The meeting of world leaders is scheduled to take place from 20 to 22 September.
Ahead of the summit, non-governmental organisations met with President Jacob Zuma to brief him on progress made by the sector towards the achievements of some of the goals.
The MDGs, crafted at a UN meeting 10 years ago, are regarded as the world's most focused time-bound and quantified targets for addressing poverty, hunger, disease and lack of adequate shelter among others.
According to a report commissioned by the UN, between 1990 and 2002 average overall incomes increased by approximately 21 percent. The number of people in extreme poverty declined by an estimated 130 million 1. Child mortality rates fell from 103 deaths per 1 000 live births a year to 88. Life expectancy rose from 63 years to nearly 65 years. An additional 8 percent of the developing world's people received access to water.
But it said progress has been far from uniform across the world-or across the goals. “There are huge disparities across and within countries. Within countries, poverty is greatest for rural areas, though urban poverty is also extensive, growing, and underreported by traditional indicators,” read the report.
Zuma said while there were still a lot of challenges, South Africa has made significant progress in achieving many of the goals. “There has been good coordination between all sectors and government including the NGOs to ensure that we are on time to meet some of the goals…I have been receiving reports from the government side and I thought it was important that I hear the side of the civil society,” he said.
The NGOs and government have also agreed to meet after the UN summit to do a “postmortem” of what happened in New York and also to assess the progress made by other countries.
Zuma said, through the millennium goals, for the first time the world was able to identify priorities that were “very serious” and leaders were able to work together towards achieving common goals.
“I believe the summit will be an important thermometer as to whether we have made progress or not and certainly from the South African point of view we have made a lot of progress and yes in some aspects we have to do more”.
Answering a question on the slow progress among other African nations, Zuma was adamant that there was no need “to be pessimistic” about Africa’s MDGs targets. He said the fact that the countries were ready to give reports was an indication of their eagerness to show what has been done.
“So I don’t think we should be pessimistic in anyway because progress is being made and I’m hoping all of us will be able to meet our targets,” he said.
Mandisa Monakali of Ilitha Labantu, one of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to represent South Africa at the three-day UN summit, said one of the recommendations the civil society made to Zuma was a need for the escalation of partnerships. “We have touched a lot on that and the message we are taking to the world is how we as a country is progressing in achieving our MGDs because for us it is important to be seen as pushing towards the same direction,” she said.
She added that if South Africa is to achieve all its MGDs, including alleviating poverty, it had to tackle gender–based violence and make it part of the MGDs. “It is an issue that cuts across and therefore should not be treated separately.” – BuaNews