|Dr. Kalombo Mwansa|
Minister of Defence Dr. Kalombo Mwansa has said Zambia has made a lot of progress in improving the macro economic environment leading to sustained economic growth of 6.1 percent for the past five years.
Dr. Mwansa has commended cooperating partners whose support had resulted in the positive economic growth which Zambia has continued to enjoy.
He noted that the debt relief accessed after reaching the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) completion point in 2004 from external partners in various donor support mechanisms amounted to a total of US$ 798.20 million.
Presenting a national statement to the high-level segment of the United Nations General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Dr Mwansa who is the Special envoy of President Rupiah Banda to the Assembly said with only five years remaining , before the year set for achieving the MDGs, Zambia had stepped back and taken stock of where the country was.
This is contained in a press statement made available to ZANIS by Press Secretary at the Zambian Mission to the United Nations in New York, Moses Walubita.
Dr. Mwansa informed the assembly that the Zambian government had put in place development frameworks such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the fifth National Development Plan that have been committed to the achievement of the MDGs and have provided for periodic monitoring of these indicators.
The minister explained that the country has invested in growth sectors and in areas that promoted human capital development.
He said other efforts have been made in implementing pro-poor interventions among them increasing farmer input support from 200,000 beneficiaries to over 800,000 farmers in form of fertiliser and seed.
The minister also highlighted some of the challenges that Government was facing in an effort to achieve the MDGs, saying one of them high food prices that were experienced in the last few years which threatened a large number of poor people who could not easily access highly priced foods.
He said the other challenge was climatic variability that continued to be experienced and has had a telling effect on the lives of the majority of people.
He stated that the other concern was the issue of inequality that was emerging in relation to the attainment of the MDGs describing it as a real phenomenon which needed to be addressed if progress was expected by 2015.
The minister informed the assembly that the Zambian government was accelerating rural development as a prime issue on Zambia’s development agenda.
“The government is improving the state of feeder roads thereby enhancing service delivery and access to markets in the rural population. These interventions are backed by addressing human resources deficiencies in rural areas” the minister said.
He pointed out that some of the measures included the recruitment of 1,610 frontline medical personnel improving the work environment for health workers and improving the rural retention scheme and building houses for rural health workers.
He said it was the conviction of Government that these measures will significantly contribute to meeting the MDGs related to the reduction of child mortality, improving maternal mortality, combating HIV and AIDS, Malaria and other major diseases.
The special envoy who is also leading the Zambian delegation to the 65th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly informed the assembly that Government has recruited and deployed over 25,000 teachers between 2005 and 2009 close to 6,000 basic school classrooms have been built between 2008 and 2010 in a bid to achieving universal primary education.
On gender equality, the minister said the Government was implementing regional and international protocols and conventions through appropriate national policies and strategies saying with this, Zambia was likely to meet the MDG 3 on promoting gender equality.