By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi and Chairperson of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA), the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi said African countries need to embrace a holistic approach to development if they are to achieve real growth.
He was speaking yesterday during an online discussion organised by the Anglican Communion’s Anglican Alliance, on the goals that the international community should be setting for world development after the 2015 MDGs target.
“There is need for a holistic approach to development and growth,” said the Primate. “Women's empowerment and participation, as well as environmental issues need to be addressed adequately if we are to eradicate poverty.”
The well-attended online discussion saw the participation of the African Primate and his Brazilian counterpart Primate of Brazil the Most Revd Mauricio Andrade. They were also joined by Baron Mark Malloch-Brown, former UN Deputy General Secretary and Africa minister.
The discussion addressed various issues including climate change, women's empowerment and participation and poverty eradication at world and regional levels. Participants also proposed other options that ought to be included in the future set of goals such as security, justice and world peace.
“A lot of women are part of the workforce in Brazil but there is still a challenge of limited participation in government and decision-making,” revealed the Primate of Brazil, Mauricio Andrade. “Yet about 9 per cent of our Congress are women.”
Archbishop Ntahoturi gave an overview of the situation in Africa with specific focus on Burundi. “Women are participating fully in both family and national affairs,” he said. “About 30 per cent of women in some African countries are participating in governance.”
He added, “In most African countries, the Church is helping to fight early marriages. Church programmes have transformed a lot of countries and villages in Africa though more still needs to be done to empower women on the continent.”
Baron Mark Malloch-Brown highlighted the positive role that the Church plays in bringing about development especially in areas that governments cannot reach.
“MDGs can be achieved if governments work with Faith Based Organisations.” He emphasised that the “fight against poverty should be in the context of the environment.”
The panelists also debated whether the targets were achievable considering the differing contexts and regions of the world. Abp Ntahoturi argued that “MDGs are achievable in Africa though the continent has a lot of setbacks.”
“The pace has been slowed due to the international financial crisis. Partnerships between nations were affected,” he said. “Despite the challenges, Burundi may achieve all the goals by 2015.”
Abp Ntahoturi was impressed with the increase in the number of children in school in Burundi and most of Africa but was disappointed with the low quality of education offered in most instances.
The Primate of Brazil said the Church needs to use its values to deliver development. He said, “Governments need to use Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) to deliver equitable development.
Abp Andrade concluded, “The environment and justice are two important issues that need to be addressed as we endeavour to achieve and rewrite the MDGs.”
Archbishop Ntahoturi remarked, “In Africa, we have had many commissions for development. But the question is, how do we empower countries to deal with their own issues.”
Anglican Alliance is the Anglican Communion's global platform which supports and co-ordinates Anglican and Episcopal humanitarian efforts worldwide.