward linkages to job creation, the role of the private sector; and the social dimensions, especially the challenges that governments face. The meeting proposed a number of interventions to accelerate the attainment of the MDGs in southern Africa. These have been summarised in a policy statement issued at the end of the meeting. This is included in this report.

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