THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS, HUNGER AND                         POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN NIGERIA                       ...
INTRODUCTION       The MDGs originated from the Millennium Declaration produced by the United Nations.The Declaration asse...
However, the monumental increase in the level of poverty has made the socio-economiclandscape frail and fragile. Today, Ni...
current terminology of poverty. Is poverty simply about the level of income obtained byhouseholds or individuals? Is it ab...
reached a level of providing for himself the basic necessities of life, but he is unable to do so andlives on to depend on...
To be poor is to be hungry, to lack shelter and clothing; to be sick and not cared f be illiterate andnot schooled (World ...
are what 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations agreed toachieve by the year 2015 (h...
Food is an important aspect of life in any culture. Whether we have very little or a largeamount of food available to us, ...
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CENTRE FOR ADVANCED ARTS, SCIENCE, SOCIAL AND MANAGEMENT SCIENCE RESEARCH

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CENTRE FOR ADVANCED ARTS, SCIENCE, SOCIAL AND MANAGEMENT SCIENCE RESEARCH

VOL.2, NO 2

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CENTRE FOR ADVANCED ARTS, SCIENCE, SOCIAL AND MANAGEMENT SCIENCE RESEARCH

  1. 1. THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS, HUNGER AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN NIGERIA Dr (Mrs) Rose N. Nwankwo Department Of Public Administration, Federal Polytechnic, Oko Anambra State- Nigeria Email: rosenwankwo@gmail.comAbstractDue to precarious socio-economic ambience and the global publicity it has generated, sub-Saharan Africa has become synonymous with poverty, and Nigeria is not an exception. Althoughseveral ideas have been generated domestically to address the scourge but the persistence ofpoverty in large scale explains the inherent limitations in government interventionist measures.Consequent upon this, the inauguration of the MDGs, which represents an attempt at combatingpoverty and hunger through global partnership for development, appears to constitute the key toNigeria’s escape from poverty trap. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are targeted ateradicating extreme hunger and poverty in the 189 member countries of the United Nations(UN). It is one of the global efforts aimed at enhancing the living standard of man especially inthe world’s poorest countries. They are eight in number, hoped to be achieved by the year 2015.Among the eight goals is that of eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. This is the focus ofthis paper. The paper examined how eradication of extreme poverty and hunger will lead to theachievement of the entire millennium development goals. The paper suggests, amongst othersthat education can be used as a tool in achieving the eradication of extreme poverty and hungerin Nigeria if adequate planning and policy geared towards the educational sector is made. Weequally recommend, amongst others that the country must make suitable reforms backed with thepolitical will to catalyze them in the face of prevailing circumstances. We also need to adoptparticipatory reform instruments. In this way, making reforms flexible and elastic enough toaccommodate the vital contributions of the different sectors of the State, will promote positivereform outcomes.Keywords: Millennium Development Goals, Education, Hunger and Poverty Alleviation 1
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION The MDGs originated from the Millennium Declaration produced by the United Nations.The Declaration asserts that every individual has the right to dignity, freedom, equality, a basicstandard of living that includes freedom from hunger and violence, and encourages tolerance andsolidarity (Deneulin, Séverine, and Shahani, 2009). The MDGs were made to operationalizethese ideas by setting targets and indicators for poverty reduction in order to achieve the rightsset forth in the Declaration on a set fifteen-year timeline. The Millennium Summit Declarationwas, however, only part of the origins of the MDGs. It came about from not just the UN but alsothe Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and theInternational Monetary Fund. The setting came about through a series of UN-led conferences inthe 1990s focusing on issues such as children, nutrition, human rights, women and others. TheOECD criticized major donors for reducing their levels of Official Development Assistance(ODA). With the onset of the UNs 50th anniversary, then UN Secretary General Kofi Annansaw the need to address the range of development issues. This led to his report titled, we thePeoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century which led to the MillenniumDeclaration. By this time, the OECD had already formed its International Development Goals(IDGs) and it was combined with the UNs efforts in the World Banks 2001 meeting to form theMDGs ( Hulme, and Scott, 2010). The poverty situation in Nigeria is galloping. Despite several attempts by successivegovernments to