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Progress on the Millennium Development Goals

Progress on the goals has been mixed. Some goals are closer to being achieved than others, and some regions are closer to achieving the goals than others. Progress toward each goal is discussed next. One limitation to this data is that reporting is subject to the limits of the data provided by the countries themselves. An additional limitation is that examining a country’s or a region’s progress can mask inequalities within that country or region, for example, between urban and rural dwellers. All information that follows concerning progress toward the goals was gathered from the United Nations Development Goals Report (2013), except as noted.

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

The first target under this goal is to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty. This target originally was defined as living on less than USD$1 a day, but it was redefined to USD$1.25 a day. The excellent news is that this overall target was achieved in 2010, and extreme poverty is declining in every region. The proportion of those living under this poverty line declined from 47% to 22%, representing a decrease of 700 million people. However, the achievement was heavily influenced by the growth in China (where the rate dropped from 60% in 1990 to 12% in 2010) and without that, the goal would not have been reached. It is estimated that approximately 970 million people will still be living in extreme poverty as of 2015.

The second target under this goal, added in 2007, is to have full and productive employment for all, including women and young people. While there was solid progress on this target between 2000 and 2008, this was driven heavily by the aforementioned growth in China. Progress worldwide has slowed since 2008 and many remain in vulnerable employment, especially women. Young people were especially hard-hit by global economic crisis. The third target is to halve the number of people who suffer from hunger. As of 2013, this goal was considered to be “within reach,” as it had declined from 23.2% in 1990 to 14.9%. While the percentage has decreased, one in eight people, or 870 million, remain food insecure.

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