The member states of the United Nations (UN) gathered at the Millennium Summit in September 2000 to shape a broad vision to fight poverty in its many dimensions. That vision was translated into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that consist of 8 goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators, covering the period 1990 to 2015.
For the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), we are likely to attain our targets for only 50 percent of the 32 MDG indicators being monitored in the region. Notable among these is the indicator on the proportion of population below the food threshold, which we targeted to reduce by half by 2015. Food threshold refers to the cost of the food required to satisfy nutritional requirements for economically necessary and socially desirable physical activities. In 1991, 25 percent of the people in the region live below the food threshold. This significantly declined to 10 percent in 2012.

We have also made great strides in so far as attaining some of our targets in the health sector is concerned. In 1991, the prevalence and death rates associated with malaria were 7.6 and 15.6 percent, respectively. By 2012, the Cordillera has attained the status of being a “malaria-free” region. We have also greatly reduced the incidence of deaths related to tuberculosis by more than 81 percent from 1991 to 2014.
To help attain these, the Cordillera Region’s government, non-government and civil society organizations have intensified the implementation of MDG-related programs and projects especially those related to health, education and social protection. Convergence and partnerships among the DOH, DSWD, DepED, POPCOM, NNC, DTI, and other government, together with non-government and civil society organizations, were also strengthened.

However, while we have achieved remarkable gains, inequalities still persist and our progress can be described as uneven. Our targets in ten indicators, particularly in the education and health sectors, have a low probability of being attained. For instance, we targeted that by 2015, at least about 87.8 percent of Cordillera households already have sanitary toilet facilities. As of 2014, the DOH-CAR reports that only 79.5 percent have access to these facilities.

In the education sector, we looked forward to all elementary pupils completing primary education by 2015. As of last year, DepED-CAR reports reveal that only 77.2 percent of our elementary pupils actually completed their primary education.

The non-attainment of these targets may be attributed to cultural and economic factors. According to DOH, some parents’ beliefs against immunization hinder them from availing of immunization programs of the government. Also, some parents, rather than send their children to school, would rather have them take care of their younger siblings while the parents attend to their small farm. Some children are also forced to earn a living through por dia farming or small-scale mining to augment the household’s meager income.

In essence, the Cordillera Region, like much of the world, still has a lot of catching up to do. In September 2015, 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the Official Agenda for Sustainable Development. To follow the 15-year MDG period, this Agenda involves the adoption of a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

Together let us make this newly-adopted Agenda an opportunity to ponder on our MDG journey, reflect on what we have done so far, and rethink our strategies. (Aldrin Bahit, PSA-CAR)

(For more details on the latest MDG Status in the Cordillera Region, please follow this link.)