SAUDI ARABIA- A COUNTRY WHICH HAS CONSIDERED TO WORK ON THE DEVELOPEMENT OF ITS UNNOTICED UNDEVELOPED AREAS
(P.S. I have reffered to the MDG reports of Saudi Arabia of 2009, 2010 & 2011, UNDP Report of 2011 Ministry of Economy and Planning , and also interviwed Mr. Diago who worked in this country for four years)
As mentioned in the previous two blogs relating to the MDG’sof Kuwait and Russia, Saudi Arabia is also one of the countries which have accepted the aim of achieving the 8 Millennium Development goals from the UN IN 2000. Saudi Arabia too has agreed to fulfil its goals by the year 2015.
Just like Kuwait and Russia, even though Saudi Arabia has set up the gaols by the MDG, it has also paid keen attention on the unnoticed interior problems of its nation. The list and categories of MDG of Saudi Arabia ,in specific, are as follows:
A remarkable initiative taken up by Saudi Arabia is that besides these 8 MDG’S i.e.:
*Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
The targets are:
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
When the above targets are taken into consideration, the UNDP Report of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia too mentioned and observed that In 2004, the percentage of families living under extreme poverty was 1.63% , but this kingdom reduced the poverty to 0.8 in 2008. It also pointed out that the percentage of underweight children u 5 years of age decreased was*6.4% in 2006 and simultaneously boiled down 5.3% in 2010. This in fact can be called an appreciable initiative taken up by this country towards the very first goal.
When Mr Diago, who has a working experience in Saudi Arabia for four years, was questioned on poverty, He mentioned that even today there are beggars seen on the streets of Saudi Arabia wearing the ‘Abayan’. The question that arises here is that if poverty is taken care of, then why is begging on the streets still existing? Shouldn’t there be a check on this aspect of poverty as well?
*Achieve universal primary education.
The target under this goal for this country is:
Ensure that, by 2015, all children, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
Saudi Arabia is also focusing on this goal as the Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 to grade 5 was 74.5% in 1990 and later it increased to 98.30% in 2010. This actually marks this country’s dedication towards education, as the literacy rate of 15-24 year olds has gone up remarkably from 85.9% in 1990 to 98% in 2010. As the UNDP hasn’t mentioned the ratio of higher education, the question that rises is that isn’t this country taking up initiatives towards career development education for its youth?
*Promote gender equality and empower women.
The target under this goal for this country is:
Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
In Saudi Arabia, Girls’ education only started in the 60s. Later, the 2007 UNDP report of this country indicated that the ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and higher education rose from 85.1 in 1990 to 99.1 in 2010. Moreover, Ratio of literate women &men, 15–24 year olds was 73.7 in 1990 and became 98.6 in 2010. Women earned wages in the non-agricultural sector and this led to the rise in ratio from 17.9 in 1990 and became14.2 in 2009.
When Mr Diago was questioned regarding this aspect, he mentioned that there was a vast difference in the wages paid to women and men in Saudi Arabia even though both were employed in the same department. The question that rises from this is that what kind of gender equality exists in the wage distribution in multi- national companies of Saudi Arabia? The distinction in unequal distribution of wages questions the aspect of empowerment of women in the multi-national sector.
*Reduce child mortality rate.
The target of Saudi Arabia under this goal is:
Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five
By 2015, reduce to one quarter the maternal mortality ratio during births.
With respect to the fourth goal on reducing child mortality rate, Saudi Arabia has achieved the reduction of its under-five mortality rate that resulted in the declined from 34 per thousand live births in 1990 to 16.9 per thousand live births in 2010. The UNDP also notified that the proportion of 1year-old children immunized against measles grew from 88.2% in 1990 to 98.2 in 2010.
*Improve reproductive health (maternal health).
The target under this goal is:
Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health.
Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.
According to 2009 MDGs report, the maternal mortality rate used to be 48 per 100,000 live births in 1990. But this report analysed that it dropped to 14 per 100,000 live births in 2010. Even the proportion of births attended by skilled health professionals increased from 88% in 1990 to 97% in 2010. If one takes into consideration the MDG report of 2009, it can be justified that this country has almost achieved this goal.
*Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
The target set by this country under this goal is:
Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
According to the 2009 MDG report, the number of HIV/AIDS reported cases was 16,334 ca in 2010. As for Malaria, its incidence has decreased substantially from 125 cases per 100,000 people in 1990 to 0.20 per 100,000 people in 2010. Similarly, it has achieved remarkable success with Tuberculosis incidence falling from 18.6 cases per 100,000 populations in 1990 to 11.4 in 2010.
Through critical analysis, one can conclude that this goal is achieved by this country only in terms of combating Malaria and TB but has to still strive towards decrease in HIV/ AIDS.
When Mr Diago was questioned of how far the awareness of HIV takes place in Saudi Arabia, he said that there’s not much open discussion regarding this concept of Aids. Through this, one can blame the slow reduction of aids might be due to no discussion done about HIV which in a way leads to unawareness.
*Ensure environmental sustainability.
Saudi Arabia set 3 targets under this goal:
Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020.
The MDGs report clearly stated that the areas protected to maintain biological diversity to surface areas in Saudi Arabia increased from 3.3% in 1990 to 4.26% in 2010. The proportion of urban and rural population with sustainable access to safe drinking water through water distribution system and water tanker services increased from 75% in 1990 to 96% in 2010.
* Develop a global partnership for development.
The unique targets set under this goal was :
- Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory. Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction—nationally and internationally.
- Address the least developed countries’ special needs which would include tariff- and quota-free access for their exports; enhanced debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction.
- Address the special needs of landlocked and Small Island developing States.
- Deal comprehensively with developing countries’ debt problems through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term.
- In cooperation with the developing countries, develop decent and productive work for youth.
- In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
- In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies—especially information and communications technologies
According to the UNDP, in 2010, there were 451 agreements for funding 451 development projects and development programs, with a value of SR 31 billion. 75 developing countries benefited from this aid provided by Saudi Arabia.
There are even more four goals set up by Saudi Arabia itself as noted down by the UNDP Report of 2011 Ministry of Economy and Planning , they are as follows:
1. Development of the IT environment, making it possible to speed up achievement of the MDGs, through considerable expansion of databases.
2. Integration of the MDGs into sustainable development, as decided by the development plans in general and the Eigth and Ninth Development Plans in particular.
3. Persistent efforts to achieve, even surpass, the MDGs ahead of the schedule set by the UN.
4. The considerable momentum in development assistance extended by the Kingdom to support MDGs implementation in developing countries.
In short, by critical reasoning of the above MDG analysis of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it can be observed that this country is taking equal efforts to reach a level expected by the UN by 2015.
BY NICOLE FERNANDES
3744, TYBMM, SOPHIA COLLEGE