ameliorate the scourge, Eze (2009, 447) explains that the level of poverty isgeometrically increasing (Okpe and Abu 2009,205). Poverty is deep and pervasive, with about70 percent of the population living in absolute poverty (Okonjo-Iweala, Soludo and Muhtar2003,1; the Punch Newspaper 2009,14). The ballooning poverty situation notwithstanding,Nigeria is blessed with abundant resources. Chukwuemeka (2009,405) observes that the countryis blessed with natural and human resources, but in the first four decades of its independence, thepotentials remained largely untapped and even mismanaged (Omotola 2008,497). Putting theproblem in proper perspective, Nwaobi (2003, 5) asserts that Nigeria presents a paradox. Thecountry is rich but the people are poor. Given this condition, Nigeria should rank among therichest countries that should not suffer poverty entrapment. 2
  3. 3. However, the monumental increase in the level of poverty has made the socio-economiclandscape frail and fragile. Today, Nigeria is ranked among the poorest countries in the world.The fight against poverty has been a central plank of development planning since independencein 1960 and about fifteen ministries, fourteen specialized agencies, and nineteen donor agenciesand non-governmental organizations have been involved in the decades of this crusade but about70 percent of Nigerians still live in poverty (Soludo 2003,27). Observers have unanimouslyagreed that successive government’s interventions have failed to achieve the objectives for whichthey were established (Ovwasa 2000, 73; Adesopo 2008, 219-222; Omotola 2008,505-512). Thefailure to effectively combat the problem has largely been blamed on infrastructural decay,endemic corruption, and poor governance and accountability (Okonjo-Iweala, Soludo andMuhtar 2003, 1). However, the Millennium Development Goals is one of the global efforts towardsenhancing the living standard of man. The aim is to improve the social and economic conditionsin the world’s poorest countries through reduction of extreme poverty and hunger, childmortality rates, achieving universal primary education, improvement of maternal health, ensuringenvironmental sustainability, combating H1V-A1DS, malaria and other diseases, promotion ofgender equality and empowerment of women, besides developing a global partnership fordevelopment. This paper focuses on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger as a meanstowards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria. Poverty and hunger areserious threats to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Unless poverty and hunger areeradicated, efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals will be seriouslyimpeded and hampered.Conceptualizing Poverty There is no one-size-fits-all definition of poverty. This is obviously because theconcept is multi-dimensional in nature and can be approached from different perspectives. As aresult, Eze (2009, 446) submits that there is a plethora of literature on the concept of poverty.Quite a number of works have been done on the concept of poverty but rather than reaching aconsensus on its meaning, scholarly works have proliferated alternative poverty concepts andindicators. This condition explains the complexity involved in the conceptual analysis anddissection of poverty. Maxwell (1992, 2) asks a number of agitating questions bordering on the 3
  4. 4. current terminology of poverty. Is poverty simply about the level of income obtained byhouseholds or individuals? Is it about lack of access to social services? Or is it more correctlyunderstood as the inability to participate in society economically, socially, culturally andpolitically? According to Maxwell, the posers above reflect the complexity of measurementwhich mirrors the complexity of definition, and the complexity increases where participatorymethods are used and people define their own indicators of poverty. However, beyond the complexities, the posers represent the different dimensions ofpoverty from income and consumption poverty to vulnerability, deprivation, powerlessness andisolation. The complexities above notwithstanding, different ideas have been expressed on theconcept of poverty. The concept has been defined in absolute sense. The World Bank (2000)defines absolute poverty as ‘a condition of life degraded by diseases, deprivation and squalor.Again, in relative sense, poverty implies relative deprivation (Bradshaw 2006, 4). However,Rocha (1998, 1) notes that the persistence of chronic deprivation of basic needs nowadays makesabsolute poverty the obvious priority in terms of definition, measurement and political actionfrom the international point of view. Gore (2002, 6) explains the concept of ‘all-pervasive’poverty. According to him, poverty is all-pervasive where the majority of the population lives ator below income levels sufficient to meet their basic needs, and the available resources evenwhere equally distributed, are barely sufficient to meet the basic needs of the population. Gorereiterates further that pervasive poverty leads to environmental degradation, as people have to eatinto the environmental capital stock to survive. When this happens, the productivity of key assetson which