International development can only be defined holistically as improvement of human lives and enhancement of the people’s social welfare. International development constitutes the following; provision and/or improvement in sectors of health, education, governance, gender equity and equality, infrastructural facilities, environment, economic empowerment, foreign aid, disaster preparedness and human rights. In order to know the status of the welfare in any society, there are some indicators that can be used and these include the following; the literacy level, poverty level, life expectancy and GDP per capita.
Generally, these indicators have been reported to improve over the past and this has not been possible without involvement of development partners. These development partners include CBO ’s, NGO’s , multilateral development agencies and bilateral donors among others. This paper will focus on Catholic Relief Services (CRS ) approach to international development and outline its contribution to the achievement of the MDG’s . CRS is a non governmental organization that was started back in 1943 by United States’ catholic bishops.
Its main aim was to resettle those people who were displaced by the Second World War especially in Europe. It is based on Christian religious practices and specifically on catholic doctrine. Ten years later the situation in Europe was regaining its normalcy state and the organization expanded its activities to other parts of the world that include Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Caribbean, Asia and middle east. Other than provision of relief services, the organization has been in the fore front in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty through sustainable community based development initiatives.
This has been mainly through its focus in key sectors in the word’s economies and its main activities have been carried out in the following areas; agriculture, emergency response, health including HIV /AIDS , education, microfinance and peace building. It has been active in championing policy issues regarding global poverty, hunger, conflict resolution management and transformation, migration, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, gender and inequality (http://crs. org/ ). According to the organization
“Catholic Relief Services complements its humanitarian and development experience with policy analysis and advocacy to address root causes of poverty, conflict, and marginalization. CRS examines issues that are dramatically impacting the safety and well-being of poor and vulnerable people worldwide based on the principles of Catholic social teaching, primary among them the protection of the dignity of the human person. ”(http://crs. org/ ) Millennium development goals are goals that were set by members of the United Nations and international organizations and aimed to be achieved by 2015.
This followed after the adoption of United Nations millennium declaration during the 2000 millennium summit by the member states heads (http://www. un. org/millennium/). The aim of these MDG’s was to foster social and economic development in the poverty stricken countries in the world. There was a major concern on the increase in poverty among many people all over the world and this trend needed urgent redress to stop and reverse it. Following the chapters of the United Nations millennium declaration eight goals were set and named the millennium development goals.
These included the following; poverty reduction and hunger eradication, promotion gender equality and women empowerment, improvement of maternal health, eradicate illiteracy through provision of primary education to children all over the world, reverse the trend of HIV/AIDS infections, reduce the death of children under five years of age, promote environmental sustainability and enhance partnership in global development(http://www. undp. org/mdg/basics. shtml).
The catholic relief services activities have been intertwined with these millennium development goals and this is a clear indication that achievement of these MDG’s will mean attaining the objectives of the CRS and vice versa. The reason is because the goals can not be achieved without the focus on the sectors addressed by the CRS and thus the CRS can be viewed as an urgent and a partner in the realization of the millennium development goals. The reason for focusing on the CRS is because of its massive contribution and huge network that covers the different corners of the world.
Though it is based on Christian virtues and catholism, it has never been crippled or shorthanded by the diversity in people’s background ranging from religion, race tribe, geographical location and nationality. It has always focused on its key objectives and as a result many people have benefited so much from the organization’s activities. Its approach to social issues has been guided by the people’s needs and its immense contribution has saved the lives of many.
Most of the beneficiaries of its serviced have risen to great heights and human suffering has highly reduced in those areas it has been reported to operate. The spirit of giving, volunteer ship and promotion peaceful coexistence has been demonstrated by the organization where mutual understanding has prevailed in areas where hostility, hatred, destruction, disasters and political instability has rocked claiming lives of many people. As globalization continues to shape the lives of people, there always arise challenges that need unity and cooperation to be addressed.
It is this reason that the CRS has gone beyond its religious cocoons and joined hands with re rest of the world to alleviate human suffering and this is a good example that organizations and states should follow if the world would be a better and safer place for human beings to live. I will now focus on the specific contributions of the CRS towards the achievement of the millennium development goals. Most developing countries highly depend on agriculture. This has been their only resource that has enabled them to survive through acquisition of the basic human needs that include food, clothing, shelter, health services and basic education.
However as a result of climatic changes, the agriculture sector has faced many challenges that need to e addressed in order to guarantee its vital contribution and sustainability to the many people who rely on it for their daily life. The challenges need massive investment on technology and skills which must be accompanied by financial costs. Since most of these poor people can not afford them, their poverty escalates day by day. CRS has developed partnership programs with poor local communities by providing advice, research services and inputs to improve agricultural production.
It has worked closely with local agencies to ensure programs on environmental matters and agriculture are properly implemented to benefit the poorest in the communities and families all over the world. It seeks to strengthen the local poor communities and encourage them to champion their development without relying on external enforcement. Increased food production will ensure hunger is completely eradicated and people can even have surplus to sell and procure other basic needs in their lives. This will reduce poverty and reduce diseases which have been closely associated with malnutrition.
