Information and stories on Millennium Development Goals

How Many People Live in Poverty
How many people live in poverty? The fight to end global poverty has been making strides over the past decade. In 2010, the world met its first Millennium Development Goal of cutting global levels of how many people live in poverty from 1990 in half, five years early. Though a step in the right direction, there are still billions of people living in extreme poverty conditions. There is plenty of work to be done if the world plans on meeting the most important goal: ending extreme poverty completely by 2030.

The World Bank defines being in poverty as anyone making under $1.90 per day. In 1990, the amount of the world’s population living beneath that threshold was 35.1 percent. However, thanks in large part to unifying efforts to decrease this number, 2013 finished with a record low — 10.7 percent of the population under that poverty line. That 25-point decrease in how many people live in poverty over just 20 years is unprecedented.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that these percentages are people, and 10.7 percent of the global population, about 767 million people, were living on less than two dollars per day in 2013. For a frame of reference, the current population of the entire United States is just under 325 million.

The world was able to exceed the first Millennium Development Goal five years early, but the momentum has slowed in recent years, and certain regions of the world are having a slower time producing progressive results. Because of this, the continued consistent reduction of how many people live in poverty and the eradication of all extreme poverty by 2030 is an ambition that will not be an easy goal to reach. However, like the President of World Bank, Jim Yong Kim said, “This is the best story in the world today — these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty.”

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Solutions on How to End HungerSignificant success has been achieved in alleviating global hunger since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000. Of 129 participating countries, 72 met target MDG 1c of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger. Prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries has dropped from 23.3 percent to 12.9 percent over the past 25 years, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Despite such improvement, approximately 793 million people are still starving. How to end hunger remains a significant question.

The disparity exists in the magnitude of advancements between different regions. Countries with stable political and economic conditions and reliable social support met their international hunger targets. But nations in a state of protracted crisis failed due to lack of income opportunities for impoverished groups. Region-specific causes and solutions need to be identified to end hunger. Four underlying causes and resolutions on how to end hunger are listed below.

  1. Poverty Trap
    People stuck in an endless loop of poverty and deprived of nutritious food become weak and unable to work. Farmers without access to land, seeds, tools, fertilizers, clean water or education are incapable of effecting positive change. Such families benefit from financial assistance and voucher programs for food, health insurance and school meals complemented by procurement contracts with local farmers. Conditional transfer programs (CTP) provide backup to low-income families in the form of cash or benefits under the obligation that the family uses the aid to invest in the children’s wellbeing. The first CTP, the Oportunidades program, was initiated in Mexico in 1997. These programs are now prevalent in most developing regions of the world, especially Latin America.Food Assistance for Assets (FFA), established by the World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian organization in the world, provides food assistance to the disadvantaged in exchange for their help in building infrastructural assets that benefit the whole community.
  2. Lack of Agricultural Infrastructure
    Lack of cost-effective resources such as reliable transport, storage and water supply impedes rural farmers’ productivity and access to food. The least-developed, poor economies rely on agriculture for 27-30 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and sustainable farming has a direct positive impact on acute poverty and the “how to end hunger” question. This correlation is more pronounced in an environment of income equality. China drastically lowered poverty from the 80’s to mid-90’s due to agricultural growth from an equal share in the farmland. A comparable impact on poverty reduction is less evident in Latin America and India in spite of higher yields due to unequal land allocation and mechanized farming. Agricultural investment policies for effective land management, use of water and access to resilient seed types aid in ending hunger. Easy access to markets is equally important for smallholder farmers to generate income. Producing food with no avenue for sale is futile. The WFP’s initiative, Purchase for Progress (P4P), provides opportunities for rural farmers to sell their produce in markets, collaborate and expand.
  3. Education
    Education is another key aspect to enhancing sustainable food security. Educating rural populations is critical for smallholder farmers and women to derive benefits from agricultural growth through collaborations in the value chain.It also facilitates recruitment of current uneducated populations in the non-agricultural workforce. This is especially important in economies not predominantly reliant on agriculture. Education gives communities the ability to secure an income and improve earning potential through independent entrepreneurship.Instruction and training resources on nutrition and family planning are crucial tools for preventing malnutrition. According to the World Hunger Education Service, enhanced education for women improves nutrition for the whole family.
  4. Gender Gap
    Gender equality is vital to answering the question of how to end hunger. Women represent approximately 43 percent of the labor force in developing countries. But predispositions regarding women’s roles hamper their contribution to reducing poverty and hunger.Though women’s farming capabilities match that of their male counterparts, reduced access to quality land, seeds, tools, fertilizers, animals and education results in lower yields. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that equal distribution of resources for women would increase yields by 20-30 percent. This translates to an increased output of 2.5-4 percent and 100-150 million more people with access to food.In most societies, women spend 85-90 percent of their time on domestic activities, an added hindrance to their earnings. Rural labor markets also suffer from gender disparity. Women are mostly employed in seasonal, part-time and low-paying jobs. Household obligations, sociocultural norms and lack of education diminishes their potential.Policy interventions including education, elimination of discriminatory segregation, equal access to resources and financial services, sustainable technologies enabling female participation in labor markets and infrastructural improvements to lighten household burdens assuage gender inequality.

