Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New progress report on the MDGs

The United Nations has produced a new report showing the progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The good news is that the UN predicts MDG number 1 of halving the worlds poverty can be met by the year 2015. In the next five years, the number of people living in poverty should be halved from the level of 1990, lifting some 920 million people out of poverty.

However, the goals on improving sanitation, and the empowerment of women have shown slow progress. The report notes that the goals that need the biggest infrastructure development have been the slowest to improve.

From the IPS, writer Beatrice Paez details the latest MDG report.

"Economic growth has been robust enough to guarantee that all regions remain on track to meet the poverty target," said Francesca Perucci, chief of the U.N.'s Statistics Planning and Development Section.

However, progress remains uneven in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Asia and parts of Eastern Europe.

The report says that the number of people living on less than 1.25 dollars a day fell from 1.8 billion in 1990 to 1.4 billion in 2005, and the poverty rate dropped from 46 percent to 27 percent. These advances were partly driven by India and China, along with countries in Eastern Asia, which experienced sharp reductions in poverty.

The MDGs are a set of far-reaching commitments undertaken by governments in September 2000. They range from the empowerment of women to reducing child mortality. The deadline for meeting these targets is 2015, leaving governments five years to go.

The report will be used as a tool in preparation for a high- level summit on the MDGs this September at U.N. headquarters in New York. It noted that development aid continues to rise, but cautioned that the flow of funding has been uneven and only five donor countries - Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden - are meeting or exceeding the U.N.'s target of 0.7 percent of gross national income.

The lag in certain development goals is partly due to skewed budget priorities, "but also objective difficulties for governments not being able to fund and sustain all those changes in the long run," Perucci told IPS. "There might be changes if there is strong political will from both sides - the donors and national governments from developing countries."

She noted that the fastest progress has been mostly towards goals that do not require major infrastructural changes - like Goal 6, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The availability of anti-viral drugs and treatment has risen rapidly for HIV and malaria. Countries where malaria is endemic have seen an increase in aid from 0.1 billion dollars in 2003 to 1.5 billion dollars in 2009.

However, other key goals, such as the empowerment of women, remain distant. Job insecurity and lack of benefits for women are widespread, and have been exacerbated by the financial crisis, the report said.

Providing sanitation for the 2.6 billion people who lack it has also proven difficult to achieve - only half of the developing world has met this critical need.

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