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UN Millennium Development Goals

The United Nations has set 8 Millennium Developments Goals with an achievement deadline of 2015.

Listed below are the 8 Millennium Development Goals:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

"The mother of revolution and crime is poverty" - Aristotle

a. Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day.

  • In Sri Lanka, in 2002, 2 out of every 8 people were below the poverty line (poverty line = Rs 2,240 per month). By the year 2015, Sri Lanka has to reduce this to one out of every 8 people.
  • The 'support-led strategy that is being followed by the government has brought about some success, but not enough to make the 2015 target.
  • One of the Foundation's objectives is to enhance the knowledge and understanding of Sri Lankans in the economic, political, educational, cultural, social and aesthetic fields.
  • The Saumyamoorthi Thondaman Memorial Foundation works closely with the low income families to help improve basic standard of living.
  • The Foundation educates families and individuals on financial matters, hygiene, safe drinking water etc. The Foundation further assists individuals in developing their skills, thereby empowering them to improve their financial standing.
  • It has implemented programmes to educate individuals on various subjects ranging from e-learning to social, political and aesthetic fields.
  • It will also be implementing the community development function, as per the 3-year community development plan, prepared by the Ceylon Workers Congress.
  • The Foundation works at the community level in promoting this goal.

b. Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

  • Today, in Sri Lanka only 3 out of every 10 children under the age of 5 are underweight. The decline in the number of underweight children since the year 1993 is a good indicator that Sri Lanka is on its way to achieving this target by the year 2015.

c. As per the Foundation's objective to improve the living conditions of the people, who are economically and socially disadvantaged, the Foundation, works toward making improvements to their shelter and provides the required infrastructure facilities.

  • The Foundation has been particularly active in working towards empowering individuals to earn fair wages and have basic facilities such as food, clean water and shelter.
  • The Foundation along with the Praja Shakti programme plan to establish community service centers across 450 estates around the country at a cost of Rs. 200 Million.
  • The Vanaraja centre was inaugurated under the Praja Shakti programme for the estate workers' development and foray into new fields.
  • The Foundation builds relationships with like-minded organizations to further their goals throughout the nation.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education.

Education: a debt due from present to future generations." - George Peabody

Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling

As per this goal, the UN aims to ensure that every girl and boy should be given the opportunity to enroll in an educational facility and complete primary school education.

Education has been considered a basic right in Sri Lanka since 1993. In comparison to the South Asian percentage of enrolments, Sri Lanka ranks much higher with net enrolments at 97%.

The main targets that Sri Lanka needs to achieve to achieve this goal are:

1. Ensure that all children in a household attend and complete primary school

2. Low income families are able to afford basic education for their children.

  • The goal of promoting religions, educational, vocational, social, political, economic, aesthetic and physical development of Sri Lankans is the Foundation's effort to begin instilling these qualities at a young age through educational institutions.
  • The Foundation has made a provision in its objectives to provide infrastructure to enhance the development of Sri Lankans and thereby implements noteworthy programmes to provide educational facilities to both boys and girls alike.
  • Apart from providing children the opportunity to attain educational qualifications, the Foundation also recruited teachers to educate plantation workers on the estates.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women.

"Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance". - Kofi Annan

Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015

"I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves". ~Mary Wollstonecraft

Gender Equality simply means that women receive the same rights and privileges as their counterparts. Women should be entitled to the same educational and professional opportunities, control over resources and equal representation in public and political life.

Right to equality is one of Sri Lanka's fundamental rights.

Sri Lanka has achieved the target of equal number of boys and girls in primary and secondary educational institutions. Sri Lanka is yet to meet the target of increased number of women and men in white collar jobs and public administration and escalating the participation pf women in politics.

Under the Praja Shakti programme, the Thondaman Foundation works towards the empowerment of the women of Sri Lanka, with the support of the Sri Lankan government. The Foundation works with the women at a personal level and educates them about financial planning, banking etc., and exposing them to the various opportunities of taking better control of their lives and families.

The Foundation volunteers also educate and empower women with knowledge on issues like family planning, hygiene, sanitation, safe drinking water etc.

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality.

"Well being of the society is linked to safe mothers and childhood." - Honourable Anbumani Ramadoss

Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five.

Statistics suggest that every year approximately 11 million children die before their 5th birthday. These children mainly hail from below the poverty line in developing countries and die of health ailments that could have been easily treated.

Sri Lanka's target by 2015:

Under 5 - reduce child mortality to 12 per every 1000 live births and Infants - reduce infant mortality rate to 12.8 per every 1000 live births Measles - 99% infants must be immunized against measles.

