Friday, September 12, 2008

Progress in achieving UN anti-poverty goals for 2015 under threat, new report finds

By: UN Department of Public Information
NITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 11 September - The world has made strong and sustained progress in reducing extreme poverty, the United Nations reports today, but this is now being undercut by higher prices, particularly of food and oil, and the global economic slowdown.Since 2002, rising prices for minerals and agricultural raw materials have contributed to the remarkable run of economic growth in all developing regions, according to the UN's Millennium Development Goals Report 2008. However, many developing countries are now facing higher import bills for food and fuel, jeopardizing their growth.Improved estimates of poverty from the World Bank show that the number of poor in the developing world is larger than previously thought, at 1.4 billion people. But the new estimates confirm that between 1990 and 2005, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen - from 1.8 to 1.4 billion - and that the 1990 global poverty rate is likely to be halved by 2015. However, these aggregates mask large disparities among regions. Most of the decline occurred in Eastern Asia, particularly China. Other regions have seen much smaller decreases in the poverty rate and only modest falls in the number of poor. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the number of poor increased between 1990 and 2005.In a reversal of this previous global downward trend, the prevailing higher food prices are expected to push many people into poverty, the report says, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, already the regions with the largest numbers of people living in extreme poverty."The largely benign development environment that has prevailed since the early years of this decade, and that has contributed to the successes to date, is now threatened," Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon declares in the foreword to the report. "The economic slowdown will diminish the incomes of the poor; the food crisis will raise the number of hungry people in the world and push millions more into poverty; climate change will have a disproportionate impact on the poor," the Secretary-General said. "The need to address these concerns, pressing as they are, must not be allowed to detract from our long-term efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. On the contrary, our strategy must be to keep the focus on the MDGs as we confront these new challenges."Action on the UN agendaGiven the nexus between poverty, climate change, food and fuel costs, these issues will be taken up as a group as the General Assembly re-convenes at the UN this month.Secretary-General Ban has called for a special high-level event to boost global action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, on 25 September. Nearly 100 Heads of State and Government are expected to participate, as well as many leaders from the private sector, foundations and civil society organizations. They are expected to announce a number of new initiatives and broaden coalitions to address health, poverty, food and climate change issues, at the meeting itself or during its many side events. The incoming President of the General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, has cited action on the food crisis as a major theme for the new session that kicks off on 16 September. On 22 September, the Assembly holds a high-level meeting on the development needs of Africa, a region facing severe challenges in terms of climate change, agriculture and poverty reduction.Progress and challengesFirst agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000, the MDGs set worldwide objectives for reducing extreme poverty and deprivation, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015. The Millennium Development Goals Report, now in its fourth year, assembles statistics from 25 UN and international agencies, and is produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). "Looking ahead to 2015 and beyond, there is no question that we can achieve the overarching goal: we can put an end to poverty," Secretary-General Ban states in the foreword to the report. "But it requires an unswerving, collective, long-term effort." Among the MDG gains noted in the report released today:· Primary school enrolment has reached 90 per cent, and is in striking distance of the 2015 goal of 100 per cent, in all but two out of 10 regions of the world.· Within primary schools, gender parity (share of girls' enrolment as compared to boys') is at 95 per cent in six out of 10 regions.· Deaths from measles have been cut in one third between 2000 and 2006, and the vaccination rate among developing world children has reached 80 per cent.· More than one and a half billion people have gained access to clean drinking water since 1990 - but due to stress on freshwater resources nearly three billion people now live in regions facing water scarcity. · With help from the private sector, mobile phone technology and access to essential medicines are spreading in the poorest countries.· Thanks in part to debt write-offs from international lenders, spending on social services in developing countries is up: the share of developing countries' export earnings spent on external debt servicing fell from 12.5 per cent in 2000 to 6.6 per cent in 2006, freeing up resources that can be devoted to meeting the health and educational needs of the poor.But many of the eight Millennium Development Goals and linked targets are in danger of going unmet by the deadline year of 2015 without redoubled efforts in developing countries, a sustained favourable international environment for development and increased donor support. Among the remaining challenges: · More than half a million mothers in developing countries die in childbirth or from pregnancy complications every year.· About one quarter of developing world children are undernourished.· Almost half of the developing world population still lack improved sanitation facilities.· More than one third of the growing urban population in the developing world are living in slums.· Almost two thirds of employed women in developing countries hold vulnerable jobs as self-employed or unpaid family workers.Achieving the Goals is feasible, the report says, but it will require a greater financial commitment, including delivery by the developed countries of the increased foreign aid that they have promised in the past few years. For more information, please see

