• MDG Report 2011 - How should Christians respond?

    Posted by Amanda

    19 July, 2011

    The idea of 'promise' is important to Christians; indeed it is important to all of us humans, made in God's image. Thanks to the work of Micah Challenge supporters around the world, the Millennium Development Goal promises made in 2000 are more than ever in the heart of the church We cannot ignore them now or decide they are not worthy of effort.

    As we near that completion date of 2015, we should be encouraged to act with even more persistence.

    The current hunger disaster on our TV screens in East Africa might seem to indicate that nothing ever changes, but there is much good news:
    • The 2011 UN MDG Report released on 7 July by Ban ki-Moon, gives reason for hope. MDG2 on primary education and MDG3 on gender equality are within reach for many nations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Child deaths are down to 8.1 million per year - 3.3 million fewer than 20 years ago - or 12,000 fewer deaths each day. Christian action and advocacy for children has helped to produce these heartening changes!
    • Malaria deaths are down 20% this century. HIV/AIDS infections are down especially in sub-Saharan Africa where the drop in infections is 21% since the peak in 1997. In one year an extra 1.2 million people in poor and middle-income countries have had access to anti-retroviral drugs.
    • In every region of the world, more people have access to clean water - 1.1 billion more since 1990.
    The challenge is to use the remaining four-and-a-half years to intensify efforts especially among the very poorest. Being poor (especially if you're poor and female) and living in a conflict zone is an equation that equals insecurity, lack of opportunity and lack of access to basic services.

    We do not want to be unreasonably optimistic but the MDG Report, which covers the worst period of global economic downturn, shows that nations are taking the MDGs seriously and we are seeing results. We need the voices of ordinary Christians more than ever so that progress on the MDGs reaches the very least in rural communities in South Sudan or the slums of Fiji.

    Monitoring progress and gaps in the Goals is an area in which local churches in poor communities can make a special contribution. Who better to know what is happening at the local clinic or school than the local church who can register and report on service delivery on the ground. This is already happening in some communities but there is opportunity to contribute much more.

    The Millennium Development Goals reflect a biblical vision of justice for the most vulnerable and marginalised - in particular women and children - the people that Jesus took special care to recognise and respect. We call on Christians everywhere to make the promises reality so that God's kingdom vision for his people is made more evident.

    Amanda Jackson is the Head of Policy and Campaigns at Micah Challenge International and the former National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia.