Challenge seen in sustaining MDGs progress with reduced int’l funding

Guyana is poised to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but sustaining the strides made with less international funding is already being seen as a near challenge for the future.

“The challenge that we have now is about the sustainability of the response. Considering that all those funds, all those data, all those achievements are not coming from domestic funds and so Guyana is heavily dependent on international funds and that’s a challenge for the near future,” UNAIDS Coordinator Roberto Campos said during a recent conversation with the media, where he and other United Nations representatives highlighted the significant strides Guyana has made while pointing out challenges.

Campos noted the significant progress made by Guyana in combating HIV and AIDS. For many years, Guyana has benefited from a significant amount of donor funding, primarily from the World Bank, the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). According to a strategic plan, which was launched by the National Aids Programme Secretariat in August of this year, at the end of 2012, the country’s HIV budget was estimated at US$29M, with PEPFAR providing approximately 65% and the Global Fund contributing 25%.

Based on information garnered during the HIV and AIDS Programme Sustainability Analysis Tool (HAPSAT) exercise, it is evident that Guyana’s annual HIV budget is projected to decrease over a five year period by as much as 55%, with the transition of services being gradually undertaken by the government. The Guyana government’s contribution is expected to increase by at least 61% from US$2.3M in 2010 to $$US3.7M in 2015.

The country has also achieved universal access to primary education, for which the current school feeding programmes, free textbooks to students and incentives to hinterland teachers were counted as significant contributors to the MDG attainment.

“Guyana has reached universal access to universal primary education…the school feeding programme …has contributed very well into getting the children into schools. Two other major programmes are the incentives that government gives to teachers in remote areas and the training of teachers and the giving of textbooks,” UN representative Marianne Flach said.

In addition, Babsy Persaud-Giddings, of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), noted the collaborative efforts between government and the United Nations in promoting gender equality and empowering women but she stressed the difficulties in getting males involved in sensitisation and education exercises. “Men have been very difficult coming to programmes or attending sessions. We understand that this is very ticklish where men will not leave their works to come to programs so they don’t know in many cases what they are doing wrong or what they are doing right,” she said.

Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh, who present at the interaction, also pointed to programmes that government has partnered on with the private sector and civil society in seeing women entrepreneurs garner support to start businesses, which he said have shown significant progress. He also noted the educating of the nation’s females to make them empowered and pointed out that now data shows that girls are excelling boys in all school areas.

An observation made was that boys from the coastlands have a high dropout rate at secondary school, while this was the case for girls in the hinterlands.

Studies are being conducted to ascertain the reasons for this. Persaud-Giddings also noted that programmes are now being formulated to target boys across the country.

Guyana was also lauded for its efforts that satisfied UN targets in ensuring environmental sustainability and its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) was credited an example of an initiative well executed. A challenge in this area stems from the growth in the extractive sector and monitoring how areas are mined and areas deforested, it was noted.

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