PH poverty reduction remains dismal, says UNBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
JAKARTA – The Philippines’ performance in meeting its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has remained dismal with barely three years into the deadline to achieve the objectives set by United Nations member-states, according to a UN report.
The “Asian-Pacific Regional MDG Report: Accelerating Equitable Achievement of the MDGs” was one of several reports cited by the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2012, a joint publication of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP).
The 134-page publication was released during the just-concluded 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Yogyakarta, some 430 kilometers southeast of the Indonesian capital.
The UN report on the MDGs disclosed, among others, that the Philippines was years behind on most of its development objectives.
Of the seven MDGs, the country got failing grades in four – eradicating extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality and sustaining maternal health.
On the other hand, it received favorable scores in gender equality, reducing tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS prevalence and ensuring environmental sustainability.
The UN described as “regressing” and “no progress” the Philippines’ performance in education-related objectives, and “slow” in dealing with anti-poverty reduction, child mortality reduction, as well as maternal health problems.
But it cited the country for being an “early achiever” in gender equality, the campaign against TB and environmental issues like forest cover, protected areas, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The Philippines was “on track” in other environment-related issues like basic sanitation and use of safe drinking water, it also said.
The nine other Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-states also scored regressing and no progress ratings for some of their MDG targets: Indonesia, HIV-AIDS and forest cover; Laos, HIV-AIDS and TB, and forest cover and carbon dioxide emissions; Cambodia, education and environment; Brunei Darussalam, environment; Malaysia, forest cover and carbon dioxide emissions; Vietnam, carbon dioxide emissions; Myanmar, forest cover and carbon dioxide emissions; Thailand, education, child mortality, forest cover and carbon dioxide emissions; and Singapore, maternal health.
According to the UNISDR and ESCAP report, “establishing direct links between MDGs and disasters is not an easy task, considering the complex interplay of the various types of economic, social, urban and environmental vulnerabilities.”
However, the report said, “several recent case studies clearly show the impact of disasters on several MDGs.”
“When cyclone Sid struck Bangladesh in 2007, its impacts on the economy amounted to $1.67 billion. Damage and losses of $925 million in the social sector affected MDGs like achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality and combating HIV-AIDs and malaria and TB.,” it said.
“Damage and losses in the production sector adversely affected other MDGs, including eradicating poverty, while losses in infrastructure affected MDG no. 7, or ensuring environmental sustainability.”
In Pakistan, the report noted that “there was sufficient damage and loss data from several post-disaster needs assessments of successive disasters with impacts on the education sector.”
While the south Asian country was on track to realize the MDG indicator for primary enrolment in schools based on its statistical trend in 2004, “slower progress” was recorded in 2008 and 2009, said the report.
“It follows that the disasters resulted in the reduced quality, quantity and prevailing level of education. Development efforts to attain MDG targets without appropriate risk reduction measures can unintentionally increase levels of vulnerability and consequential disaster risks,” it further said.
The agency noted that the years of implementing MDGs have resulted in “important progress towards reducing global disparities and the risks of disasters.”
Each year, Southeast Asia suffers damage in excess of $4.4 billion, or about 0.2 percent of the region’s gross domestic product from disaster losses associated with floods, typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and droughts.”
“Annual economic losses due to disasters have been found to be the highest for the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, in that order, while Singapore and Brunei present the lowest losses,” said the same report.
Margareta Wahlstrom, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative on disaster risk reduction, has noted “countries were increasingly embracing the view that minimizing disaster risk was essential for achieving sustainable development.”
“Many have started to take action to build the resilience of communities, but more needs to be done to protect various population segments that are vulnerable to disasters, such as women, children, people with disabilities and the aged as very little concerted efforts have been made to deal with these populations,” she said.
Wahlstrom urged governments to “focus on development strategies that reduce exposure to hazards and invest more in disaster risk reduction policies to achieve greater resilience against disasters.”