Kenya Should Effectively Align Its Development Agenda To The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs).


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs), referred to as the Agenda 2030 are target-based declarations adopted in early October, 2015. The Goals are expected to guide the United Nation’s development agenda up to 2030. They cover the entire spectrum of the global development agenda and were developed through a participatory process involving a wide range of stakeholders. The 17 goals and 169 targets replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were launched in 2000 and which were planned for achievement by 2015.

Sustainable Development Goal 1 targets to end poverty in all its forms by 2030. The Goal has adopted the extreme poverty measure of living on less than $1.25 a day. Goal 2 seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture while Goal 3 seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Goal 4 aims to promote quality education by ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. Gender equality is the theme for Goal 5 with the overall target of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is Goal 6 with a specific target of achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. Goal 7 aims at ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all while Goal 8 recognizes the nexus between economic growth and decent work and thus seeks to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Goal 9 is on industry, innovation and infrastructure where the focus is on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. The reduction of inequalities within and amongst countries is the theme of Goal 10 by ensuring equal opportunities for all.

Goal 11 aims at developing sustainable cities and communities by making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The management of consumption and production patterns for sustainability is the overall theme of Goal 12 while Goal 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through strengthening resilience and adaptive capacities in all countries and integrating climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning. Both Goals 14 and 15 focus on the environment with the former targeting the marine and oceans ecosystems while the latter targets terrestrial ecosystems. Specific targets under the two goals seek to reduce pollution, restore polluted environments and strengthen conservation. Goal 16 is on promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, provision of access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Finally, Goal 17 seeks to strengthen and revitalize global partnerships for sustainable development.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched in 2000 with a timeline of 2015. They comprised eight goals namely to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. The eight goals had 21 specific targets. In comparison therefore, the SDGs are more comprehensive than the MDGs in terms of thematic areas and targets. The SDGs have also focused more on elements of sustainability and incorporated emerging development issues on technology, conflicts and climate change.

Kenya’s progress in the achievement of MDGs has witnessed mixed fortunes over the Goals’ period. The proportion of people living below the national poverty line declined gradually from 52.3 per cent to 45.2 per cent but the country is unlikely to meet the target of 21.7 per cent by 2015. The country has realized a better performance on MDG 2, with an increase in Net Enrolment Ratio in Primary Education from 67.8 per cent to 95.9 per cent. Most of the indicators for targets under Goal 3 on gender equality and empowerment of women recorded improved performance throughout the MDGs period. The singular exception was the ratio of girls to boys in primary education which fluctuated slightly around 0.98.

All the indicators under Goal 4 recorded favorable performances during the MDGs period but showed little signs of meeting the 2015 targets. A similar performance trend was witnessed on Goal 5 with all indicators for improving maternal health showing favourable progress. Indicators on Goal 6 for HIV and AIDS showed mixed performance with significant favourble achievements on HIV prevalence among population aged 15-24 which dropped from 3.6 per cent in 2003 to 2.1 per cent in 2013 and proportion of population with advanced HIV infection with access to antiretroviral drugs which rose from 3.0 per cent to 42.5 per cent between the same period.

The Country realized positive outputs on MDG 7 with the proportion of land area covered by forests and proportion of marine areas protected meeting the 2015 MDGs target of 8.255 up from 8.244 in 2000. Indicators for trade and market access under Goal 8 showed mixed performance with proportion of total country imports into Kenya admitted duty free increasing from 90.56 per cent in 2000 to 97.88 per cent in 2011,with the 2015 target being 100 per cent.

The Kenya Vision 2030 is Kenya’s national development blueprint and aims at transforming Kenya into a globally competitive and prosperous nation, providing a high quality of life in a clean and secure environment. It further aims to transition the country to a newly-industrialized, middle level income country by 2030. The Vision is anchored on three interrelated pillars – Economic, Social and Political. The Economic Pillar targets sustained economic growth of 10 per cent per annum, the Social Pillar seeks to create a just and cohesive society enjoying equitable social development in a clean and secure environment while the Political Pillar’s aspiration is for the country to enjoy issue-based, people centered, results oriented and accountable democratic political system. The three pillars are underpinned by the Foundations for Socio-economic Transformation, which seek to provide the necessary support for the country’s social, economic and political development. Implementation of the Vision 2030 is being undertaken through five-year medium-term phases, each with a Medium Term Plan (MTP). The First MTP covered the 2008-2012 period while the Second MTP which is currently under implementation will covers the 2013-2017 period.

The launch and implementation of the SDGs will have a significant impact on Kenya’s development agenda. The sectors that are likely to be affected most by the SDGS which Kenya must reform/ restructure to align to the Agenda 2030 are Infrastructure and energy;Labour and social protection;Manufacturing;Environment and sanitation; and Governance, justice, law and order.

It is therefore imperative to align the country’s development agenda as envisioned in the Kenya Vision 2030 to the SDGs.In my opinion, this will require several initiatives, key amongst them being reviewing and harmonizing the comprehensive list of targets for the MDGs with the country’s National Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation System (NIMES);reviewing the country’s resource allocation framework to align it with priorities of the SDGs including emerging areas; undertaking the necessary policy, legal and institutional reforms to anchor key provisions within the SDGs’ targets; and the establishment of an institutional framework for monitoring and reporting Kenya’s progress in the achievement of the SDGs.

The Writer is a Management Consultant based in Nairobi.

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