Millennium development goals: Two down, six to go

The United Nations has met two of its eight development goals, well ahead of the 2015 deadline. Six goals are still on the road (

The achievements:

1)     Halve the number of people living in extreme poverty (or on less than $1.25 a day): For the first time since the World Bank started recording statistics in 1981, and despite the economic recession, poverty fell in every region of the world ( However, hunger is still an important issue that can compromise the long term benefice of this improvement as well as others. It is why focusing on sustainable agriculture development and food security is more and more an obligation.

2)     Halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water : which is part of the environmental sustainability goal: More than 2 billion people gained access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2010, meaning 89 percent of the world’s population now has access. Meeting the basic sanitation target will be much harder to achieve but together, this will have a major impact on preventable dieases.  diseases that are preventable.

Room for improvements and long term achievements:

1)     Achieve universal primary education: Although enrollment in primary education rose to 89 percent in the developing world in 2008, the pace of progress is “insufficient” to ensure that all girls and boys will complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015, according to the U.N. Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, is one of the countries on track to meet the goal. We can learn from them which integrated strategies work. Some local NGOs have shown that getting children in classrooms is just a start — they also need to be brought up to basic literacy levels (

2)     Promote gender equality and empower women: The U.N. reports that gender gaps in university-level education and in some developing regions remain high. The proportion of women employed outside agriculture is still as low as 20 percent in Southern Asia, Western Asia and northern Africa.  While the proportion of women in government is rising globally, it’s happening very slowly.

3)     Reduce child mortality: While child deaths are falling — the U.N. reports they fell by 28 percent between 1990 and 2008 — they are not falling fast enough. Almost 9 million children still die annually before they are 5. In sub-Saharan Africa in 2008, one in seven children died before their 5th birthday. Is this a bad result? Not sure about this. And as it was highlighted in an article published in the Lancet a few years ago, what is important is not necessary to reach the goal but to see an acceleration of the decrease/improvement over the past few years– this trend shows that we are moving in the right direction. Moreover, what we need to keep in mind is the fact that any improvement in child mortality is a more complex result than some other MDGs. In fact, a reduction in child mortality appears to be a good marker of poverty reduction. In contrast to access to water (simple as building a well), we need to observe improvements of a combination of different sectors like infrastructure, economic growth, education, access to primary health, pandemic disease eradication, nutrition security, food security…. before to observe the normalization of child mortality in developing countries. Several interesting articles related to this achievement have been published recently – discussing more details of ideas we have summarized here.  We will highlight some of them in upcoming next blogs.

4)     Improve maternal health: Although serious progress has been made in maternal health, mortality for mothers remains very high. The millennium development goal calls to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio. While some sub-Saharan African countries have halved those levels, and other regions have done even better, others are still missing the mark. The Guardian argued ( that the World Bank should cut health-care user fees and expand grants in spending on reproductive health if there is a desire to truly improve the health of mothers. Other aspects are important like sanitation and access to diversify and nutritious food!

5)     Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases: The number of new HIV infections fell from a peak in 1996 of 3.5 million to 2.7 million in 2008. Deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have also dropped, and the epidemic appears to have stabilized in most regions. However, HIV infections are still rising in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria must now reach the local non-governmental organizations in Africa to ensure that achieving these results continues.  (

6)      Develop a global partnership for development: In some way, the Millennium Development Goals actually are the global partnership for development. But the U.N. says that in order to declare that it accomplished this goal, levels of official development assistance need to continue to rise, especially in Africa. Good governance, efficiency and transparency regarding the use of official development assistance funds are still an important corner stone for effective global partnership for development.

This discussion is based on a blog published in the Washington Post – To read more go to:




12 responses to “Millennium development goals: Two down, six to go

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