Friday, April 18, 2014

Statement by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan At the Special Event to Follow up Efforts Made towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals 25 September 2013, United Nations, NY

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is nearing to fourteen years now that through the Millennium Development Goals, we committed to addressing some of the world’s most difficult and pressing development issues, including poverty, hunger, diseases, environmental degradation, and the promotion of gender equality, education and health. Despite significant progress in eight MDGs, nearly fourteen years later, these are still the main challenges facing our countries and our nations.
Afghanistan joined MDGs in 2004, and the United Nations extended its deadline for Afghanistan to 2020. Therefore, adjustments were made in details of targets and as a least developed and landlocked country, which is combating instability and conflict, an extra goal on enhancing security was added exclusively for Afghanistan as Goal 9.
When MDGs were adjusted and finalized for Afghanistan’s context and realities on the ground in 2004, the country mainstreamed its national strategies and National Priority Programs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Based on 2013 Afghanistan MDGs report, achievements and progress in some of the indicators in Afghanistan are commendable. The goals of 2015 for some indicators are met as early as 2010, and certain other indicators (for instance under 5 mortality rate in MDG 4) are well on track towards their targets. Some progress and achievement for some goals are still marginal and require more focus and resource mobilization.
Nearly 80% of Afghans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and so along with other agricultural reforms we have undertaken comprehensive efforts to rebuild and repair irrigation systems. The GDP per capita has quadrupled from 174 $ in 2002 to 624 $ in 2012.
Afghanistan’s health and education sectors have also developed enormously, thanks in large part to the assistance of our international partners, including this Organization. Afghanistan have established hundreds of clinics and hospitals across the country, expanding basic health coverage from 9% of the population in 2003 to 90% this year. Our national immunization campaign is in full swing, reaching out to millions of children under the age of five to protect them against polio and other deadly diseases.
In addition, more than 9 million boys and girls are enrolled in schools across the country. As part of our national agenda to promote primary, secondary and higher education, we have constructed close to 4,000 school buildings over the past nine years; and we are on track to build an additional 4,900 by end of 2013.
Mr. Chairman,
Security is the bedrock for socio-economic development, for MDGs and future SDGs. In Afghanistan the security situation has made it difficult to sustain our progress. The enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan, in forms of terrorists and extremists, are still active, orchestrating well-planned attacks against schools, clinics, teachers, doctors, government employees and even young children, particularly school girls. Similar attacks continue against humanitarian aid organizations and their personnel, who are working under difficult conditions to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans.  In recognition of the crucial role of security in providing space for development, Afghanistan has included it in the list of our MDGs as goal No 9.
Towards achieving the MDGs, and transitioning to post 2015 agenda, both country ownership and international partnerships are essential. These are more important in the case of my country as it is on the eve of transformation decade (2015-2024).
Having said that, let me emphasize on the importance of goal 8 of the MDGs to develop a global partnership for development. In the current circumstance of my country, a large amount of foreign aid flowed to Afghanistan since 2001. To a good extent the aid proved very helpful for the country and its people. Nevertheless, foreign aid was undermined to some extent by the lack of inadequate aid effectiveness. These issues were soon realized and the international community as well as Afghan government discussed and agreed to undertake measures to increase aid effectiveness and transparency.
Mr. Chairman,
Last but not least, we are aware of the challenges we face and our strong enthusiasm to overcome them. More than three billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 a day, and far too many are denied access to basic services of nutrition, shelter, water and other necessities of life. But Afghanistan is well aware as a least-developed and conflict affected country of exactly how much we can accomplish when working together.
Our responsibility, as human beings, is to persevere in our quest to improve the lives of our people. I am convinced that, with commitment, unity and focus, we will timely achieve the Millennium Development Goals while we are moving towards Sustainable Development Goals post 2015.
I thank you.