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UN: Global poverty rate is decreasing but progress is yet to be felt by the most vulnerable in society

MDGsThe UN launched its annual report on the state of progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) this week. The report argues that whilst global poverty rates are falling, progress has been uneven and achievement of some of the MDGs is still lagging behind — particularly in the poorest nations.

The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2011 argues there has been huge success in many of the 8 goals. The report states, the overall poverty rate is expected to fall below 15% by 2015 — well below the 23% target set in the MDGs. This would meet the target of the first MDG 1 of halving the proportion of people living on less than $1 day. According to the report, the living on less than $1.25 a day is expected to fall below 900 million, according to the UN's annual report card of regional progress towards the eight MDGs.

The majority of progress can be attributed to poverty reduction in China and India, where the number of people living in extreme poverty in both countries fell by roughly 455 million between 1990 and 2005. The UN MDG report said projections for sub-Saharan Africa are slightly better than previously estimated, and the extreme poverty rate in the region is expected to fall below 36 percent.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon argued that despite global successes, the most vulnerable of society are yet to be lifted out of poverty - “Progress tends to bypass those who are lowest on the economic ladder or are otherwise disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability or ethnicity”.

In addition, there are certain targets that remain difficult to achieve, particularly in light of food and financial crises. The persistence of hunger in particular has forced policymakers to address problems such as access to food and high food prices, the most recent example of which was the G20 summit last month. Success in eradicating hunger has been disparate, with the report noting “trends observed in South-Eastern Asia, Eastern Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean suggest that they are likely to meet the hunger-reduction target by 2015. However, wide disparities are found among countries in these regions.”

Aid, which is an indicator of MDG 8 (global partnership for development) reached a record high of $128.7bn in 2010 which represents 0.32 percent of developed countries’ combined national income — falling short of the UN target of 0.7% of GNI. According to a report by CONCORD, the European confederation of NGOs, many European donors failed to meet their targets for 2010. The report, called AidWatch, said that in 2010, the EU spent €54.82bn on aid, falling short of its commitment by nearly €15bn.

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