Sidebar: The Millennium Development Goals: Getting There?

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty. Halve the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.50 a day. So far, the deepest reductions of poverty have been in eastern Asia, especially China and India. All developing regions except sub-Saharan Africa, Western Asia, and parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia are expected to attain target.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education. Ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Enrollment is up to 89 percent in the developing world, but pace of progress will not be enough to meet goal by 2015.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women. Poverty remains a barrier to education, especially among older girls. Women are overrepresented in informal employment, with its lack of benefits and security. Top-level jobs go overwhelmingly to men.

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality. Reduce by two-thirds
the under-five mortality rate.
Since 1990, mortality rates have dropped by 28 percent. Against the odds, remarkable progress has been made in many of the poorest countries. But pace of success is unlikely to meet the 2015 goal. Progress in controlling measles may be short-lived if funding gaps are not bridged.

Goal 5: Improve maternal health. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio. Rates of reduction are well short of the 5.5 percent annual decline needed to meet target. The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed. But giving birth is especially risky in southern Asia and sub-Sahara Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Spread of HIV appears to have stabilized, though some 17.5 million children lost one or both parents to AIDS in 2008, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Half the world is at risk of malaria. But expanded use of insecticide-treated bed nets is protecting communities like never before. Global production of mosquito nets has increased five-fold since 2004. Tuberculosis remains the second-leading killer after HiV.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability. Targets include reversing biodiversity losses and species endangerment, halving the proportion of those without access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers. Results so far are mixed. Rates of deforestation show signs of decreasing, but remain alarmingly high. The world is on track to meet the drinking water target, though much work remains. Sanitation improvements are bypassing the poor. 

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development. Aid is rising despite the recession, but Africa is short-changed. Debt burdens are easing for developing countries. Access to the internet is still closed to most of the world’s people.

Source: MDG Report 2010 (United Nations, 2010). See