The Millennium Development Goals consist in eight major points that have been appointed by all of the 193 member states of the United Nations. They have been agreed with the objective of improving social and economic conditions fore the world’s population. These terms were officially submitted following the Millennium Summit in 2000 and have been planned to be completed by 2015.
The first of the eight points regards Poverty and Hunger. I will concentrate on the Poverty section, divided in two elements. Firstly, the UN decided to engage in halving the amount of people living on, or with less, than 1$ per day. In 1990 data was recorded in the developing countries, sustaining that 46% of the population lived with 1$ or less each day. The same survey, in 2005, showed that this number decreased to 27%. Because the goal for the MDGs was to reach 23% the developing countries appear to be on track with the requirements, resulting in a possible substantial overshoot. Another indicator shows the global population living under international poverty line, 1.25$ a day, with an average of 1.8 billion in 1990 and down to 1.4 billion in 2005.
The World Bank has therefore stated that, if the pattern is to continue, by 2015 this number should drop to approximately 920 million people. This would represent a near success in the objectives, exceeding by 40 million people (2.222% more than required). This number may therefore not be an extremely significant amount in percentages but, differently, is a major quantity of humans suffering poor economical conditions. Because this indicator considers the poverty limit at 1.25$, instead of 1$ as the MDG goal describes, the excessive 40 million people could be most probably due to the additional 0.25$. This major improvement was forecasted despite the economical breakdown of 2008/09. During this period many countries suffered a severe economical crisis.
The employment-to-population ratio (% of the working aged population employed, usually ranging from 15 to 64 years) shows how throughout these two years the job availability decreased or stabilised. This indicator could even be reconnected to the second point stated in the Poverty section: the achievement of a full and productive employment, consisting in decent work, for all. In Latin America the indicator displays a substantial development from 58% in 1998 to 61% in 2008 but followed by a decrease in 2009 to 60%. Similarly in Western Asia the pattern went from an initial score of 47% down to 46% in 2008 and in the period of one single year, in 2009, to 44%. It is therefore clear that these two years have only slowed, if not briefly reversed, the process of economical development.
As a whole the global economy seems to be developing rapidly and on course. It is though a concern that this evolution isn’t equally spread through the various regions. The majority of the economical growth would therefore have occurred in East Asia: here, over a twenty-five years period, the poverty rate fell from nearly 60% to less than 20%. Dissimilarly, in Sub-Saharan Africa from 1990 to 2005, the poverty rate declined, only slightly, from an initial value of 58% to 51%.
The goals, though, are aimed to increase the economy of each singular region, not on a worldwide scale. The policies that resulted in the best overcome for the regions of the Sub-Saharan Africa can be noticed to be all agricultural-based. An example is the Voucher program established in Malawi. The policy, boosting the utilization of fertilizers and seeds, increased the countries harvests outcome from 1.2 million tons of maize to 3.7 million tons. Meeting the states self-sufficiency barrier at 2.2 million tons and leaving more for exportation. A similar approach has been shown to work even in Ghana, another Sub-Saharan nation, suggesting that agricultural-based plans would be the best approach to meet the MDGs economic deadline in this area.
Another section of the MDG goals that I will discuss relates to the reduction of Child Mortality. The UN set the goal of decreasing, by two-thirds, the child mortality of each adherent country. Significant progress has been made in the developing countries: here the deaths of children under the age of five dropped from 100 in 1000, in 1990, to 72 in 1000, in 2008. Whilst this may seem a notable success the objective would have been to reach 33 deaths by 2015, meaning they are not on track. It is therefore predictable, for the developing countries, that this goal won’t be encountered. This same problem can be found even on a global scale. The total number of deaths in children was calculated, in 1990, to be 12.5 million. In 2008 this number had declined to 8.8 million. This is certainly a remarkable number, since 10,000 children less are dying each day in 2008, but when keeping in mind the goal, set at two-thirds of the initial amount, the UN has still a long way to go, globally.
It is of a concern, though, that the countries maintaining high children mortality are mostly found along the Sub-Saharan Africa. Only Afghanistan, of the 34 countries with a child mortality exceeding the 100 deaths every 1000 children, isn’t found in the Sub-Saharan Africa. This regional drawback is dew mainly by the poor sanitary conditions: Pneumonia, Diarrhea, AIDS and Malaria are in fact considered responsible for 47% of the natal deaths. In order to give a major cut to the child deaths in these countries the governments must therefore concentrate in preventing these diseases. In Vietnam, for example, the child mortality was recorded in 1990 to be of 56 deaths for every 1000 children. Thanks to an Expanded Program of Immunization this number was reduced to 14 deaths on every 1000, assisting about 90% of the nations children and pregnant women.
The third division regarded the major infective diseases spread through the globe. I will focus on HIV/AIDS. The UN planned to halt and reverse the spread of HIV throughout the globe. This first goal, in fact, regards majorly the preventive part of fighting AIDS. In 1996 a peak of 3.5 people being newly infected by AIDS was recorded. From then on this number decreased gradually, every year. It was then re-calculated in 2008 to be of 2.7 million. This is certainly a leading factor demonstrating that the rate of dispersion of AIDS not only ceased to increase, but it is even starting to regress. The second goal regarding AIDS aimed at providing access to treatment to anyone who needed it. In 1996 20,6 million people were globally affected and were therefore living with aids. In 2008 this number increased to 33,4 million.
Whilst this may seem a negative indication the increase in people living with AIDS, combined with the reduced infection rate, demonstrates how the modern treatments manage to prolong the life of AIDS infected people. Two thirds of this number, though, is characterised by habitants of the Sub-Saharan Africa. The quantity of infected people found in this area is therefore drastically high, decreasing only recently thanks to the effective educational programs introduced in these countries. Thanks to various instructive courses, aimed at young adults, on AIDS in 15 of the most heavily affected areas the pervasiveness of HIV was reduced by 25% through young people.
The last subject that I will concentrate upon is the Education. The UN fixed one direct aim for this section: Providing a full primary course education to boys and girls worldwide. The worldwide enrolment rate has been measured to increase from 84% in 1999 to 90% in 2008. The rate at which this number has grown is certainly not high enough in order to reach 100% by 2015.
This goal though seems to be extremely exaggerated; a rate of 100% students worldwide would be practically impossible to reach but even getting close to it, at about 96/8% would be an enormous success. It is therefore possible for the world as a whole to reach more or less 95% for 2015, achieving major successes. In order to get this far the UN must therefore concentrate on increasing these numbers especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where respectively 31 million and 18 million students aren’t following a primary education, out of the 69 million worldwide. The first and most effective policy that should be established would then be the abolishment of school fees, which resulted in a doubling enrolment ration in Tanzania and other countries.
As a conclusion I must summarize that only two of the four sections that I evaluated will be met by 2015: Poverty and HIV/AIDS. The other two won’t be met by probably a slight percentage, meaning that if the goals were to be extended by another 10-15 years they would certainly be on track.
* http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ – 17. 3. 2012
* www.undp.org.bd/info/pub/Bangladesh%20MDGs%20Progress%20Report%202009.pdf – 17. 3. 2012
* http://www.mdgmonitor.org/index.cfm – 17. 3. 2012