The United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report 2011
A Digested Read… in no way sanctioned by the UN.
Each year the United Nations produces its “Millennium Development Goals Report” describing the world’s progress towards the achievement of the MDGs. It’s not an easy read – both the good and the bad a buried amongst dispassionately reported facts, totally emotionless and littered with massive understatement. The way it’s written makes it phenomenally easy to read extraordinary statements like “12,000 fewer children died per day in 2009 than in 1990” and for it to not register.
I know it’s a little delayed, but I’ve been busy setting up Generation Development over the last couple of months, however here I have digested the report for you…
Foreword (Ban Ki-Moon)
Doing well in some areas, but need to do better in many others. Claims MDGs are responsible for lifting millions out of poverty (but really mainly Asian economic growth etc, but a nice idea). However if you’re a woman, or disabled, or another minority, and live in the countryside, faced with rising food prices or flooding or famine: still not much luck. Are we going to make the targets for 2015… You decide…
MDG1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Economic growth = less poverty, awesome! Extreme poverty projected to fall below 15% by 2015 (even with the economic crisis). Target: met. Instead of being the bottom billion, by 2015 it will be the (arguably less catchy) bottom 900 million. Still problems with surveying the poorest people, with limited data in Africa. However the economic crisis has had its effects: limited job creation, increased number of working poor, and static numbers in vulnerable employment – must do better.
Despite lifting hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty, the same number of people remained hungry, at around 16%. Also 23% children remain undernourished (reduced from 30% in 1990, but generally static). Probably as a result of high food prices. Commodity speculators have a lot to answer for. As does climate change. Target: missed.
For some reason there is a section on displaced people included under MDG1. In 2010 there were 43 million (same population as Tanzania), the highest since 1990. But as it’s not a goal I suppose it was important to fit it in somewhere.
MDG2: Universal primary education
Sub-Sahara African success story! Doing the best. Numbers increasing across the world, but this increase has slowed recently. No such luck however if your poor, female, a refugee or live in a conflict zone. Literacy still a problem in sub-Saharan Africa, but South Asia and North Africa storming ahead. Target: ? near miss
MDG3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Mixed bag when considering gender parity and education, depending on which level you look at and in which region. Overall: definitely improved since 1990, however some regions need to do better. Target: 50/50
Women in employment: increased a bit since 1990, but stagnated since the economic crisis. Women who became unemployed have found it much more difficult to re-enter employment after the crash. Target: missed.
More women in parliaments around the world than ever before, but far off parity at 19%. Again, although improved, women also do not yet wield the ultimate power of either head of state (10 heads) or head of government (13 heads). Unsurprisingly, whether you are for or against them, enforcing quotas improves things.
MDG4: Reduce child mortality
“Achieving the goal for child survival hinges on action to address the leading causes of death” – wisdom from the UN. However massive improvements in child mortality:
- 12,000 fewer children dying every day.
- Global under-5 mortality declined by a third.
- Great gains made in Northern Africa and Eastern Asia.
Sub-Saharan Africa still a real problem however, with 1/8 children not reaching age 5, that’s 18x more than the developed world, and a blight on the face of our planet. Here Gates has got it right, children die of TREATABLE diseases: diarrhoea, malaria, pneumonia. Why have we failed to treat them? Again, if your poor and live in a rural area you risk of dying is significantly more than your urban dwelling well off peers.
Measles is a global health success story, with 80% children receiving the vaccine in 2009. The campaign has resulted in a 78% drop in measles mortality worldwide! AWESOME! However it must be sustainable to maintain population immunity.
Target: in reach, if sub-Saharan Africa pulls itself round.