16 April 2010

Going Local to Achieve the MDGs – Stories from Eight Countries

On March 23, 2010, SNV Netherlands Development Organization and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) produced a joint publication describing how promoting local ownership, understanding local needs and fostering collaboration at the local level can facilitate real MDG progress. By producing the report and presenting country/local-specific successful strategies and lessons learned, the SNV and UNDP hope to promote the importance of sharing to facilitate better understanding and development.

Entitled “Going Local to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals – Stories from Eight Countries,” the report describes experiences of implementing the SNV-UNDP MDG localization initiative in Albania, Benin, Guinea Bissau, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Niger, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam to highlight the central role that poor and vulnerable groups must be afforded in planning, implementing and monitoring the Millennium Development Goals.

While initiatives at the national level are important for making progress, the report argues for a better understanding and greater support of ‘localizing the MDGs’ – “designing (or adjusting) local development strategies to achieve locally adapted MDG targets.” Going Local to Achieve the MDGs describes four broad factors that are crucial for successful MDG localization efforts.

-  Involvement of non-state actors

-  Capacity at the local level

-  Coordination across policies, and coherence between actors

-  Availability of financial resources

Non-state actors play an important role in bringing attention to specific issues and government accountability. Involving non-state actors in planning of development strategies also promises sustainable and local responses that reflect citizen-led initiative and demands. In order to localize the MDGs and ensure progress, local level capacities must be adequate. The report notes, that on top of financial capacity, well-functioning organizations and human resources are necessary preconditions for successful implementation of development strategies.

Going Local to Achieve the MDGs observes that effective implementation of development policies requires coordination and coherence between all stake-holders – levels of government, civil society and private sector. Harmonizing strategies and efforts to promote development is critical to achieving the MDGs. Many developing countries use Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) as a tool to encourage coherence in development strategies. The report further emphasizes the importance of making available national financial resources to local governing structures. This so-called ‘financial decentralization’ can allow local authorities to implement policies that respond to local needs and priorities, and thus support a more sustainable and legitimate development.

The final section of the report summarizes key findings and provides conclusions and recommendations for effectively localizing the MDGs. The country case-studies introduced in the report show that MDG localization improves awareness and ownership of the Goals, and subsequently ensures that local actors, state and non-state alike, identify with and take responsibility for achieving the MDGs. It is therefore critical, the report notes, that awareness-raising follows a well-defined strategy that clearly identifies the target audience, expected outcomes and steps forward.

Going Local to Achieve the MDGs further emphasizes that the role of quick wins should not be underestimated. While it is necessary to remain focused on the long-term, quick wins can effectively convince stakeholders that their efforts are relevant and that MDG progress can become a reality. MDG localization is also closely linked to ownership at the national level, coherent approach to financial challenges, and involvement of the private sector.

“To progress towards the MDGs, country efforts must reflect and engage with local realities. The collaboration between SNV and UNDP on MDG localization has reconfirmed the critical importance of the participation of poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups in planning, implementation and monitoring of MDGs. Therefore, in the coming years such opportunities should be pursued, and expanded upon,” the report concludes.

To access the full report in English, please [click here]

To view the French version of the report, please [click here]

The letter that accompanied the distribution of hard copies of the publication can be accessed by [clicking here]

Below, please find a short video on how the SNV-UNDP partnership was implemented in Niger.

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