Groundbreaking progress has been made but it has been uneven and the end goal not met. About half of deaths in children under five are caused by malnutrition, resulting in three million lives lost each year. The question of how to end hunger is complex and urgent. The answer lies in integrated strategies targeting region-specific needs. The Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the U.N. in 2015 provide strategic solutions to achieving the goal of food security, improving nutrition and ending hunger. As the FAO Director General, Graziano da Silva said, “We must be the Zero Hunger generation.” Anything short of this is unacceptable.

Preeti Yadav

Photo: Flickr

Zero Hunge
On Dec. 6, 2016, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released the first post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report, 2016 Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Insecurity — Investing in a Zero Hunger Generation. According to the report, although the Asia-Pacific Region met the MDG target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger, “the overall rate of progress is less than desired, and there are several countries and sub-regions where the prevalence rates are still very high.”

Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs)

In September of 2015, world leaders adopted the Agenda for Sustainable Development, which features 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The second goal (SDG2) of the agenda reads, “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” The report warns that progress towards achieving zero hunger has slowed, and must increase in order to reach SDG2’s target by 2030. In addition, the report says fully eliminating the prevalence of undernourishment, as well as reducing other forms of malnutrition across the Asia-Pacific region will be a challenge.

5th Global Forum

The U.N. FAO report was featured at the 5th Global Forum of Leaders for Agricultural Science and Technology (GLAST-2016), a three-day event in December that took place in Hainan, China. The theme of the forum was “Eliminating poverty and hunger through Science and Technology,” and discussions focused on solutions to the challenges facing agricultural development. One of the attendees was FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Kundhavi Kadiresan, who said, “Most countries in this region are spending too little on agricultural research…we will, collectively, need to put our money where our mouths are to ensure we can meet these twin challenges [SDG2].”

Achieving Zero Hunger

According to the report, although economic growth is part of achieving SDG2, it is not nearly enough. Agriculture and food sustainability face resource scarcity and a changing, often unpredictable, climate, and growth in the agricultural sector is much more important. Investing in ways to improve agricultural production in order to enhance food availability is essential. Therefore, these should be the focus of government programs and policies that are intended to increase food and nutrition security.

Kristin Westad

Photo: Flickr


Despite an aggregate economic growth, Vanuatu’s regions are developing unevenly, leaving some areas more vulnerable than others. To achieve its Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty in Vanuatu from the current rate of 12.7 percent to two percent, both local leaders and international actors need to consider the country’s unique vulnerabilities and strengths.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 26 percent of the population lives in the urban centers of Port Vila (capital) and Luganville. Vanuatu’s population of just over 277,000 inhabits 65 of the 80 islands in the country’s archipelago.

This geography plays a key role in understanding poverty in Vanuatu. According to the U.N. Development Programme, geographic factors create a more statistically significant barrier to energy and basic goods than do vulnerabilities in population such as age, gender or income level.

Vanuatu’s geography is defined by dramatic tropical volcanic mountains that rise from shallow coastlines. It is along these edges that most of Vanuatu’s population lives, either in port towns or rural villages.

Even in a relatively small island nation, the plight of the urban poor and rural poor are not easily delineated. Indeed, different areas experience varied iterations of development. For example, from 2006 to 2010, rates of food poverty (not having sufficient access to basic food goods) declined from approximately five percent to three percent in Port Vila, but increased from approximately two percent to eight percent in Luganville over the same period. Similarly, while average poverty rates in Luganville increased from 2006 to 2010, overall rates of poverty in rural areas fell.

