CAMBODIA is not likely to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for education, the environment and maternal mortality, a consultant who recently conducted an assessment of the effort for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said Monday.
Sherif Rushdy, director of the consulting firm Principles in Action, drew on the most recent available data in producing his MDG progress report, which is currently in draft form. He presented key findings during a seminar on the national commune database at the Phnom Penh Hotel.
“On three of the Millennium Development Goals there is a red light – warning, warning, warning – Cambodia is not going to meet those goals,” he said.
The global MDGs were established in 2000, and Cambodia adopted localised versions in 2003.
The Cambodian version of the education goal – which, unlike the global goal, calls for universal enrolment at the lower secondary level by 2015 – was unrealistic, Rushdy said, citing data from 2008 and 2009 that placed lower secondary enrolment at just over 30 percent.
“The goal [of 100 percent enrolment] was far too ambitious in terms of lower secondary education, but it is probably achievable in primary education,” he said.
Rushdy said he only recently downgraded his prediction for the environment goal in light of census data indicating little progress in decreasing fuel-wood dependency. Among other targets, the goal calls for Cambodia to maintain its baseline forest coverage rate of 60 percent, a figure that had dropped by 3.4 percent as of 2006.
The most recent maternal mortality data continues a string of negative reports: Though a slight improvement from 2005, the figure of 461 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births remains far above the 2010 interim target of 243.
Minister of Health Mam Bunheng acknowledged that the maternal health situation had not improved much, though he pointed to gains in other areas, including combating HIV/AIDS and reducing child mortality.
Education Minister Im Sethy and Environment Minister Mok Mareth could not be reached for comment.
Rushdy said Cambodia had a chance to meet the poverty and gender-equality MDGs, and was well-positioned to meet those pertaining to demining, child mortality and HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.