Development targets top UN official’s talks with Tanzanian leader

UNDP chief Helen Clark with President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania

11 May 2010 – Progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was the focus of talks today between Tanzania’s leader and a senior United Nations official, who praised the East African nation for the strides it has made in boosting primary school enrolment.

Ensuring that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling is among the eight MDGs, which world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

“The education goal stands out as an area where Tanzania has had a lot of success in increasing the numbers of children going to school,” with the enrolment rate hovering near 100 per cent, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark told President Jakaya Kikwete.

Speaking at the end of her four-day visit to the country, she hailed Tanzania for the “incredible” progress it has also made in increasing girls’ school attendance.

“Every dollar we invest in girls’ education has a multiplier effect for development across every area,” Miss Clark said. “This huge investment in education will pay dividends in Tanzania.”

Also today, she visited the National Electoral Commission’s voter registration facilities and met with first-time voters – set to cast their ballots in October – who told her that development and economic growth are among the most important issues.

“Elections are something I know quite a lot about,” said the UNDP chief, who formerly served three terms as the Prime Minister of New Zealand. “And there is nothing more fundamental to the integrity of elections than having rigorous voter registration procedures.”

Some 21 million people are expected to be registered to vote, and UNDP is supporting the election process through voter education, as well as training the media, political parties and domestic observers.

Its support also centres on women as both voters and as candidates, and UNDP seeks to bolster women’s organizations and networks which promote the rights of women.

Women’s empowerment, along with maternal health, was also the focus of a meeting Miss Clark had yesterday with women parliamentarians.

Largely due to quotas, women’s participation in parliament and local government has reached 30 per cent.

Also yesterday, the UNDP head held talks with Tanzanian Finance Minister Mustafa Mkulo on the MDGs, particularly the efforts to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS.

They also touched on the “Delivering as One” initiative – a programme under which countries work closely with UN entities to facilitate development – which they said had made a significant contribution to Tanzania’s anti-poverty strategy.

On Sunday, Miss Clark visited Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, where she had a meeting with President Amani Abeid Karume. She also visited the Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Area, the single most important site for the conservation of Zanzibar’s biodiversity. UNDP supported the creation of the park and helped the Government put in place policies and legislative processes that made conservation possible.

Miss Clark’s mission to four African countries has already taken her to Mali and Burkina Faso, and will wrap up with a stop in South Africa.

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