BELCHERTOWN, Massachusetts — In September of 2000, the world leaders of the United Nations came together for a Millennium Summit, with the purpose of committing themselves to the idea of fair and equitable global development. Agreeing on a Millennium Declaration, the leaders created the following eight Millennium Development Goals:
1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
4: Reduce Child Mortality
5: Improve Maternal Health
6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases
7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
The aim was that all of the above goals would be met by the year 2015. Fourteen years later, and only a year away from the MDG deadline, the United Nations recently released a MDG 2014 Report, the progress of the MDGs and where there is room for improvement.
Under MDG #1, the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, there are three targets that mark the progress needed to achieve the overarching goal. The first target, Target 1.A, reads, “Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.”
In 1990, the United Nations reported that almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than a $1.25 a day. The international poverty line was set at $1 a day when the MDGs were established; however, in 2008 the World Bank defined people living in extreme poverty as those living on less than a $1.25 a day, acknowledging the rise of price levels above original estimates.
Target 1.A. has been met since its conception in 2000, as the 50 percent rate of those living in poverty in developing regions dropped to 22% in 2010. On a global scale, 36 percent of the world’s population lived on less than a $1.25 a day in 1990 and since then, the global percent dropped to 18 percent, also reflecting a completion of Target 1.A.
However, regional data reflects a need for improvement. While some regions, like Eastern and South Eastern Asia, have met Target 1.A, other regions including sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia have far to go. In fact, according to World Bank predictions, sub-Saharan Africa will be unable to meet this target by the MDG 2015 deadline. The top five countries with the largest portion of the global extreme poor includes India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The U.N. currently estimates that one in five people in developing regions live on less than $1.25 a day.
The second target under MDG #1, Target 1.B, reads, “Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.” This target has not reached the success achieved by the first target. The number of unemployed people has increased by 28 million since 2007, with an estimated 39 people dropping out of the labor market. There are currently 67 million people without jobs, with many citing their difficulties as a result of the global financial crisis.
According to the MDG 2014 Report, “vulnerable employment” made up 56 percent of all employment in developing countries, compared to 10 percent in developed regions. Vulnerable employment signifies a high percent of unpaid family members as well as informal working arrangements. Employees under this category often suffer from strenuous tasks, low incomes and a lack of social protection or worker’s benefits. While Western Asia was unable to drop their vulnerable rate more than 1.2% between 2008 and 2013, the rate of vulnerable employment actually increased in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The final target under MDG Goal #1, Target 1.C reads, “Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.” According to the MDG 2014 Report, about 173 million fewer people worldwide suffered from chronic hunger in between 2011 and 2013 than in 1990-1992. While hunger has continued to decline, the numbers do not look favorable for the 2015 deadline.
Despite this continued need for progress, many crucial, innovative programs have been conceived from the objectives of MDG #1. One program, highlighted by the U.N., is the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Food for Girls’ Education Programme. Having existed in Yemen since 2007, the program provides food assistance to families as an incentive to send their daughters to school. School girls are given “take-home rations” capable of feeding a family of seven. Through creative programs like this, non-profits and foundations are able to promote the achievement of Millennium Development Goals, like MDG #1.
– Blythe Riggan