The contribution of the Research and Academic sector in achieving


The contribution of the

Research and Academic sector in achieving the

Millennium Development


Dr David Hemson

2011 International Consultative


Presentation, 18 March 2011

Democracy, Governance and

Service Delivery

Research Sector and MDGs

• Two moments

What are the MDG?

• SA and the MDGs

• Reports and priorities

• Critical trends I and II

• What is not known

• National Goals and MDG

• Integrating MDGs in Strategic Priorities

Legislature: Oversight and Review

• The contribution of academic and research sector

• Two cases

• Some conclusions

Our two moments

• The two critical moments on South African soil raised hope for freedom and development;

• First the national elections in 27 April 1994 which brought freedom and was followed by a

Reconstruction and Development Programme.

• The Earth Summit of August 2002 also heralded freedom, equality, solidarity and the respect for nature in the Millennium Declaration.

• Both moments and their complexities, the moment of freedom involved a compromise between those striving for complete change and the existing national and international order.

• It was built on the strategy of shared responsibility in which worldwide economic and social development would be build on collaboration between the richest dominant world and the poorest.

The nature of MDGs

• The MDG set out modest targets and focus on reducing problems rather than resolving them.

• Poverty is to be halved. Education targets are focused on primary education alone. In water, improved sources are targeted, rather than sufficient and safe drinking water itself. Similarly in sanitation an improved facility involves a modest slab although it may be measured in surveys as something less.

• The MDG could be summed up as follows: they are a modest set of goals achievable by poorest countries; in striving to realize them we learn about the nature of our society. Where we fail to reach them we learn about our political processes and impact of our


South Africa and the MDGs

• The MDG need to be situated within national frameworks in South Africa;

• Discussion on how the research and academic sector can be involved and ensure greater progress.

• The MDG reports are often complex with many tables and trends. Despite a general sense that progress is being made, the research and academic sector needs to engage to simplify the trends resulting from many indicators and point to the most useful interventions.

• Critical appraisal is needed to identify range of trends, negative trends, and model interventions to set a new course to realize the MDG.

• This approach synthesizes review with reporting to the legislature.

“Strong” approach to MDG

• Measuring progress towards MDG is a way of assessing general progress in society, but it is more than that;

• “Strong” approach adopted involves

• Acceptance of MDG as basic levels to be reached;

• Numerical targets calculated, robust measurement;

• Trends identified and projection towards targets;

• The results of existing mid-term and country reviews provide a schedule of priorities leading up to 2015;

• Targets measured and clustered in Sectoral Groups – numerical targets set and data measured and projected;

Reports and priorities

• Purpose of mid-term and country reviews is to prepare strategy to reach targets in 2015;

• Review limited to MDG 1-7 and not 8.

• Taking the 59 indicators attached to Goals 1-7, 29 (or 49%) are judged by the STATSSA 2010 Country Report in 2010 as

“Achieved” or “Likely”.

• Another analytical element needed: progress / no progress / negative trends

• A more detailed review of the indicators finds that negative trends and lowest scores are in some of the most critically important Goals: child mortality (MDG4) maternal mortality

(MDG5) and HIV/AIDS (MDG6);

• The low score in Education (MDG2) relates to the difficulty in establishing reliable statistics in key areas.

Summary review of progress

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empow er w omen

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability








0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

Source: Assessments from Country Report, 2010

Negative trend I: Under5 mortality

Source: Country Report, 2010

Negative trend II: Maternal mortality

Source: Country Report, 2010

Components in progress

There are four components necessarily involved in driving towards the achieving the MDGs;

• Firstly, the legislature which oversees departments and programmes;

• Secondly, government which prioritizes policies and resources to implement comprehensive programmes;

Thirdly researchers and academics who contribute through critical examination and implementation research, and

• Fourthly civil society which campaigns for housing, programmes and service delivery together with recipients trying to make a better life.

• The post-apartheid South state sector has been largely transformed and this is unrecognizable from the old South Africa. But change has brought its own challenges -- in provinces and areas services are not performing effectively e.g. education and health in the Eastern Cape.

• Establishing accountability is the task of the Legislature but not alone.

Municipal government is now central to service delivery and also often challenged.

National goals and MDG

• SA national goals preceded MDGs e.g. Reconstruction and

Development Programme (RDP) in 1994 while MDGs adopted in 2002.

• There has been some tendency to give precedence to national goals in RDP, Government Programme of Action, and current Strategic Priorities.

• The MDG have the advantage of universal acceptance, definite indicators, and clear time-lines.

• MDGs have been woven into each strategic priority and provide a ready set of indicators for assessment of progress.

