Encouraging trends before 2008 had put many regions on track to achieve at least some of the goals. The economic growth momentum in developing regions remains strong and, learning from the many successes of even the most challenged countries, achieving the MDGs is still within our grasp:
Progress on poverty reduction is still being made, despite signifi cant setbacks due to the 2008-2009 economic downturn, and food and energy crises. The developing world as a whole remains on track to achieve the poverty reduction target by 2015. The overall poverty rate is still expected to fall to 15 per cent by 2015, which translates to around 920 million people living under the international poverty line—half the number in 1990.
• Major advances have been made in getting children into school in many of the poorest countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
• Remarkable improvements in key interventions—for malaria and HIV control, and measles immunization, for example—have cut child deaths from 12.5 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008.
• Between 2003 and 2008, the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy increased tenfold—from 400,000 to 4 million—corresponding to 42 per cent of the 8.8 million people who needed treatment for HIV
• Major increases in funding and a stronger commitment to control malaria have accelerated delivery of malaria interventions. Across Africa, more communities are benefiting from bed net protection and more children are being treated with effective drugs.
• The rate of deforestation, though still alarmingly high, appears to have slowed, due to tree-planting schemes combined with the natural expansion of forests.
• Increased use of improved water sources in rural areas has narrowed the large gap with urban areas, where coverage has remained at 94 per cent—almost unchanged since 1990. However, the safety of water supplies remains a challenge and urgently needs to be addressed.
• Mobile telephony continues to expand in the developing world and is increasingly being used for m-banking, disaster management and other non-voice applications for development.
Other Reports on development goals
The MDG Report Card is part of a larger project that looks into progress in several countries and how it is being achieved. Findings from some initial case studies suggest that contributing factors include: • Consistent leadership committed over an extended period of time to reducing poverty, backed by strong implementation and human capacity. • Sound macro-economic policies, open trade, and recognition and active management of the complementary roles of market and state. • Long-term institutional reform aimed at making the public sector accountable to citizens, and devolution of responsibility and accountability to local levels. • Prioritisation of investment in human development, and protection of budgets in health and education. • Active community and civil society participation, encouraged by government. • Openness to new technologies, and support for innovation, adaptation, and scaling up. • Support from, and partnership with, the international community including government and non-government agencies. • These and other factors will be explored in depth in a report to be published later this year.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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