By Brightwell Chabusha
The attainment of Sustainable Development and Goals (SDGs) is under threat from the Covid-19 pandemic, Government has said.
Ministry of National Development Planning and the Sustainable Development Permanent Secretary for Development Cooperation, Monitoring and Evaluation, Trevor Kaunda said the pandemic affects not only the health sector but also the ability of countries, including Zambia, to finance development.
Mr Kaunda said during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry and the Sustainable Development and Goals Center for Africa (SDGCA) that the country’s economy contracted by 3.0 percent following the onset of the covid-19 pandemic last year.
He mentioned that the monitoring and reporting system comes at an opportune time when there is need to attain the SDGs targets and safeguard the milestones that have been achieved so far.
The MoU which was signed at the one-day workshop that the SDGCA hosted to showcase the Monitoring and Reporting System (MRS) on SDGs aims at strengthen collaboration in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.
“World over, the attainment of SDGs is under threat from Covid-19 pandemic as it affects not only the health sector but also the ability of countries, including Zambia, to finance development,” he said.
“In the case of Zambia, following the onset of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, preliminary estimates indicate that the economy contracted by 3.0 percent. The implications of which have been seen and felt through increased cost of living and unemployment levels, as well as a higher government deficit, among others, thus fundamentally threatening the improvements in wellbeing attained so far.”
Mr Kaunda noted that through the implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) several achievements had been made.
He said among the achievements, the improvements in life expectancy to 63.04 years in 2019 from 53.3 years in 2016; literacy rates to 80 percent from 67.5 percent during the same period, and reduction in under-five mortality from 75 per thousand live births in 2016 to 61 per thousand live births in 2019.
The Permanent Secretary therefore mentioned that the monitoring and reporting systems were key in ensuring that the achievements were safeguarded.
“In the interest of safeguarding the well-being of its citizens, the Government of Zambia is implementing measures, particularly, through the COVID-19 National Multi-Sectoral Contingency and Response Plan as well as the Economic Recovery Programme,” he said.
“Therefore, the MRS will be of great value and the MoU between the Ministry of National Development Planning and the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa will allow the country to place itself on vantage ground to accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, and thus ultimately, improved wellbeing for its citizens.”
Meanwhile, SDGCA Acting Director General Caroline Makasa stressed the need for Africa to provide its own data on the progress in the implementation of SDGs.
She said reliance on internationally provided development data, proved insufficient to provide necessary evidence in tracking and reporting progress on SDGs.
“Having inadequate data or no data in many African countries, undermines the capacity to establish SDG baselines and to track the performance of SDG indicators to enforce evidence based decision making,” she said.
“To address these challenges the SDGCA has developed a real time monitoring and reporting system that captures data and is dedicated to monitoring and reporting SDGs, Agenda 2063 as well as regional commitments at country level.”
This is according to a statement issued to the media by the Ministry’s Spokesperson, Mr Chibaula Silwamba.