Asia poverty level down, child health poor - U.N. report

By Melanie Lee
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Asia is making progress in reducing extreme poverty but faces an uphill battle to improve child nutrition and lower child mortality rates, the United Nations said on Thursday.
The U.N.'s annual Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report, released on Thursday in New Delhi, showed East Asia and Southeast Asia making the most progress in reducing poverty levels, although South Asia lagged behind.
In South Asia, progress was slow in India, with the number of people living in extreme poverty rising by 20 million between 1990 and 2005, the report said. But it did manage to lower its poverty levels to 41 percent from 52 percent in the same period, officials said.
The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living with less than $1.25 a day and poverty as living on less than $2 a day.
The MDGs are eight social and economic development benchmarks set by the world body for nations to accomplish by 2015. They include reducing poverty levels, increasing universal education and fighting the spread of AIDS.
India is not on track to meet half its MDGs by 2015, experts presenting the report said. More political will is required to reduce extreme poverty and hunger, improve maternal health and combat diseases.
"Policies are not the issues, there are very many good policies, it's all about the implementation," Maxine Olson, the U.N. resident coordinator, said in New Delhi during the launch.
Olson said India also needed to bring down child mortality rates.
In 2006, 2.1 million children under five years of age died in India, the biggest number after China.
India is the world's second most populous nation and UNICEF said global efforts to improve child survival would fail unless it did better.
In East Asia and Southeast Asia, the number of people living under the extreme poverty line dropped to 18 percent in 2005 from 56 percent in 1990.
Overall, child malnutrition remained high in Asia, especially in South Asia, home to half of the world's underweight children. East Asia, by contrast, faired better, with only seven percent of all children malnourished in 2005.
Child malnutrition accounts for more than one third of all deaths of children under five, the report said.

UN chief unveils report on flagging world fight against poverty

UNITED NATIONS: UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday unveiled a report warning that poverty reduction goals agreed by world leaders eight years ago may not be met by the 2015 target date, particularly in Africa. The UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Report 2008 was released ahead of a summit meeting on the MDGs, scheduled for September 25 on the margins of the UN General Assembly session. It noted that improved data from the World Bank confirmed that between 1990 and 2005, the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped from 1.8 to 1.4 billion and that the 1990 global poverty rate was likely to be halved by 2015. "But while most of this decline occurred in East Asia, particularly China, other regions had much smaller decreases in the poverty rate and only modest falls in the number of poor," it said. "Sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet republics actually saw the number of poor increase between 1990 and 2005." The September 25 gathering, which will be held three days after a high-level meeting here focused on Africa's development, will be the first summit on the MDGs since 2000. Ban told a press conference that 150 countries, including more than 90 heads of state or government, would be represented at the two gatherings which he said were aimed at really working "more for the poorest of the poor, the bottom billion trapped in poverty." Turning to the MDGs, the UN secretary general told a press conference that "despite the challenges, there are enough successes to prove that most of the poor are reachable in most countries." "We must really galvanize political will and mobilize necessary resources," he added. "I expect all participants (at the upcoming meetings) to announce specific initiatives or commitments and lay out plans to realize them." In 2000, world leaders gathered at a UN summit here agreed on eight development goals to be implemented by all countries by 2015, including halving the number of people living below the poverty line - now set at $ 1.25 a day - between 1990 and 2015. Other MDGs focus on achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating diseases such as HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability and creating global partnerships for development. (Economics Times)

