There is need for more advocacy, awareness and documentation by faith actors as part of their efforts to contribute to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) in Africa. This was the general view and feeling of most of the faith actors during the Faith Leaders and technical representatives meeting of the African Interfaith Initiative on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
The meeting, which took place on 12 April 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, sought to reflect on the contribution of faith communities and their leaders, towards the realization of the SDGs while identifying possible advocacy avenues and opportunities for the African Interfaith Initiative on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The participants in the meeting, coming from about 20 different faith/interfaith organizations applauded the existence of the platform, (the African Interfaith Initiative on the Post 2015 Development Agenda) as an avenue faith actors to engage towards realization of the SDGs in Africa.
Speaking during the meeting, Rev. Nicta Lubaale, the Secretary General of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches, (OAIC) said that the Initiative remains a perfect platform for members of different faiths to reflect and work together towards implementing and achieving the SDGs in Africa.
“This is a moment of uncertainty; many things have changed since the SDGs were adopted. to this end, as a group, we must move together to make the SDGs a reality,” he said.
In the same breadth, Ms. Elizabeth Kiisigha, the Regional Representative Africa, ACT alliance, called for strengthening of national SDGs implementation engagements within the Faith Based sector. She said that the purpose of the meeting was to re-energise Faith Based Organisations to engage with other stakeholders towards implementation of the SDGs.
Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, the Secretary General of the Global Network of Religions for Children, (GNRC) on the other hand reiterated the importance of the Initiative, saying that the Africa continent faces dire problems now as compared to perhaps 10 years ago. He therefore called on religious leaders to use the Initiative to come up with ideas and strategies on how to deal with the problems affecting the masses in the continent, Africa. He gave an example of the 10 commitments on ending violence against children, made in Panama during the GNRC 5th forum as a fertile avenue to address some of the challenges.
While reflecting on what Faith actors and faith communities have been able to do towards realization of the SDGS, Mr. Bwibo Adieri, the Executive Director of the Anglican Development Services affirmed that faith actors have been involved in advocating for social justice and the welfare of human being since the Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs) and now the SDGs. He gave an example of the health sector and the education sector in which he stated that close to 60 or 70 percent of health in Kenya is being provided by religious institutions and at the same time, most churches sponsor schools and they are very much involved in the management of the schools and education processes.
Proposing a way for the Initiative to forge ahead, Rev. Fred Nyabera, the Director, Arigatou International – End Child Poverty called for the need to build awareness and understanding of the SDGs. “As faith leaders, there is need to Identify and seek opportunities, including spaces through which faith actors’ can enhance their understanding of the SDGs and the broader global development agenda,” he said.
The same sentiments were echoed by Ms. Catherine Njuguna, the Regional Advocacy Officer, ACT Alliance, where she said that we need to know about the SDGs before we start implementing and monitoring the SDGs. The need for advocacy and inclusion was also cited as a way forward. Mr. Emmanuel Ametepey, the Convener of the African Youth SDGs Summit encouraged inclusion and involvement of the youth in the advocacy processes of the SDGs in Africa.
Faith actors remain a valiant group towards realizing the SDGs in Africa. Realisation of the SDGs will particularly see the most vulnerable population in the continent, children, enjoy a better world, especially one without poverty. The African Interfaith Initiative on the Post 2015 Development Agenda was therefore formed as a response to the need for faith communities and faith leaders’ engagement, in the shaping the global development agenda by influencing and contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. Arigatou International – End Child Poverty is part of the platform because we believe children must be included in the design and implementation of the SDGs and all other work to eradicate poverty.