JULY 2005 | issue 1
laissez-faire ideals of liberal pro-market advocates, andmarket institutions have developed without proper reg-ulatory underpinning or the safeguard of competitionagainst monopolistic profiteering.Income and assetinequality increased in the CIS in the early years of tran-sition.Hence the compelling need to reintroduce, in adramatically different institutional setting and with verydifferent consequences, the message of genuine socialsolidarity.For the poorest countries of the CIS in Cen-tral Asia, the Southern Caucasus and Moldova, the inter-national dimension of social solidarity is also com-pelling.
Applying the MDGs
The MDGs are relevant not only as a moral inspiration,however.The poorest CIS countries are much poorerthan is generally assumed, in part because of a widelyheld illusion that the industrialisation brought develop-ment to all corners of the Soviet Union.The traditional,‘global’ MDGs are thus directly applicable to parts of theCIS. The fit is best in the Central Asian countries, due tothe sub-region’s legacy of post-Soviet economic col-lapse, unfavourable landlocked geography, and gener-ally low per-capita GDP, but the Caucasus countries andMoldova are also impoverished.Income poverty isquite apparent in these countries, particularly in ruralareas.So are unfavourable trends in education, infantmortality, and other MDG indicators.For these reasons, the Millennium Project report has rec-ommended that Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well asArmenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova, put theMDGs at the centre of the national development agen-da by aligning them with poverty reduction strategypapers.Moreover, the report has classified Armenia,Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistanas ‘MDG fast-track’ countries that could be eligible forincreased official development assistance. A closer look at the plight of these countries explains why these aresound proposals.A comparison of GDP per head provides some strikingresults. Tajikistan’s GDP per head, US$980 at purchasingpower party, is lower than that of many of Africa’s poor-est countries, including Kenya (US$1,020), Rwanda(US$1,270) and Uganda (US$1,390).In the EuropeanCIS, Moldova’s GDP per head (US$1,470) is lower thanthat of Sudan (US$1,820), Ghana or Angola (both atUS$2,130).Even Russia’s GDP per head, the highest inthe CIS, is only 80 percent of that of South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s richest country.While the nature andgenesis of poverty in the CIS may be very different fromthat in Africa, its magnitude is actually, and sadly, com-parable.Against this background, the world community’s indif-ference to the plight of the poorer countries of the CISoften seems outright discriminatory.PresidentVladimir Putin of Russia recently called attention to thisdiscrepancy when, while endorsing UK proposals toincrease international aid to Africa, he remarked on theneed for international assistance to the CIS. The Millennium Project has, to a limited extent, reck-oned with this issue by including Tajikistan into the firstround of pilot projects of its ‘needs assessment’, along-side Asian and African countries (Bangladesh, Cambo-dia, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda).This methodology,whereby the government, with the support of externalexperts, sets poverty reduction goals for 2015 and thendrafts a programme of how to achieve them, includinginternational donor support, should be applied to all CIScountries with extremely low levels of GDP per capita. The compelling reason for this is that these very poorcountries will need large-scale international assistanceas well as economic growth and sensible social policiesto achieve the MDGs.
Adapting the MDGs
What of the wealthier countries of the CIS? Official statis-tical data in Russia, as well as in Belarus and Ukraine, do
Millennium Development Goals:
1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger2: Achieve universal primary education3: Promote gender equality and empower women4: Reduce child mortality5: Improve maternal health6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases7: Ensure environmental sustainability8: Build new global partnerships for development