Under the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG1), the international community aims to halve the global rate of extreme income poverty—as measured by the share of the population living on less than $1 per day—between 1990 and 2015. Current trends and growth forecasts indicate that this goal will be achieved, although not in Sub-Saharan Africa. High growth in China and India explains much of the reduction in the global poverty rate, although progress toward MDG1 has also quickened in many other developing countries. High growth has continued in most of the developing world in the past year as a result of better policies in developing countries and a favorable global environment. The outlook for growth and poverty reduction remains favorable, although some risks remain. In particular, low-income country per capita growth is expected to remain above 5 percent in 2007.1
With less than five years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the international development community is showing renewed urgency to assess the various development efforts, especially in light of the recent global economic crisis and the still-fragile recovery. What are the prospects and challenges for reaching the goals? Answers are clearly linked to the complex tapestry of progress that lies below the global numbers.
In chapter 1, economic growth is seen as critical to attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Prospects for further progress on the MDGs should be seen in light of macroeconomic developments in emerging and developing economies, and in the global economic environment they face.
Since 2000, over 34 million additional children in the developing world have gained the chance to attend, and complete, primary school—one of the most massive expansions of schooling access in history. Over 550 million children have been vaccinated against measles—doubling the coverage rates in some countries, and driving down measles deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa by 75 percent. The number of developing-country AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) patients with access to antiretroviral treatment increased from 240,000 in 2001 to over 1.6 million at mid-2006. Despite migration and resource constraints, health workers and clinic visits across the developing world are increasing significantly, as are the share of pregnant women with access to health care when they deliver, and the share of young children with regular health and nutrition screening. There is now little question that the “stretch” goals adopted by the global community in 2000 to promote human development have helped stimulate and support more rapid expansion of basic health and education services across the developing world.
Education and health are key dimensions of many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As 2015 approaches, calls for greater development effectiveness are taking on increased urgency for two reasons: development assistance for health and education has risen to unprecedented amounts, but has not led to expected improvements in outcomes; and the global crisis has forced a reexamination of social spending.
The 2006 World Development Report acknowledges the importance of ensuring equal opportunities across population groups as an intrinsic aspect of development and as an instrument for achieving poverty reduction and growth (World Bank 2005). Noting that men and women have starkly different access to assets and opportunities in many countries around the world, the report refers to gender inequality as the archetypal “inequality trap,” reproducing further inequalities with negative consequences for women’s well-being, their families, and their communities. MDG3 reflects the strong belief by the development community that redressing gender disparities and empowering women is an important development objective on grounds of both fairness and efficiency.1
Developed countries can help developing countries’ progress toward the MDGs by delivering on commitments of more (and more effective) assistance and by improving market access for these countries. The chapter assesses donors’ performance by monitoring recent trends in the overall volume, allocation, and delivery of aid; implementation of debt relief; and progress on global trade reform.
As we approach 2015 and come closer to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, the remaining challenges take on increased urgency. One of these is reaching out to the last and most difficult groups to reach—vulnerable populations with tenuous connections to the modern state and its economy.