MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

The Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight targets agreed upon by almost all countries around the world. (For a more in-depth description of the MDGs, review this excellent post by Delice Williams: https://borgenproject.org/what-are-the-un-millennium-development-goals) Overseen by the United Nations, these goals are to be reached by 2015. Two years out from this deadline, it’s important to recognize how much progress we have made, and how far we have to go. This is the first in a series of posts that will do just that, focusing on each MDG individually in order to better understand the intricacies of each one.

The first MDG states that we will eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. This goal consists of three facets:

  1. Cut the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.25/day in half between 1990 and 2015.
  2. Ensure the opportunity for full and productive employment and decent work for everyone, including women and young people
  3. Cut the proportion of people who suffer from hunger in half between 1990 and 2015

The first of these goals, to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, was met five years ahead of schedule. This represents 700 million less people facing extreme poverty in 2010 than in 1990. Extreme poverty is falling in every region. It is incredibly encouraging to know that progress is possible everywhere, especially considering that 1.2 billion people around the world are still living in extreme poverty.

In regards to the second goal, 294 million workers have been raised out of extreme poverty as of 2011. However, this still leaves 384 million workers living on less than $1.25 per day. Progress in this area has been made in part through UN partnerships with governments that provide job training for unemployed youth in developing countries. One such program, The Youth Employment Fund, was instated in Serbia, where over 2000 young Serbs were given job training and opportunities for work.

Despite significant progress towards the second goal, a significant gender gap remains. The employment percentage was still almost 25% higher for men than for women in 2012. UN Women, a women’s rights group sponsored by the United Nations, has been working towards this goal by empowering women in the workplace, especially when it comes to food production. Women all over the world are benefiting from their programs, such as those in Timor-Leste and Rwanda. These programs include self-help groups and agricultural training, as well as financial education that gives women more sway when it comes to family financial decisions.

According the UN’s progress report, the goal of halving the proportion of hungry people around the world is within reach by 2015. In fact, 38 countries have already met this target. However, roughly 1 in 8 people worldwide still go to sleep hungry each night, and about 870 million people are still undernourished. While undernutrition is a significant problem, malnutrition affects many more people worldwide, with two billion people suffering from one or more micronutrient deficiencies.

With advancements in each of the three facets of the first MDG, we should celebrate our success. And yet, with billions of people still facing extreme poverty and hunger every day, we must continue to make progress.

This series will continue by considering the significant advancements made and work to be done in regards to the second MDG, the achievement of universal primary education.

– Katie Fullerton

Sources: UN Women, UN NewsCentre, UN MDGs
Photo: Mwebantu,