The report says that more attention is needed in rural poverty, and the rising number of AIDS cases.
The Kuensel's Online Phuntsho Choden reports on the major challenges the country faces in meeting the MDG's.
The report provides information on the current state of progress, after the adoption of MDGs in 2000, on the eight specific goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.
Several targets, such as reducing malnutrition among children and halving the numbers of those without access to safe drinking water and safe sanitation, have been achieved, according to the report. From 19 percent in 2000, the rate of child malnutrition has dropped to 9.8 percent in 2007.
Bhutan has also achieved significant poverty reduction with the rate of people living under the poverty line decreased from 36.3 percent in 2000 to 23.2 percent in 2007. But rural poverty remains a key challenge to the country, complicated by the inaccessibility and geographical remoteness of the poorest areas, according to the UN assistant secretary general and UNDP regional director, Mr Ajay Chhiber.
He said that the MDG report and other studies point out that the development achievements are unequal across districts and there are pockets of socially and economically disadvantaged communities across the country. “Tracking MDGs at local levels reveals stark contrasts across districts and regions on a number of MDG target areas, such as poverty incidence, child malnutrition, food security, net primary enrolment and access to safe drinking water,” said Mr Ajay Chhiber, while launching Bhutan’s midway progress report. “The focused targeting should thus involve delivering development benefits directly to the poor, enhancing their human capabilities and addressing root causes of their impoverishment.”
The youth unemployment rate has quadrupled from 2.2 percent in 1998 to 9.9 percent in 2007. The rapidly rising rates of youth unemployment and underemployment are a major challenge, that could decelerate progress in reducing poverty levels in the country, according to the report.
In terms of primary education enrolment, the report states that about 16,500 children in the primary school-going age are currently out of the school system. Bhutan’s challenge lies in enhancing accessibility of primary education to the furthest reaches and remotest areas of the country, where much of the poor and vulnerable reside. In addition, the female to male ratio in the tertiary level education was only 54:100 in 2007.