• Regional planning instruments e.g. SADC Regional

Indicative Plan also adopt MDG.

Integrating MDG in Strategic Priorities

Linkage between South Africa’s national development planning and the MDGs


1. Strategic Priority 1: Speeding up growth and transforming the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods

2. Strategic Priority 2: Massive programme to build economic and social infrastructure

3. Strategic Priority 3: Comprehensive rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform and food security

4. Strategic Priority 4: Strengthen the skills and human resource base

5. Strategic Priority 5: Improve the health profile of all South


6. Strategic Priority 6: Intensify the fight against crime and corruption

7. Strategic Priority 7: Build cohesive, caring and sustainable communities

8. Strategic Priority 8: Pursuing African advancement and enhanced international cooperation

9. Strategic Priority 9: Sustainable resource management and use

10. Strategic Priority 10: Building a developmental state, including improvement of public services and strengthening democratic institutions



3, MDG 8








MDG 2, MDG 3







3, MDG 8

Reviewing progress to MDG


• There have been two reviews in South Africa of progress towards the MDG.

• The first was less comprehensive and indicative; it did not set targets to measure progress and often used proxies for the precise indicators set out in the MDG methodology;

• The second, the Country Report, examines each of the

MDG and their associated indicators, sets targets to measure progress and adds in national indicators. It makes a final judgment on progress as “Achieved”,

“Likely”, “Possible” and “Unlikely”.

• Some “unknown” data.

• Most importantly it also makes Conclusions and

Recommendations arising from sector working groups.

Some “unknown” data in reports

• Some examples of “Unknown” “Data deficit”

• Percentage of population and children below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption.

• Net enrolment primary education

• Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary education

• Adolescent birth rate

• Unmet need for family planning

• Proportion of population aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of


Legislature: Oversight and review

• Needs to establish departmental accountability for achieving MDG;

• Ask Deparments to account by MDG to establish relationship of accountability between departments and MDG;

• Take table and ask Departments to establish direct relationship between MDGs, existing Programmes,and indicators;

• Call hearings on MDG possibly starting with most challenging areas;

• Take Country Report Conclusions and Recommendations to assess potential impact and receive evidence from Research and

Academic sector;

• Encourage replication of working improved models of interventions in critical areas;

• Establish Provincial responsibility for DoH and other departments;

• Draw on Research and Academic advice on Programmes and


Research and Academic Sector

• Research sector has capacity of going to scale with interventions, sometimes termed “implementation research”;

Research sector has capacity over years and large project management;

• Considerable experience, knowledge and international links

Academia has more critical component and stance, and potentially closer links with civil society;

• Both are well capable of reviewing existing programmes linked to achieving MDGs;

• In improving Monitoring and Evaluation in critical areas

• Developing modeling interventions in areas such as child and maternal mortality.\

Two models offered from the HSRC experience.

Model I: Project Accept

• Community trial to change community norms in HIV incidence and increase HIV Preventative Behaviour

• Randomised Selection for Control and Intervention

Close collaboration between Provincial Dept of


• More than 300 VCT non-professional counsellors for the district;

• Project substantial enough to tackle real administrative and logistical hallenges in service delivery;

• Large enough samples to be scientifically robust;

• Costed for real-life cost-benefit decisions.

Model II: Accelerated water delivery

• Selected most remote villages in municipalities which face major challenges;

• Devised technology for rapid implementation and replication;

• Close working with municipal officials to overcome constraints in municipal planning and finance protocols;

• Social mobilisation to ensure developed communities and community-led hygiene promotion;

• Innovative use of solar-voltaic pumping to raise water heads of 100 metres and more.

Discussion point I

• Can MDG in the health sector be met?

• “We still have time to change the health trajectory of the country, and even meet the MDGs.”

Government has potential to meet public health emergencies (Chopra et al, Lancet, 2009).

• Enormous challenge to halt negative trend and adopt a positive turn.

• SA has considerable resources but opinion is divided on whether this is possible.

• Reviews of services to vulnerable childen and intervention models at scale show what is needed.

Discussion point II

• Civil society groups or social movements keenly contest policies in relation to “slums” or “shacks” (the preferred term);

• The reporting on the improvement of the living conditions of the proportion of urban population living in slums needs to take their representations into account;

• This is not in evidence in the Country Report.

Some concluding points

• A closer interaction is needed between Legislature and the Research and Academic Sector to establish or confirm key trends and workable interventions at scale;

• More active joint engagement between researchers, civil society and government eg Sector Working


• Methodologies to assess progress towards the

MDG need to be carried into academic programmes and research methods;

• Wider discussion than hearings alone needs to be carried into society by the Research and Academic

Sector through relations with civil society.