Key goals to reduce poverty achieved ahead of target, says UN report
THREE KEY goals set by the international community for reducing global deprivation – on poverty levels, access to water, and slum living – have been met five years ahead of target, the 2012 UN report on the Millennium Development Goals records.
Progress on other targets is being made but persistent gaps remain, notably in the critical area of maternal health.
The goals are part of eight benchmark targets for 2015 agreed in 2000, to raise standards from 1990 levels. The full targets may yet be met, the UN insists, if the international community, civil society and the private sector intensify their contributions.
The report finds that, for the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, both the numbers living in extreme poverty and poverty rates have fallen in every developing region, including sub-Saharan Africa, where rates are highest.
Estimates indicate that in 2010 the share of people living on less than a $1.25 a day dropped to less than half of the 1990 value, from 47 per cent to 24 per cent – from more than two billion to less than 1.4 billion. This means that the first development goal – cutting the extreme poverty rate in half – has been achieved.
The target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved drinking water by 2010 has been achieved. The proportion of people using improved water sources rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent.
Improvements in the lives of 200 million slum dwellers exceeded the 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. Child survival progress is gaining momentum. Despite population growth, the number of under-five deaths worldwide fell from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010.
The world is also on track to achieve the target of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of tuberculosis. Projections suggest the 1990 death rate will be halved by 2015. And another milestone has ben reached: parity in primary education between girls and boys.
Welcoming the report, Hans Zomer, director of Dóchas, the association of Irish development organisations, said yesterday that “these reports are examples of Ireland’s commitment to combating global poverty and show that our aid very definitely works. At the same time, it also shows that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals will not be enough in itself.”
The ambition of the goals, he said, “was only to halve the number of people living in poverty, not to eradicate poverty once and for all”.