These discrepancies emerge largely because of geographic location, which determines principle economic activities such as fishing and tourism. Access to basic foodstuffs also depends on weather patterns and agricultural production, which are especially interdependent on small, shallow islands.

These coastal communities are threatened by rising sea levels and increasingly frequent tropical storms such as Cyclone Pam, which swept through the Pacific in 2015, destroying up to 96 percent of food crops on some of Vanuatu’s southernmost islands.
Although Vanuatu is susceptible to extreme weather, traditionally sound building practices offer light, but flexible, protection and help. These practices aid in minimizing fatalities in emergencies.

An increase in telecommunication infrastructure also proved to be life-saving. When Cyclone Pam hit, SMS text alerts notified island residents. In many cases, it was the only effective warning system that allowed citizens to prepare accordingly. This access to modern technology can help growing populations confront increasingly frequent extreme weather movements.

Despite these obstacles, the Asian Development Bank reports the overall poverty rate of Vanuatu as low relative to other small nations in the Pacific. Recently, increases in tourism, agricultural production and foreign aid and investment are reflected in Vanuatu’s positive economic growth.

USAID recognizes the delicate geographic circumstances of Pacific islands such as Vanuatu, as nearly 50 percent of the Pacific Islander population lives within a mile of a coastline. USAID is committed to alleviating poverty in Vanuatu by building infrastructure that will withstand pressures from both climate change and extreme weather.

By understanding the unique circumstances of island nations such as Vanuatu, the U.S. and other global economic powerhouses can allocate aid in ways that are both culturally and geographically appropriate, helping to lift these vulnerable populations out of poverty.

– Laurel Klafehn
Photo: Flickr

prioritizing Global Education
In a report recently released by UNESCO, only 64 of the 157 countries tied to the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) met the 2015 deadline for complete accessibility to global education.

While the U.N.’s sustainable development goal on education (SDG4), launched last September, strives to achieve universal education for both primary and secondary levels by 2030, only 12 countries are expected to achieve its goal by 2030. The U.S. is not expected to meet the goal until 2040.

What is causing the delay?

According to the director of the global education monitoring report, Aaron Benavot, there are two primary reasons for the slow progress made in reaching targets set out by MDG and SDG4. Benavot cites continued political instability, conflict and economic as well as social inequalities as casual factors. In addition, the director also notes that aid is not being distributed equally or prioritized to those countries that may need it the most.

Mongolia has universal primary completion already, but received 15 times the amount of aid to education per child than Chad […], where only just a quarter of children are completing primary education,” Benavot explained to The Guardian.

Why is prioritizing global education important?

  1. If universal secondary education were to be achieved by 2030, there would be 20,000 fewer natural-disaster-related deaths over the next two decades.
  2. If all children had a primary education, as many as 700,000 cases of HIV could be prevented each year.
  3. Educating women would prevent up to 3.5 million child deaths between 2050 and 2060. According to UNICEF, educating a woman would also dramatically reduce the chance her child will die before the age of five.
  4. A country that has 10 percentage points more of its youths in schools reduces its risk of conflict from 14% to around 10%.
  5. According to UNESCO, if all students in low-income countries learned basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, resulting in a 12% decline in global poverty.

Although funds may support greater accessibility to global education for millions of children as well as prepare them to contribute to their country’s economies, education’s impacts cross multiple sectors — health, mortality rates and international conflict. Education is the disguised powerhouse towards successfully eradicating poverty. Meeting the U.N.’s SDGs by 2030 should be the number one priority.

Priscilla Son
Photo: Flickr

Health in AfricaOn August 26, the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, TB and Malaria (Global Fund) committed to investing $24 billion to accelerate universal health coverage in Africa. The funding aims to achieve universal health coverage in Africa (UHC) by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The announcement of funding was made at the sixth annual Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD-VI). The investment will fund UHC in Africa: A Framework for Action, a plan launched by the World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), the government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Global Fund and the African Development Bank. The framework targets specific areas that will greatly contribute to the achievement of UHC in Africa including financing, service delivery, targeting vulnerable populations, mobilizing critical sectors and political leadership.

