Remarks by the Ambassador of Finland, H.E. Mrs. Heli Sirve, at the launch of the Government CSOs Partnership on MDGs Advocacy, 12th March 2008
Dr Edward Sambili, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Planning and National Development
Mrs. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Deputy Resident Representative for UNDP Kenya,
Mr. Gideon Mailu, Head of the MDG unit,
Representatives of partner Civil Society Organisations,
Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I join you today to launch the Government of Kenya's partnership with Civil Society Organisations on MDGs advocacy. The partnership on raising awareness on and localising the MDGs has great potential. Where as the Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Planning and National Development will focus on strengthening the district authorities to mainstream MDGs into their development processes, the CSOs will help to encourage the communities themselves to be more involved. In the process MDGs will be set under a national framework in the context of local reality, aspirations and priorities, which will make the achievement of MDGs more effective. Local actions are crucial drivers in achieving MDGs. By becoming accountable to their communities and citizens, local authorities and their partners contribute globally in achieving the MDGs. The GoK- CSO partnership on localisation of MDGs helps to raise awareness on MDGs and encourages communities to hold the Government of Kenya responsible for delivering results.
The post election crisis situation has put many programmes and activities under review. The grand coalition that President Kibaki and Honourable Raila Odinga have embarked on, must work for the benefit of all Kenyans. It is an opportunity to reflect, and address honestly and objectively all the underlying social, equity- or rather lack of it- and economic issues that pushed this country to near self-destruction.
In order to engage and empower the communities, their current concerns have to be taken into account. I understand that during the past two days of training you have discussed ways of advocating for reconciliation and passing on common messages of peace, in order to prevent further ethnic tensions, as part of the MDGs process. Peace is paramount in the economic empowerment of any people. The government has already set in motion efforts to help the affected people resettle - hopefully also to return - and recreate livelihoods. This is a huge challenge that must be undertaken with great sensitivity. In this endeavour, I can assure you of the continuous support of the people and the Government of Finland.
The Millennium Development Goals are a commitment made by the Government of Kenya to its citizens - a commitment that the Kenyan people can hold their government accountable for. It is, as well, a commitment by the Government of Finland and other industrialised countries to support developing countries in their efforts to achieve the MDGs. Millennium Development Goals cover areas of basic needs for human beings; such as food, water, education, health care and gender equality. They also cover crosscutting issues such as the environment and partnerships. The main aim of the Millennium Development Goals is eradicating poverty, by recognising the interdependence of growth, poverty reduction and sustainable development.
The goals themselves are not new, in fact they are considered the basic mandates of the public administration. The main difference is that these goals, which all UN Member States in the world are committed to, have specific targets and timeline for! The MDGs are interlinked and provide a platform for joining various levels together and following up on the commitments.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is important to note that the responsibility for the achievement of the MDGs is not only the government's, but is a joint effort. The MDGs can only be achieved if responsibility is shared by public and private sectors, civil society, faith-based organisations and bilateral and multilateral development partners. We all have a role to play. It is therefore crucial to carry out the work needed at all levels to help Kenya achieve these goals and better the lives of millions of Kenyans currently living in poverty The fact that almost half of Kenyans, ie. 18 million people, are live in extreme poverty - with less than a dollar a day - is a clear indication that our combined efforts have not been effective enough so far. It is important to appreciate the urgency and revise our strategies. There is need for pro-poor policies and it is essential that the MDGs are accepted as the basis for designing poverty reduction strategies and action plans, with a clear goal of improving equity in the society.
Without good governance and serious efforts to fight corruption MDGs will not be realised. Corruption and bad governance divert scarce public resources from the goal of fighting poverty. In fact, they entrench poverty for the majority of the population while enriching a few. We must redouble our efforts and commitment to fighting these vices, as well as contribute to improving the economic growth and ensure fair distribution of the benefits to the ordinary Kenyans. The MDGs provide an entry point and a common platform for all civil society actors to engage in constructive relationships and collaboration with the government, including the local authorities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The concept of localising MDGs through the Civil Society centres on discussing and deliberating on the global goals and national programs at a community level and to assessing what is relevant for the local context, setting priorities, and strategies of achieving them. The MDGs need to be interpreted and owned locally.
The CSOs have the network and capacity to work at the grass root level. By breaking down the perception of MDGs as technical, neutral and universal targets, CSOs can promote the possibilities of a unifying framework, within which individual communities can be empowered to set their own choices and priorities. The empowerment of communities at the local level to interpret and prioritise the MDGs will complement the work that the Ministry of Planning and National Development is engaging in with the district authorities in mainstreaming MDGs at the Millennium Districts.
The Government of Finland recognizes the important role of the civil society in furthering development in the society. The Embassy of Finland here in Nairobi supports the civil society organizations directly through what we call the local cooperation fund. The organizations we engage with are working towards the main objectives of Finnish development cooperation which are reducing poverty, combating threats to the environment and promoting social equality, democracy and human rights. The local cooperation fund has become an essential tool for the Embassy in facilitating the civil society to implement the development policies set by the Government of Finland. Currently we are supporting over 20 local organizations in Kenya. Under the current circumstances the fund has also been used to support organisations in their peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts to mitigate the effects of the post- election violence.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I conclude my remarks, I wish to acknowledge the effective leadership of the Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Planning and National Development and especially, Dr. Edward Sambili, in MDGs mainstreaming process. Let me also acknowledge the support that the UNDP continues to accord this process.
I wish to reiterate the commitment of the Government of Finland to support the Government of Kenya and other stakeholders in their single and collective efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015 and continue with poverty eradication efforts there after.
It is my sincere hope that the partnership launched today will be an opportunity for you, ladies and gentlemen, to increase the involvement of all Kenyans in the attempt to reach the Millennium Development Goals. And as a governmental partner in the MDG work, we encourage other donors to join the efforts by supporting this important work under the leadership of the Ministry of Planning and National Development. I feel that we all can also contribute to the wider peace process in Kenya by incorporating messages on reconciliation and peacebuilding to the rolling out of the MDGs awareness campaigns at the district level.