Asian poverty fell to 18pc, UN report F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The percentage of people living below the newly redefined poverty line of $1.25 a day in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia fell from 56 per cent in 1990 to 18 per cent only fifteen years later, according to a United Nations progress report released Thursday. These two regions have already met the Millennium Development Goals target of reducing 1990 levels of extreme poverty by half. Progress in reducing extreme poverty was slower in Southern Asia, where the pace will need to accelerate for the region to be able to meet the target. In India, for example, poverty decreased from 52 to 41 per cent between 1990 and 2005. Because of population growth, however, the number of people living in extreme poverty rose by 20 million during this period. Poverty reduction will not be achieved without full and productive employment and decent work for all. But in Southern Asia, 83 per cent of employed women and 73 per cent of employed men are classified as “vulnerable” – working as self-employed or unpaid family workers. As the Millennium Development Goals Report 2008 noted, even in South-Eastern and Eastern Asia almost two-thirds of women and over half of men hold insecure jobs.Strikingly, although progress was made in reducing extreme poverty, child malnutrition –a key indicator of hunger and poverty – remains remarkably high in many parts of Asia, the report finds. Southern Asia has a larger proportion of underweight children than any other developing region – with 46 per cent of children under five severely or moderately underweight in 2006, down from 54 per cent in 1990. Child malnutrition also remains high in South-Eastern Asia, at 25 per cent. The exception is represented by Eastern Asia, which managed to bring malnutrition levels down to 7 per cent in 2005 – the second best performance among all developing regions, after Northern Africa. Success in primary education: A different picture emerges from looking at access to primary education. Progress was remarkable in Southern Asia. The region reached 90 per cent enrolment in 2006, up from only 72 per cent in 1991. And as part of its success in raising total primary enrolment, Southern Asia has made the most progress among all regions in gender parity – from 77 girls per 100 boys enrolled in 1991 to 95 girls per 100 boys enrolled in 2006. Similarly, over the same period, the ratio of girls to boys improved in secondary education from 60 to 85. The pattern for primary education in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia is different, the report notes. Here, there were already very high levels of enrolment in the 1990s, but recent progress has been patchy. Rates have actually deteriorated recently in Eastern Asia, and an initial decrease over the 1990s was followed by only a marginal upsurge in South-Eastern Asia. Progress was also uneven with regard to gender equality. Southern Asia emerges as the sub-region where the percentage issued by the UN Department of Public Information of paid jobs held by women is the lowest among all developing regions, only 19 per cent in 2006. But Eastern Asia is rapidly moving towards parity, reaching a 2006 rate of 41 per cent. In South-Eastern Asia, the situation has remained static, although starting from a relatively high level.In terms of political decision-making, the report found that Southern Asian women made wide gains, with their proportion of parliamentary seats almost doubling between 2000 and 2008 (from 6.7 to 12.9 per cent) and in South-Eastern Asia, women’s participation rose from 9.7 to 17.4. In Eastern Asia, on the other hand, there has been no progress, and the percentage of seats held by women has actually dropped slightly since 1990. Poor record on reproductive health: Southern Asia has the poorest performance among all developing regions in providing adequate reproductive health services to women, the report found. Although there has been progress since 1990, this is the region with the lowest percentage of births attended by health personnel (only 40 per cent in 2006) and the lowest proportion of women attended during pregnancy (65 per cent in 2005). Poor attention to women’s reproductive health is reflected in the high number of maternal deaths, and its ranking as second only to sub-Saharan Africa in high maternal mortality ratios. Despite some progress, child mortality remains unacceptably high in Southern Asia. Greater gains were recorded in South-Eastern Asia. The number of child deaths per 1000 live births in 2006 was less than half its level in 1990, putting the region on track to meet the target of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. The Asian region also has a poor environmental record. Economic growth brought a rapid increase in carbon dioxide emissions in Eastern Asia, from 2.9 billion metric tons in 1990 to 6.1 billion in 2005. Eastern Asia now has the largest CO2 emissions among all regions of the world, and the largest emissions per unit of gross domestic product. Over the same period, emissions doubled in Southern Asia – from 1 to 2 billion metric tons – and tripled in South-Eastern Asia, from 0.4 to 1.2 billion metric tons. In addition, Southern Asia and South-Eastern Asia hold the second and third lowest proportion of environmentally protected land and marine areas among all regions. In adopting the Millennium Declaration in the year 2000, the international community pledged to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty.” The MDGs encapsulate the development aspirations of the world as a whole. But they are not only development objectives; they encompass universally accepted human values and rights such as freedom from hunger, the right to basic education, the right to health and a responsibility to future generations. (The Frontier Post)

India far from poverty goals: Report

NEW DELHI: The United Nations Development Programme’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) report for 2008 is a cocktail of contradictions.
Poverty levels in India, it says, have gone down from 52% to 41% from 1990 to 2005. But population growth coupled with runaway inflation has led to a huge increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty in the country — 20 million —during the 15-year-period.
Moreover, the report adds, the overall economic slowdown and increased food and oil prices are expected to further push more people into absolute poverty.
It was at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 when 189 world leaders made a historic promise to end poverty by 2015 and agreed to achieve the eight MDGs - reduce poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child and maternal mortality, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure access to water and sanitation and provide access to affordable and essential drugs.
Seven years to go for the deadline, India’s chances of achieving these goals appear quite bleak with about 46 million malnourished children and huge gaps in literacy and employment among men and women.
While on one side increasing enrolment in primary classes has been substantial due to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the lack of water and sanitation for girls and high drop-out rate at the secondary level remains an area of concern, the report states. Another prime area for worry is the high infant and maternal mortality rates (MMR).
“Going by the current trend it is unlikely India will achieve its target of reducing MMR unless all states make substantial progress like Kerala and Tamil Nadu,” said Maxine Olson, resident co-ordinator of UNDP in India. With regard to combating malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs, though access to anti-retroviral therapy is increasing for the latter, much remains to be done.
Releasing the report, Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee said India has made sustained progress but much has to be achieved.
The UN will hold a meeting in New York later this year where all country heads are expected to reveal plans to meet the MDGs. Prime minister Manmohan Singh is expected to attend the

Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) Report 2008

Today, the United Nations issued the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) Report 2008, summarizing progress towards the MDGs. Some of the highlights of the report include:
*Deaths from measles fell from over 750,000 in 2000 to less than250,000 in 2006, and about 80% of children in developing countries nowreceive a measles vaccine;
*Malaria prevention is expanding with increases in the use ofinsecticide-treated bed nets among children under five in sub-SaharanAfrica and 16 out of 20 countries at least tripling use since 2000;
*Some 1.6 billion people have gained access to safe drinkingwater since 1990.
In 2008, at the midpoint to achieving the MDGs by 2015, we'vemade unprecedented accomplishments. Yet, many challenges remain. At this critical time, we must all redouble our efforts to ensure theMDGs are achieved. Together, our generation can end extreme poverty,hunger and preventable disease.

Millennium Promise