print this pageemail this page
Latin America and Caribbean
South and East Asia
North America
Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Assessing best options for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in Ghana

© MI
Ghana, like other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is committed to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the 2015 target date. Despite deep poverty and associated illiteracy, low life expectancy, and high infant mortality, Ghana has strong potential to attain the MDGs.

In recognition of the usefulness of Threshold 21 to provide insight into the impact of MDG-related interventions on Ghana’s economic and social development, UNDP requested that MI conduct an assessment to evaluate the impact of such interventions, and the synergies (or lack thereof) among them. This assessment was conducted in partnership with the Millennium Project.

MI customized T21 for Ghana, using fourteen of Millennium Project’s MDG-interventions in areas of health, education, infrastructure, and agriculture. Millennium Project also provided the cost and effect estimates.

The simulation conducted revealed the following:

Synergies and dis-synergies. The model contains a complex system of feedback loops that can be the source of either policy resistance or amplification. The MDG interventions affecting demographic dynamics are embedded within this system. Furthermore, because the target groups of many MDG interventions are overlapping, the impact of one intervention on the population may affect the effectiveness of another, creating synergies and dis-synergies. These phenomena have two major consequences:

  1. The actual cost of meeting the MDGs may differ from what is projected when the impact of the intervention on population is not considered. In general, the intervention aimed at improving quality of life and reducing mortality will tend to cost more than expected, and will make it more expensive to reach the other goals. On the other hand, the intervention to improve education and promote contraceptive use will tend to cost less than expected, and will help to meet the other goals.
  1. The interaction between policies will also shift the recommended pattern of expenditure over time for each intervention. The interventions rapidly impact on population by reducing mortality, while it only affects fertility in the medium term. Consequently, a larger allocation of resources is needed in the early years of the intervention. However, this will gradually decline as we approach 2015.

Time delays. Important time delays were identified that could adversely affect Ghana’s potential to attain the MDGs by 2015. The most significant effect is a substantial increase in cost and difficulty. Since the MDGs target population groups whose size and needs evolve over time, not meeting the need of each group at the allotted time will result in a gross underestimation of the resources required to serve the rapidly growing population. Were this to happen, patterns of expenditure would have to be recalibrated to consider the rapid development of the demographic figures.

Implications for financing. Given the size of the investment required for Ghana to reach the MDGs, and the positive effect of interventions on labor productivity, the economy would grow substantially. Government revenue and household incomes would also grow rapidly, resulting in increased domestic capacity to the finance the MDGs.


The development of T21-Ghana has received support from UNDP and The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. For questions about T21-Ghana, contact Matteo Pedercini at .

Related Resources