Lack of information is one of the main reasons behind this issue. Most families, living below the poverty line are not aware of the facilities they can take advantage of, under the various programmes and health care facilities that the government and NGOs provide.

There is a dire need to start creating awareness at the ground level. The Thondaman Foundation has realized the need for this and begins work on the plantation estates, where most of the workers, are illiterate and ignorant.

The Foundation has recruited many teachers to educate families on issues such as basic health, maternal health, free & subsidized medical care facilities for immunizations and ongoing care.

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

"Life is not merely to be alive, but to be well". ~ Marcus Valerius Martial

Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.

Maternal Mortality in Sri Lanka is the lowest, at 27 per every 100,000 (2002), in South Asia.

Most women in the low income group are ignorant and are not informed about maintaining good health and availing facilities provided by various organizations.

The Thondaman Foundation, under its Praja Shakti programme, introduces women to the subject of family planning, maternal health and child health.

The volunteers specifically educate women on looking after themselves through the course of their pregnancy and make them aware of nutrition, physical condition, foetal development etc.

The Foundation along with the Sri Lankan Government also works toward training midwives, making healthcare facilities accessible and affordable and equipping these facilities with skilled health care professionals.

The foundation also aims to focus on post-natal care and educate families on raising healthy children.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.

"Health is worth more than learning". - Thomas Jefferson

Some of the biggest killers in the world are HIV/AIDS & Malaria. According to UNAIDS, AIDS has taken the lives of 35 million people by January 2006. Malaria takes about 1 million lives every year, globally. And tuberculosis, which was almost eradicated, takes an astonishing 1.7 million lives every year. These diseases mostly affect the low income people in the developing nations.

a. Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.

  • Initially people were ignorant about HIV & AIDS. Now many governments and organizations, including the Thondaman Foundation are actively creating awareness among people on HIV & AIDS. This is encouraging more and more people to report the disease and take treatment.
  • Sri Lanka reports 3500 people living with HIV, indicating that there is low rate of infected people.
  • In the case of AIDS, 131 people have died due to AIDS in the year 2004. There is a potential for the disease to spread. It is important for the country to prevent the spread, by educating people on the symptoms of the disease and encouraging them to report it and seek medical help.
  • The Thondaman Foundation conducts awareness programmes on a regular basis to educate communities on HIV/AIDS and identifying symptoms.

b. Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.

  • Diseases like Malaria are directly related to the living conditions.
  • Working together is an important aspect of educating people on prevention of these diseases.
  • The Thondaman Foundation actively, works with the communities in improving their living conditions and educating them about maintaining hygienic surroundings.

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability.

"To waste, to destroy, our natural resources,
To skin and exhaust the land instead of
Using it so as to increase its usefulness,
Will result in undermining in the days of our children
The very prosperity which we ought by right to
Hand down to them emplified".
                     - Theodore Roosevelt

a. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.

  • Sri Lanka's natural resources have depreciated from 80% in 1881 to 24% in 1990. The forest area has further decreased by 6% from 1991 - 2001.
  • Sri Lanka's target is to reduce the rate and finally halt deforestation of the land. The nation together also needs to protect the National wildlife and put strict checks on pollution and toxic gas emissions.

b. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

  • The ratio of population that receives piped water 75% of urban population as opposed to 14% of the rural population.
  • Also, sanitation services have increased by 4.8% between 1993 & 2000. 93% of the population is benefited with this increase in sanitation services.
  • Hygiene begins at home, and the Thondaman Foundation, works with the community to raise hygiene levels at the most basic level and further the goals from there.

c. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020

  • The slum population in Colombo has increased from 273,000 in the 90s to 780,000 in 2000. The number of people per square kilometer is an astounding 3,213 person.
  • These slums are not sanitized and are over crowded.
  • The Thondaman Foundation through their youth empowerment programmes encourages the younger generation to education and maintaining hygienic surrounding in slums, thereby raising the standard of their living and preventing most diseases.

Goal 8: Develop a Global partnership for development.

By virtue of exchange, one man's prosperity is beneficial to all others. - Fredric Bastiat

a. 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

b. Address the least developed countries' special needs. This includes 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

c. Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States

d. Deal comprehensively with developing countries' debt problems through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term

e. In cooperation with the developing countries, develop decent and productive work for youth

f. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries

g. In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies- especially information and communications technologies

Information and communication Technology have become a way of life in the recent past. Unfortunately, valuable technology and communication systems have not been introduced around the entire nation.