Keeping track of development progress in Africa.

Author:Ford, Neil

The report, Goalkeepers: The Stories behind the Data, published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in September, analyses just how much progress has been made on achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, as well as looking ahead into the future.

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed by the member states of the United Nations in 2015. It is hoped that there will be universal access to clean drinking water and an end to hunger by 2030, as well as specified big reductions in stunting, child mortality and maternal mortality.

The Foundations report aims to assess progress towards meeting those goals and also keep pressure on the international community, including African governments, for even better results. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to produce a similar report every year between now and 2030 in an attempt to track progress and identify "promising solutions, measure and interpret key results, and spread best practices".

Goalkeepers lays out the most likely outcomes for 18 indicators included in the SDGs using forecasts made by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. It concedes that while some targets are achievable, others are more aspirational.

As well as examining the raw data, the report seeks to tell the stories behind the numbers by highlighting those leaders, innovations and policies that have had a particularly significant impact. While the report and the SDGs relate to the entire world, Sub-Saharan Africa is the focus of both of them because of the scale of poverty in the region and the improvements in living standards that have been achieved in India and China.

The report undoubtedly answers the question of whether the advances that have been made in tackling global poverty are worth all the investment that has been made. Yet this question hardly needs answering given the improvements that have been recorded in child mortality, maternal mortality, HIV infection rates and other key indicators.

Of course, non-governmental organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are not the only drivers behind such improvements, but they are a significant source of financing. The Foundation obviously makes use of its own financial resources in the fight against global poverty but also attracts partner funding. The Foundation received stock in Berkshire Hathaway that was valued at $30bn in 2006 and which is being transferred in tranches, following a pledge by Warren...

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