livelihood depends is greatly undermined. Poverty is a state in which one is incapable of providing the basic needs of life for oneself.Harry in Anyanwu (2004) defined poverty as a situation where the resources of individualfamilies are inadequate to provide socially acceptable standard of living. For Aluko (1975)poverty refers to lack of command over basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Poverty isa situation in an economy where there is inadequate level of income and consumption, thusresulting to insufficient basic necessities of life such as health-care, unemployment, malnutrition,sickness, illiteracy, low status of women etc. Arinze in Nnaa (2006) described poverty as lack ofincome needed to acquire the minimum necessities of life. It is a state in which one is incapableof providing the basic needs of life for oneself. A state of poverty sets in when an individual has 4
  5. 5. reached a level of providing for himself the basic necessities of life, but he is unable to do so andlives on to depend on some other people. Poverty gives rise to physical deprivation, hunger,powerlessness, voicelessness and dependency. Okorie (2003) opined that poverty, humansuffering and misery become pervasive when all the means of human survival cannot beachieved to a considerable extent. Poverty has adverse consequences on man such as insecurity,shame, sense of hopelessness, humiliation and marginalization (Agwagah, 2002). It leads tostarvation, frustration and even death as the individual affected lacks the means to satisfy thebasic needs such as food, shelter, education, health, nutrition etc. Development Assistance Committee (DAC) (2001) posits that povertyencompasses different dimensions of deprivation that relate to human capabilities includingconsumption and food security, health, education, rights, voice, security, dignity and decentwork. Nwaobi (2003, 3) also identifies the dimensions highlighted by poor people to include lackof income and assets to attain basic necessities (food, shelter, clothing and acceptable levels ofhealth and education), sense of voicelessness and powerlessness in the institutions of the stateand society; and vulnerability to adverse shocks. Poverty is a ‘condition of human existencewhere resources for meeting basic human needs are extremely limited or inaccessible (Mumaw,1996). Basically, the different approaches to poverty comprises deprivation, which focuses on thenon-fulfillment of basic material or biological needs including such elements as lack ofautonomy, powerlessness, and lack of dignity; vulnerability and its relationship to poverty;inequality which has emerged as a central concern; and the violation of basic human rights(Shaffer 2001, 4). The juxtaposition of the conceptual analysis above and the practical reality inNigeria reveal that there is high-level mass and pervasive poverty in the country. This explainswhy the attainment of the MDGs and poverty reduction in Nigeria require massive efforts fromgovernments at all levels and other stakeholders including the international donors. Poverty refers to a condition where a person or group of persons are unable to satisfytheir most basic and elementary requirements for human survival in terms of food, clothing,shelter, health, transport, education and recreation. People hit by poverty live in intolerablecircumstances in which starvation remains a constant threat, sickness becomes a familiarcompanion while oppression becomes a fact of life. It is pronounced deprivation in well being. 5
  6. 6. To be poor is to be hungry, to lack shelter and clothing; to be sick and not cared f be illiterate andnot schooled (World Bank, 2001).The Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals thatall 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed toachieve by the year 2015. Members of the United Nations came together in September, 2000, insearch of ways and means towards amelioration of condition of living of man through fosteringof accelerated development. The United Nations summit consequently went ahead to set what itrefers to as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Millennium Development Goalswhich are eight in number were evolved from the agreement and resolutions of the worldconferences organized by the United Nations a decade earlier. These eight goals include: i. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger ii. Achieving universal primary education iii. Promoting gender equality and empowerment of women. iv. Reduction of child mortality v. Improving maternal health vi. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseasesvii. Ensuring environmental sustainabilityviii. Developing global partnership for development.Each of the goals has specific stated targets and dates for achieving those targets. To accelerateprogress, the G8 Finance Ministers agreed in June 2005 to provide enough funds to the WorldBank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the African Development Bank (ADB) tocancel an additional $40–55 billion debt owed by members of the Heavily Indebted PoorCountries (HIPC) to allow impoverished countries to re-channel the resources saved from theforgiven debt to social programs for improving health and education and for alleviating poverty.Each goal has indicators for measuring achievement. The MDGS aim at spurring developmentby improving social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries. The eight goals 6