Over the next five years, the World Bank plans to contribute $15 billion under the Global Financing Facility, Power of Nutrition, early childhood development, pandemic preparedness, targeting the poor, crisis preparedness and response and leveraging the private sector. The Global Fund has committed an additional $9 billion in funding between 2017 and 2019 to treat and prevent HIV, malaria and TB.

Emphasizing the importance of good health for economic productivity, the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, stated, “African countries can become more competitive in the global economy by making several strategic investments, including investing more in their people, their most prized resource.”

Today, millions of impoverished people cannot afford proper health care and are further entrenched in poverty as a result. The provision of universal health care in Africa would create boundless opportunities for individuals to access health care and work towards prosperity.

Not only does ill-health have devastating effects on an individual basis, but it also drastically affects the economy. Poor health impedes impoverished populations from working and prevents children from attending school. Well-designed universal health care can help alleviate the burdens of poor health, including creating employment opportunities in the healthcare industry.

In 2012, the U.N. called on the international community to substantially increase its funding for health care in developing nations. Marking December 12 as ‘Universal Health Coverage Day’ and turning it into an international movement, the global community increasingly emphasizes the positive outcomes of UHC and the importance of new, innovative ways to reach the most impoverished populations.

Recognizing the importance of achieving UHC, African Heads of State, in conjunction with the World Bank and Global Fund, have vowed a commitment to the push for UHC across the continent. Through international funding, a strategic framework and both regional and global support, UHC in Africa could be an obtainable MDG by 2030.

Anna O’Toole

Photo: Flickr

Malaysia_Poverty
The Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia is not a desperately poor country. Poverty in Malaysia is fairly low — the percentage of citizens at or below the national poverty line was 0.6 percent in 2014. Life expectancy and the infant mortality rate are about the same as in the U.S. and the GDP is growing.

Reducing poverty in Malaysia has come a long way since 1990 when the United Nations introduced the Millennium Development Goals. The first goal for the U.N. — to halve the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day by 2015 — was reached in Malaysia.

However, Malaysia has significant poverty and income inequality lurking just below the surface. While extreme poverty in Malaysia (income of less than $1.25 per day) is down to less than one percent, more than 25 percent of the population lives on less than $5 per day. Furthermore, about 60 percent of Malaysian families live on less than $1600 a month according to Al Jazeera.

About 20 million of the 30 million people in Malaysia live on the peninsula and approximately 72 percent of the population is urban.

The area in the need of the most support is the rural sector of Sabah on the island of Borneo. Borneo is a large island shared by Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia so migration around the island is common.

The country is now home to about 2 million immigrants due to migration and recent political turmoil in neighboring Thailand. At this time there is no process for asylum seekers in Malaysia.

Both legal and illegal immigrants are known to be treated harshly and do not receive government support. It is imperative for the Malaysian government to address the needs of migrants as they make up over 10 percent of the population.

Malaysia also has relatively high levels of income inequality. The GINI index measures how much income levels deviate from totally equal distribution. Malaysia places higher than most countries, including all of its neighboring countries and the United States, with a GINI index of 46.2.

Malaysia stands out among its surroundings despite these problems. Nations like Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines all hover around a 25 percent poverty rate and an infant mortality rate that is between three and seven times higher than Malaysia.

Malaysia is also the only country among them with a functional and robust social welfare system. It is clear that further steps must be taken but remarkable progress has been made to reduce poverty in Malaysia in the past few decades.

John English

Photo: Flickr

Millennium_Development
The United Nations (U.N.) gathered in New York late last November to celebrate positive progress on the 2015 Millennium Development Goals made to curb one of the world’s deadliest diseases: malaria. Global leaders, diplomats, and health experts were also present to witness the good news.

“Today, we celebrate major advances in our fight against malaria,” U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said in a message.

In 2000, a set of eight universally-agreed goals to rid the world of extreme poverty and disease by 2015 was developed by the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The program saw much success, particularly regarding malaria.

“The world’s success in rolling back malaria shows just what can be achieved with the right kind of determination and partnerships,” said Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the UN General Assembly. “It provides bold inspiration to all nations that seek to create a healthy environment for their children and adults. We can and we must eliminate malaria by 2030.”

In order to achieve the 2030 target, the UN says that they will need full cooperation from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the World Health Organization (WHO). “In it, we have the path forward,” said Lykketoft. “I urge all members states to fully support implementation of this strategic plan.”

