How to accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals
WITH JUST 12 years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, see Box 1), a greater sense of urgency is needed by all sides if the targets are to be met. Many developing countries are making substantial progress toward the MDGs as a result of improved policies, better governance, and the productive use of development assistance. But they could do more with the right mix of policy reforms and additional help. Scaling up efforts to meet the MDGs by 2015 presents both opportunities and challenges. By acting now, developed countries can hasten progress by providing more and better aid and by allowing greater access to their markets. Developing countries, for their part, will need to continue to improve their policies and the way they are implemented. Without greater impetus, there is a serious risk that many countries will fall far short on many of the goals.
The Millennium Development Goals
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
- Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education
- Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
- Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.
4. Reduce child mortality
- Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-5 mortality rate.
5. Improve maternal health
- Reduce by three-fourths, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- Have halted by 2015, and begun to reverse, the spread of HIV/AIDS.
- Have halted by 2015, and begun to reverse, the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
- Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources.
- Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
- Have achieved, by 2020, a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.
8. Develop a global partnership for development
- Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and financial system.
- Address the special needs of the least developed countries.
- Address the special needs of landlocked countries and small island developing states.
- Deal comprehensively with debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term.
- In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth.
- In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable, essential drugs in developing countries.
- In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.
These findings emerge from a recent World Bank study that looked at how progress toward the MDGs at the country level could be accelerated through a combination of better domestic policies and improved governance, higher aid levels (in terms of official development assistance), more effective aid delivery, and improved market access to developed country markets. The study focused on 18 countries that account for approximately half of the world’s poor and a third of global aid flows and are broadly representative of low-income countries with good policies. The 18 are Albania, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam. The role for aid was also reviewed for two other groups of countries—low-income countries under stress and middle-income countries.
The country-based approach of this study complemented other work that used global and sectoral approaches to examine the cost of attaining all the MDGs in all developing countries and the implications for aid volumes (see, for instance, Devarajan, Swanson, and Miller, 2002). The study focused on countries with good policies because, as the literature on aid effectiveness has shown, the case for aid is strongest for these countries (Burnside and Dollar, 2000). The quality of policies refers to judgments about the adequacy of a country’s policy, governance, and institutional framework in promoting poverty reduction through sustained growth and improved service delivery to the poor.
Each of the 18 countries has made significant progress over the past decade, especially on the goals of reducing income poverty, promoting primary education, and increasing access to safe drinking water. But progress has varied, both across goals and across countries. The least progress has been made on the child and maternal mortality goals and on sanitation. And while Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam have made rapid progress toward some or all goals, Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Pakistan have seen less improvement.
Burnside, C., and D. Dollar, 2000, “Aid, Policies, and Growth,” American Economic Review Vol. 90 (September), pp. 847–68.
Devarajan, S., E. Swanson, and M. Miller, 2002, Goals for Development: History, Prospects, and Costs (Washington: World Bank).
Jalan, J., and M. Ravallion, 2001, “Does Piped Water Reduce Diarrhea for Children in Rural India?” Indian Statistical Institute and World Bank.
Reinikka, R., and J. Svensson, 1999, “How Infrastructure Provision of Public Infrastructure and Services Affects Private Investment” (unpublished; Washington: World Bank).