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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Arming Ourselves for the Real War of the Millennium

Editorial for the upcoming issue of LINK:

When you hear the words "Millennium Development Goal," you think of lofty projects that would take a thousand years to achieve. But when the UN countries set the MDGs, they were trying to think of all of us right here... right now...

To dramatize the immediacy of attaining the MDGs, the US-based organization known as Make Poverty History contracted a major advertising company to come up with print ads for the American consumers, the ones who don't care about these MDGs.

One of the ads has a half-full garbage receptacle with the words: "This bin swallows up more calories than a Nigerian child gets in a single week." and then on smaller print below is written: "Millennium Goal # 4: To cut the death rate among children by 65%." Another has a toilet bowl with the words above it: "This toilet consumes more drinking water in a single flush than someone from Burkina Fasso gets in a whole month." This illustrates MDG # 7 to create better living conditions for everyone by ensuring environmental sustainability. Another has a dressed chicken with the label: "This chicken received more medication during its lifetime than a child from East Timor." This is MDG # 6 which speaks of combatting HIV and AIDS, malaria and other illnesses.

So whenever you throw your garbage, flush the bowl or eat chicken, these comparisons linger in your mind. Or do they?

The MDGs are achievable if we move now and yet many of us don't even know that the conditions we are trying to eliminate do exist. The Philippines has announced that we are halfway through attaining these goals. Our target year is 2015 and we are eight years away. But for a starving child, that is eternity. A big number of Filipino children do not reach their fifth birthday. Our government policy-makers also target the MDGs as if they are mutually exclusive from one another. For example, they have a dismal reproductive health program, ignoring the fact that almost half of the MDGs would be addressed if there would be accessible and available reproductive health care and services.

The Philippine Media Advocates for Development & Empowerment, or PhilMADE for brevity, headed by the PNGOC - UNFPA Media Coordinators have been made aware of these conditions because their area of jurisdictions happened to be the ten (10) poorest provinces at the time they were selected. Some had progressed but some had become stuck in the quagmire of poverty. Because they belong to the media, their role is to communicate to the world that poverty comes in many forms in their provinces. But they are also there to show that hope is alive and that the people are finding ways to come out of the squalor.

Here we chronicle the ways the provinces are fighting the war against poverty and how, in their own little ways, they have endured and succeeded.

written by Frank Cimatu, Area Media Coordinator - Mt. Province (Correspondent, PDI-North Luzon)