The UN announced that it surpassed MDG goals to “bring reversing malaria incidence by 2015.” Their progress is responsible for 6.2 million averted malaria deaths, 97 percent of which are young children.

Over 100 countries are declared “free” of malaria. Another 55 are on track to reduce new malaria cases by at least 75 percent by the end of the year. African countries are even seeing fewer malaria cases, a historical statistic for a continent that has struggled against the disease.

Despite the progress made, WHO estimates that approximately 214 million people were infected with malaria in 2015. Of that staggering number, 472,000 people lost their lives, a large percentage of which were children under the age of five.

Advancements in technology, as well as new measures, have helped reduce malaria deaths by up to 20 percent in African children since 2000. About 95,000 newborn deaths related to malaria pregnancy have also been averted between 2009 and 2012.

Although health ministers will move away from the eight Millennium Development Goals and transition to a new set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) next year, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership is “urging continued commitment to achieve malaria elimination by 2030” while also helping to advance development across government sectors.

“Under MDGs, we have seen what can be achieved when we join our efforts and come together in a coordinated fashion,” said Herv Verhoosel, Representative from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Secretariat in New York.

“As we set our sights on elimination, we stand to avert nearly 3 billion cases of infection and generate some $4 trillion in additional economic output over the next 15 years,” he said. “But we must ensure political commitment and predictable financial resources necessary to carry us over the finish line.”

Alyson Atondo

Sources: San Antonio Post, UN 1, UN 2
Photo: Flickr

 

 

 

Millennium_Development_GoalsAs 2015 comes to a close and the world takes a look at the progress that has been made in global poverty relief, it is clear that significant progress has been achieved. The list of what has been accomplished is extensive, but here are some of the top Millennium Development Goals successes:

  1. Between 1990 and 2015 the number of people living in extreme poverty went from 1.9 billion to 836 million people. That’s 1,090 million people who no longer live in poverty.
  2. The number of primary school age children who were out of school dropped globally from 100 million to 57 million. That’s 43 million more children able to go to school.
  3. In 1990, for every 100 boys that attended school in Asia, there were only 74 girls attending. That number has now risen from 74 to 103 girls.
  4. The number of infant deaths under age 5 has declined from 12.7 million to in 1990, to 6 million today.
  5. In 1990, only 2.3 billion people had access to clean drinking water. That number has now climbed to 4.2 billion.
  6. 99 percent of all countries have more women in parliament than they did in 1990.
  7. The child mortality rate has been reduced from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births, and it continues to fall.
  8. The number of people living on only $1.25 a day has gone from 47 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2015.

While the Millennium Development Goals have had many successes, some goals have not been reached. World leaders have come together once again to decide on the new long-term sustainability goals, building on the past successes.

According to the UN, The Sustainable Development Goals, “will break fresh ground with ambition on inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, cities and human settlements, industrialization, energy, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, peace and justice.”

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: The Guardian, UN
Photo: Flickr

millennium_development_goalsIn the year 2000, world leaders agreed upon the Millennium Development Goals to address extreme poverty.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), “the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.”

Now that 2015 is coming to an end, the world is evaluating the success of the MDGs. While the overall targets were not met, significant progress has been made toward achieving several of the stated goals.

The official report declares, “The 15-year effort to achieve the eight aspirational goals set out in the Millennium Declaration in 2000 was largely successful across the globe, while acknowledging shortfalls that remain. The data and analysis presented in the report show that with targeted interventions, sound strategies, adequate resources and political will, even the poorest can make progress.”

In terms of fighting poverty, the MDGs produced the largest and most successful anti-poverty movement so far in the world’s history. With every country focused on the effort, the results have been impressive and inspirational.

For example, looking closer at the goal of education: “Primary school enrollment figures have shown an impressive rise, but the goal of achieving universal primary education has just been missed, with the net enrollment rate increasing from 83 percent in 2000 to 91 percent this year,” according to The Guardian.

Each target area received similar improvements. But the biggest result that has come from the MDGs is a determination to succeed in ensuring sustainability for future generations of the world’s citizens. Since the conclusion of the MDGs, countries have regrouped and pushed on into phase two: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN has caught hold of the vision and is pressing forward. “The United Nations is… defining Sustainable Development Goals as part a new sustainable development agenda that must finish the job and leave no one behind.”

Katherine Martin

Sources: UNDP 1, UNDP 2, The Guardian, UN
Photo: Pixabay