Sexual exploitation which has very much been exacerbated by the need to earn money to buy basis needs will reduce leading to drastic decline in HIV/AIDS infections (Little D. M, Clifford J. M, 2005, 122-127). In the education sector, CRS has made huge contribution to promotion of basic education in different areas of the world. Its activities have increased the access and quality of education to many poor and marginalized populations. This has been aimed at enhancing peace and justice in all communities and has been mainly in areas where crisis has been reported.
Their services extend to those areas with relative stability and those that are recovering from the crisis. The organization provides support to schools in local areas where the largest population of the poor are believed to live. In their effort to ensure the poor access quality education and participate fully in community projects, it introduced food assisted education (FAE ). Since mid 1990’s girl child education, teachers support, hygienic education and services for students have also been rolled out.
It has also helped to put up education infrastructural facilities and sensitization of members of the communities especially parents to get involved in educational matters for their children. These education activities have an objective of reaching the poor and marginalized members of the society especially the children. As a result poverty is expected to reduce with the decrease in the level of illiteracy all over the world. Poverty will then reduce and thus the millennium development goals are well taken care of by the CRS programmes (Singer H.
W, Ansari J. A, 1988, 35-58). CRS is widely involved in emergency responses that ensure that those affected are not denied their right to live with dignity. It therefore works closely with members of the communities affected to ensure their disaster preparedness capacities are strengthened and restored. In times of complex emergencies and natural disasters, the CRS commits itself in life saving livelihood support and strengthening of the entire civil society. To them, peace is of necessity and violent conflict should be prevented.
The organization therefore conducts emergency health operations that are usually aimed at supporting the already existing health institutions and ensure those in need of health services and basic medical attention are attended to. Distribution of relief food and technical support to farmers to increase food production is also a vital role played by the CRS. Those who may not have shelters are assisted with temporary shelters and to some larger extend, the organization contribute materials to construct permanent shelters.
CRS also ensures conflicts are prevented, properly managed if they arise, resolved peacefully and transformation is achieved within the soonest time possible through addressing the root cause. Marginalized and vulnerable groups receive special attention including expectant women children, aged and those infected with HIV/AIDS (Megan Landon M, 2006, 165-190). In the health sector, the CRS has actively involved local communities to solve problems themselves through empowering them to make sound decisions.
They normally use the catholic social teaching which acts as a subsidiary principle. It involves volunteers from different parts of the world who donate their services to those most in need of them and can not afford them. Such programs reduce child mortality, HIV/AIDS infections and reduce deaths that result from inadequate maternal services for women. Social justice is therefore restored and human rights and dignity is fostered. On similar grounds the organization has been very much concerned with AIDS which has been threatening to wipe human beings out of the face of the earth.
Research has indicated that as much as poverty has been cited as the cause of the increase in infections of the disease among human beings, it is also an effect. CRS has therefore initiated programmes all over the world with an estimated expenditure of at least $120million and over four million beneficiaries in the year 2007 alone. This has been the trend over the past up to date and as the pandemic deepens its roots, the expenditure has kept on rising. Finally, as the rate of unemployment increases, many people are engaging in self employment to earn their living.
Majority of the unemployed are poor and the women who have no collaterals to access financial services from commercial banks. This has increased sexual exploitation which is skewed towards women. This has been taken care of by the microfinance service in CRS that provides affordable loan and financial services to the self employed women. Economic empowerment is very important weapon in war against HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, inequality, hunger, diseases and all other poverty related problems that human beings encounter. This is the major concern of the CRS and the core of millennium development goals.
Citing an example of progress in the contributions towards achieving the millennium development goals will directly highlight a major activity carried out by the CRS and therefore the CRS deserves all manner of support in implementation of its goals and objectives if millennium development goals will ever be achieved. Other organizations and governmental entities have already joined hands with CRS such as USAID , USDA , UNDP , The Inter-American Development Bank, Education ministries among many others (http://www. management-issues. com/2006/8/24/research/financial-services-firms-hostile-towards-women.
asp ). Conclusion CRS is just but one of the many organizations that has been actively involved in ensuring millennium development goals are achieved. Both the millennium development goals and the CRS have so much in common and it may not be easy to separate the influence of one to the other. While the CRS is concerned with the issues that impact safety and social welfare of the minor marginalized and vulnerable groups of people, the MDG’s outline these issues themselves and sets a target and specific time duration through its objectives when the problems should be reduced to manageable magnitude.
It is a lifetime process to completely do away with these problems and challenges and thus, unless otherwise, the CRS should only live to see full redress of the problems. At the same time, achievement of the MDG’s in the year 2015 will set the agenda for the next step in millennium development goals.
About the MDGs: Basics, Retrieved from http://www. undp. org/mdg/basics. shtml on 5th June, 2009 UNITED NATIONS MILLENNIUM DECLARATION, Retrieved from http://www. un. org/millennium/ PDF, on 5th June, 2009 Little D. M, Clifford J. M, (2005), International aid: the flow of public resources from rich to poor countries, Aldine Transaction Singer H. W, Ansari J. A, (1988), Rich and Poor Countries: Consequences of International Economic Disorder, Rutledge Megan Landon M, (2006), Environment, health and sustainable development, McGraw-Hill International Catholic relief service, Retrieved from http://crs. org/ on 5th June, 2009 Financial services firms ‘hostile towards women’ Retrieved from http://www. management-issues. com/2006/8/24/research/financial-services-firms-hostile-towards-women. asp on 5th June, 2009