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Millennium Development Holes
UN can’t do it alone, MDG requires a cumulative and concerted effort

2001 was a landmark year in the global war against the scourge of poverty. Under the initiative of erstwhile UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the world identified the urgent need to address egregious social and economic conditions in impoverished nations and remove them substantially under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG); to be achieved by 2015.

If these goals are achieved, the world’s poverty will be reduced by 50% and billions of people will benefit from the fruits of development accomplished from it. However, with only 5 years to go, the progress is far behind schedule. It started off well, with financial aid from developed countries coming handsomely, but recession brought the aid down. The US donated only $598 million in 2009; EU offered $1.3 billion in 2010.

There were 1.4 billion people (25% of the world population) living below the poverty line in 2005 ($1.25 a day), a marked improvement from 1.9 billion people (50% of world population) in 1981. But much of this betterment was purely of Chinese citizens. Female literacy rose considerably from 60% to 74% for age 15 years and over, between 1990 and 2004. In the same period, male literacy grew to 86% from 77%. There was an improvement in sanitation too, with 1.2 billion more people gaining access to it in the period. However, 2.6 billion people were still deprived of it as of 2004! Recently, Obama said that poor countries should not depend on foreign aid. Indeed, China’s poor have reduced to 278 million from 452 million over the past decade, and not due to foreign aid! Sub-Saharan Africa remains at the same level as it was 10 years ago – poverty there has reduced by only 1% despite gigantic aid from US and EU.

Annan initiated MDG, but slowly and surely, not only is this term becoming submerged into the background of global issues, the fact also is that the UN itself doesn’t seem to be quite serious in forcing developed nations openly to contribute towards achieving the goals. Clearly, this should be an issue more important for the UN than environment.


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