Statement delivered by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator on the third Nepal MDGs Progress Report 2010

Sep 7, 2010

Honourable Constituent Assembly member, Navodita Chaudhary, honourable Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel, colleagues and friends,

I am honoured to welcome you all today for the launch of this very important report - the third progress report on achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Nepal.

Our launch takes place on the eve of a Global Summit on the MDGs later this month at United Nations headquarters. At the Summit, we hope world leaders will agree on a plan to accelerate progress as we head down the final stretch towards the 2015 finishing line.

The Summit is expected to celebrate some victories and recommit to where we are lagging. Globally there is much to celebrate. Just under one billion people have been lifted out of poverty since 1990. The number of primary school age children out of school has been reduced by 37 million in the space of only 10 years. Progress is evident in reducing child and maternal mortality, improving gender parity, increasing access to HIV treatments to name a few of the important areas of progress. 
At the same time that the share of poor people is declining, the absolute number of the poor in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa is actually increasing. And countries that achieved rapid reductions in income poverty are not necessarily making the same progress in gender equality and environmental sustainability. It also appears increasingly clear that attention to the quality of education and health services may have suffered in the rush to extend coverage.
For its part, Nepal has much to be proud of, on the MDG front. This is nothing short of extraordinary given some of the political and economic challenges faced by this country.

Without wanting to steal Professor Bajracharya?s thunder, I do want to recognize the extraordinary achievements in the areas of child and maternal health in particular. With infant mortality dropping to close to 40 and under five child mortality to 50 per 1,000 live births, these figures are almost three times lower than 1990. Maternal Mortality Ratio has reduced dramatically from 850 to 229? a fourfold drop. Nepal is well on track to achieving these two goals. Credit must go to Government for making the right policy choices ? such as the National Safe Motherhood plan and the Health Sector Assistance Program ? and to the vital front-line work of service providers themselves, for their extraordinary work at the community. Nepal?s bilateral and multilateral partners have also been there for Nepal on this journey. 

Today?s report also articulates eloquently the outstanding challenges for Nepal. And in calling for the kind of MDG progress that is more equitable ? by gender, by region, by caste - the bridge between our discussions here today and the discussions taking place in the corridors of the CA or party HQs is abundantly clear - progress on the MDGs is good for Nepal. But the right kind of progress on the MDGs is essential. For peace. 

The timing of this report has been important also as Nepal prepares its next three year development plan. I am glad to see that many of the recommendations from this report have already made a mark on the approach paper which was recently endorsed by National Development Council. This underlines the government?s commitment to the MDGs. And is a fitting tribute to the leadership of the current Vice Chair, his predecessor and the members of the Planning Commission and Secretariat.

Has Nepal got what it takes for a sprint on the final stretch to the MDG 2015 finish-line? We know what needs to happen to turn these indicators around for good ? sound policies that are sustained from one year to the next, clear roles and responsibilities for all those involved, greater resources directed to the community level for allocation and oversight, and a laser-focus on results. Nepal has shown the way on maternal and infant mortality - let?s apply the lessons to hunger, water, sanitation, and inequality. So we can start planning now for an even bigger celebration in 2015!

Thank you for your presence this morning and for your kind attention.