UN reveals positive progress on Millennium Development Goals

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report 2012 was launched last week in New York by Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. The report presents the yearly assessment of global progress towards the MDGs.  The good news is that three important MDG targets have been met well ahead of the target date of 2015.  According to the report, meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, remain possible – but only if Governments do not waiver from their commitments.

In case you’re not familiar with them, The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals established in 2000 that all 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations agreed to achieve by the year 2015.  The goals are:

  • eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,
  • achieving universal primary education,
  • promoting gender equality and empowering women
  • reducing child mortality rates,
  • improving maternal health,
  • combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,
  • ensuring environmental sustainability, and
  • developing a global partnership for development.

Since 2000 there has been uneven progress with some countries showing a much higher level of commitment to the MCGs than others.  However, the overview on pages 4 and 5 of the report presents a generally positive picture of what is being achieved.  It first highlights areas of significant progress and then goes on to look at those where achievement is proving to be more difficult.  Below is a summary of the areas where broad progress has been achieved:

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed to by world leaders over a decade ago have achieved important results.  Working together, Governments, the United Nations family, the private sector and civil society have succeeded in saving many lives and improving conditions for many more.  The world has met some important targets—ahead of the deadline.

Extreme poverty is falling in every region
For the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, the number of people living in extreme poverty and poverty rates fell in every developing region—including in sub- Saharan Africa, where rates are highest. The proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 47 per cent in 1990 to 24 per cent in 2008—a reduction from over 2 billion to less than 1.4 billion.

The poverty reduction target was met
Preliminary estimates indicate that the global poverty rate at $1.25 a day fell in 2010 to less than half the 1990 rate. If these results are confirmed, the first target of the MDGs— cutting the extreme poverty rate to half its 1990 level—will have been achieved at the global level well ahead of 2015.

The world has met the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water
The target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water was also met by 2010, with the proportion of people using an improved water source rising from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010. Between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells.

Improvements in the lives of 200 million slum dwellers exceeded the slum target
The share of urban residents in the developing world living in slums declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012. More than 200 million gained access to either improved water sources, improved sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing. This achievement exceeds the target of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, well ahead of the 2020 deadline.

The world has achieved parity in primary education
between girls and boys
Driven by national and international efforts and the MDG campaign, many more of the world’s children are enrolled in school at the primary level, especially since 2000. Girls have benefited the most. The ratio between the enrolment rate of girls and that of boys grew from 91 in 1999 to 97 in 2010 for all developing regions. The gender parity index value of 97 falls within the plus-or-minus 3-point margin of 100 per cent, the accepted measure for parity.

Many countries facing the greatest challenges have made significant progress towards universal primary education
Enrolment rates of children of primary school age increased markedly in sub-Saharan Africa, from 58 to 76 per cent between 1999 and 2010. Many countries in that region succeeded in reducing their relatively high out-of-school rates even as their primary school age populations were growing.

Child survival progress is gaining momentum
Despite population growth, the number of under-five deaths worldwide fell from more than 12.0 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. And progress in the developing world as a whole has accelerated. Sub-Saharan Africa—the region with the highest level of under-five mortality—has doubled its average rate of reduction, from 1.2 per cent a year over 1990-2000 to 2.4 per cent during 2000-2010.

Access to treatment for people living with HIV increased in all regions
At the end of 2010, 6.5 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV or AIDS in developing regions. This total constitutes an increase of over 1.4 million people from December 2009, and the largest one-year increase
ever. The 2010 target of universal access, however, was not reached.

The world is on track to achieve the target of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of tuberculosis
Globally, tuberculosis incidence rates have been falling since 2002, and current projections suggest that the 1990 death rate from the disease will be halved by 2015.

Global malaria deaths have declined
The estimated incidence of malaria has decreased globally, by 17 per cent since 2000. Over the same period, malaria-specific mortality rates have decreased by 25 per cent. Reported malaria cases fell by more than 50 per cent between 2000 and 2010 in 43 of the 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission.

We should be thankful for the way this news means a better quality of life for millions of people around the world.  Christians have been heavily involved in lobbying governments over these issues over the last few years.  If you want to find out how this is happening and what more can be done, you really ought to head over to Micah Challenge, which is a global movement encouraging Christians to be committed to the poor and hold governments accountable for their pledges to the MDGs.

Categories: Justice, Overseas aid, Poverty

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