04 February 2013
The MDGs: the best thing your friends have never heard of?
I had these conversations because one of them spotted me on the BBC News Channel on Friday night talking about the MDGs.
The conversations go something like this:
friend: So what will you talking about on the telly?
me: The Millennium Development Goals.
friend: What are they then?
me: Goals that all nations signed up to to help end poverty and hunger and disease.
friend: have we ended poverty and hunger and disease?
me: Er, no
friend: Why not?
me: Well, it depends on the goal and the country.
friend: Give me an example then.
me: Well for hunger in East Africa it is about peace, roads and drought.
friend: And money?
me: Sometimes it is not enough money, but often it's about how money is spent--which regions and what it is spent on.
friend: Sounds complicated.
me: It is.
friend: Has the MDG-thingy worked then?
me: It has been better than anyone expected--look at the fuss everyone is making about them--if they didn't count no-one would give a hoot.
friend: I'll overlook the use of the word "hoot" -- how have they worked?
me: Well, they have increased aid, more of it has gone to Africa, and more to health and education. Most importantly they have been a rallying call for the development community.
friend: So why do we need new goals if the old ones work and have not been met?
me: Good question (panics for answer)--because there are new problems (e.g. climate change), things we did not get right the first time around (including more on monitoring actions as well as outcomes), and frankly because we need to reenergise everyone to complete the unfinished agenda.
friend: Reenergise? It already sounds really exciting to me!
me: hmm, you may be right (realising that he may just be a wee jaded)
A communications expert once told me, if you want to be able to speak persuasively about development, talk to your (non work) friends about it. They will ask you the hard questions and you won't be able to dodge behind jargon. Quite.
Posted by Lawrence Haddad at 07:37