  7. 7. are what 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations agreed toachieve by the year 2015 (http: /en./wikipedia.org/wiki/ Millennium Development Goals).Having explained what poverty is, the likely question at this point is ‘show can poverty beeradicated among Nigerians as a means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals? Thesimple answer is that Nigerians should be empowered with skills needed for useful life in thesociety, skills that are saleable and utilitarian in nature.Skill is an art which can be developed with training and practice. A skilful man is a man havingenough ability, experience and knowledge to be able to do something well (Hornby, 1974).Anindividual gives his skill in exchange for money. The salaries and stipends received by workersare indeed the exchange for the skill demonstrated at work place. The money so earned enablesindividuals to establish and stabilize their stay and existence in the society. The skills acquiredby citizens put together are the wealth of the nation. An individual without skill has nothing tosell to make money. Lack of skill impoverishes the citizens and a nation. The saleable skillacquired enables an individual to obtain other needs such as food, clothing and shelter as well asmaintain his ego (Uzoagulu, 2009)An individual without saleable and employable skill wallows in despondency because he hasnothing for sale; nothing to contribute to the society. The basis for skill acquisition anddevelopment is that man must exist and survive and conquer his environment and circumstances.He achieves this by being skilful enough to subdue various life challenges which continuouslypresent themselves to him. In fact, the nature and meaning of existence find fulfillment throughskill acquisition and development. Nigerians should be assisted to acquire and develop saleableskills that will enable them stabilize their existence in the society and instill in them theconfidence that they have something to offer as well as accepting themselves as worth living. Every living being needs food for survival. Therefore, for a man to survive, he mustsearch for food to eat. Searching food to eat by man is in response to a drive which is an arousalstate that occurs because of a physiological need. A need is a deprivation that energizes the driveto eliminate or reduce deprivation. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs our main needs satisfied inthis sequence: physiological (food), safety, and belongingness, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic andactualization. 7
  8. 8. Food is an important aspect of life in any culture. Whether we have very little or a largeamount of food available to us, hunger influences our behavior. It can be asserted that thebehavior of every Nigerian is influenced by hunger which is caused by poverty. Povertymanifests itself in different ways among members of the society. It cripples man and makes himlook stupid.Eradicating Poverty in Nigeria One of the surest ways of eradicating poverty, hunger and other human deprivations isthrough human resource capacity building. As Okonkwo (2009) puts it, there is no wayeradication of poverty and hunger can be realized outside the competencies and comparativeedges of human capital resources. Commenting on the possibility of Nigeria realizing theMillennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015, Nwokeoma (2009) opined that the idea ofreeling out statistics of funds released by the Nigerian government when there is nothing onground to show for such expenditure is not a sure way of achieving the MDGS. Rather, the fundsshould be directed on human development, especially the youths. Almost a decade ago, Nigeriaarticulated a programme called the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy(NEEDS) at national level with the intent of achieving the MDGS by 2015. Later the programmewas extended to State levels as State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy(SEEDS) while .at the local government level, it came under the name, Local EconomicEmpowerment and Development Strategy (LEEDS). Since this programme was launched,though very laudable, many Nigerians are yet to feel the impact of the achievement of the goals.Rather, the problems were seen increasing with gaps between the “haves and have-nots”widening. Abani, lgbuzor & Moru (2005), noted that despite the great natural wealth, Nigeria isstill poor and social development is limited. Nigeria as a nation is poor because many Nigeriansare poor inspite of abundance of natural resources which the creator has bequeathed to her. Poverty and hunger can be eradicated or reduced among Nigerians through equippingthem with saleable skills. Uzoagulu (2009) believes eradication of poverty and hunger amongNigerians can be achieved through imparting to them employable and saleable skills needed inthe economy. He went further and opined that a large chunk of the population does not desire to 8

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