SDGs not working for Africans, global north to blame, says report

The lobby consist of 95 Nobel laureates and other professionals.

In Summary

• The Justice for Africa’s Children report says the global institutions enact policies that favor west and drip drip finally exacerbates poverty against African child

•  Laureates and Leaders for Children say children are still married off early, continue to drop out of school and that sustainable development goals are not working for Africans.

Children in sub-Saharan African countries, including Kenya, are sinking deeper in poverty, a lobby of former Nobel laureates has said.

The Laureates and Leaders for Children say children are still married off early, continue to drop out of school and that sustainable development goals are not working for Africans.

The group now warns that unless the world gives enough attention to the situation in the global south, the conditions will worsen over time and this could have grave import for world security.

The lobby consists of 95 Nobel laureates and other professionals.

The Justice for Africa’s Children report also calls out the slopped global debt management system — whose balance disfavors Africans — unequal response to Covid-19, corporate tax abuses and offshore wealth impoverishing Africans, discrimination at IMF, especially through special drawing rights and broken aid promises.

The report also complains about broken climate financing promises, unequal refugee response and unjust immigration policies.  

The worsening poverty is providing a conducive space for emergence of diseases, brewing of conflict, and with the deathly mix of merciless drought and famine, displacement of population and mass immigration is the expected outcome.

The report released early last month shows the goals are working for countries of the global north, depicted by uptick in their GDP and other social indicators, but not African children. Time to think and do something.

The report says fewer children in sub-Saharan Africa are going to school and income inequalities are worsening. 

The SDGs are 17 thematic objectives launched by the United Nations in 2015 aimed to tackle poverty, gender and income inequality, ensure access to clean water and sanitation, among other goals. 

They also sought to widen access to quality education and clean sustainable energy for all. 

The objectives also aim to have people engaged in decent work for eking out a living as well as promoting peaceful and inclusive societies by building strong institutions and dispensation of justice.

The group says since inception of the goals almost eight years on, African families and nations are sinking into “cyclic poverty, forcing children out of school and into child labour, child marriage, and slavery".

Consequently, millions of children under the age of five die every year from preventable causes.

For example, the lobby says that while the global wealth in terms of GDP has increased significantly since the SDGs, wealth in African countries has taken a dip.

The number of children subjected to labour in other parts of the world has declined but in Africa, 20 million more are still engaged in the illegal labour.

To demonstrate the “global conspiracy to ensure the SDGs don’t for Africans”, the report cites the Covid-19 response in which rich nations passed over the frameworks of the United Nations for Group of 20 (G20) and Group of 7 (G7) where major supportive packages for vulnerable families and business were mooted. Low-income countries were ignored.

“Of the $12 trillion boasted about in the G7’s ‘global agenda for action’ in July 2021, only a tiny fraction of the funding– just 0.2% per cent – went in additional ODA to sub-Saharan African countries.”

This skewed channeling of dollars heads against sub-Saharan African during the once in a century pandemic exacerbated the poverty situation, with millions of children becoming the victims at the end of the chain.

“Millions of children living in refugee camps were left struggling with reduced food rations and little or no access to remote learning. Millions of children were forced out of school and into work to support families with few savings and no access to social protection. Millions of girls’ futures came to an end with school closures and increases in child marriage.”

In regards to the International Monetary Fund, the lobby complains that its “discriminatory” practices in handling global finance has contributed in pushing Africans deeper into poverty, and making lives unbearable.

In particular, the report says in the wake of the global pandemic, IMF came forward to address the liquidity crisis faced by many countries and issued a facility that was to help.

The acute global liquidity crisis caused by Covid-19 particularly affected poorer countries, which were unable to undertake quantitative easing as was being done by the US and European Union central banks at the time.

It was in August 2021.

The global bank took the role of a global Central Bank to help the central banks of the poor countries, promising to issue $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to generate funds for countries struggling with the pandemic. The SDR was an interest-bearing international reserve asset.

But instead of favouring poor countries, whose bulging population were acutely affected by the economic backlash of the pandemic and even considering their faltering Central banks, the IMF favored the rich western nations, who already had their bail out by the G7/G20 packages.

“Instead of allocating this emergency global funding in proportion to each country’s population, however, or even giving more to the poorer countries which couldn’t undertake quantitative easing and desperately needed the liquidity, the IMF’s executive board allocated most of it to rich countries, and those rich countries decided to keep these allocations,” the report says.

The lobby also fingers the rich nations’ questionable commitment to climate justice.

It says that despite many global meet ups about climate change — which turn out to be talking shops and parading of power —, the rich nations make little commitments and never bother to fulfill them.

“[Climate reparation is] a further injustice in the long list of broken promises on climate financing that low-income countries have had to endure. With a few notable exceptions, richer countries have continuously failed to meet their commitments on the international stage, let alone step up to address all the damage they have caused on CO2 emissions.”

It says that despite being the main source of the harmful gases that have destroyed the climate health, the huge impacts are borne by the poor African countries and when the victims try to escape the vagaries, they are met by racist policies governing immigration in the global north.

The hostility against the refugees, especially those of color, is fueled by unfair media landscape that creates a defective impression in the rich countries ignoring the fact that the refugees have immensely contributed to their progress.

“Refugees have become easy political targets for wealthy governments, which – despite their rising wealth – are creating an increasingly hostile environment for refugees, particularly for refugees of colour. Much of the hostility towards refugees comes from discriminatory or incorrect reporting, which leads to false impressions in rich countries.

"All of this ignores both the positive impact of refugees to the economies of wealthy countries and the far greater contribution that poorer countries make to providing asylum,” the lobby says. 

All these ills, among many others, it says, granulate into adverse impacts on the children in Africa as the resultant poverty affects them most.

Although efforts to increase education enrolment and retention and to decrease child labour, extreme poverty, and stunted growth due to malnutrition had made some progress in Africa, in the last decade, injustice for Africa’s children has been increasing due to global inequality.

“The scale of injustice Africa is facing is shocking and debilitating to the efforts to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals,” the report says.

"These appalling increases are a result of the dramatically unfair share of growth Africa has received. While the rest of the world has broadly seen increases in wealth since 2016, Africa has seen a substantial decrease in GDP per capita and, by not growing at the same rate as other countries, sub-Saharan Africa has lost $898.7 billion in the 2016-2021 period alone," the report reads. 

The report says that coincidentally, the world has increasingly become richer amid Africa misery, reaching a highest global GDP in 2021.

"Despite two global economic disasters in just 15 years, the wealth of the richest citizens and countries keeps increasing at an unbelievable rate.”

“This rate becomes shameful when compared with the decreasing rate in sub-Saharan Africa, where GDP per capita is lower in 2021 than it was in 2011. When the exploitation of Africa’s abundant natural resources and its poorest citizens to create much of the increase in global wealth is considered, the disparity is grotesque."

The report analysed data across numerous sectors from which it says it "presents irrefutable evidence of the modern day global economic injustices faced by Africa and her children in just the last seven years, have cost trillions of dollars - and millions of lives.”

Edited by Eliud Kibii


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