No region in the world is likely to meet its part of an international goal to cut by one third the number of children dying around the globe by the year 2015.
S P E A K O U T !
|What progress has been made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals? What can be done to accelerate the results? How can the results be sustained?|
Zia Qureshi, lead author of the World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report, discussed these issues in a recent online discussion on monitoring the Millennium Devepment Goals.
That’s one of the findings of a recent joint World Bank–International Monetary Fund report, titled the Global Monitoring Report, 2004.
The Global Monitoring Report gives a scorecard on the progress to date on the Millennium Development Goals—an international set of targets to be reached by the year 2015.
It was only four years ago, in 2000, that world leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit in New York, and recommitted themselves to a set of targets for health, education, women and the environment.
Now, past the halfway mark for goals originally set forth in the early 90's, the Global Monitoring Report finds the prospects for reaching many of those Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are bleak.
As World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn describes, the report sounds an alarm bell: most of the goals will not be met in most countries by the 2015 deadline.
“So the world is at a tipping point: either we in the international community recommit to delivering on the goals, or the targets we set in a fanfare of publicity will be missed, the world’s poor will be left even further behind, and our children will be left to face the consequences,” Wolfensohn says.
Only One Chance
In its disturbing assessment on progress to date, the Global Monitoring Report says if present trends are continued, only one of the MDGs will be met—the goal of reducing by half the number of people living below $1 a day.
|Millennium Development Goals|
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Foster a global partnership for development
But even there, the report says the results are likely to be mixed.
The dramatic fall in the number of people living below $1 a day will come on the back of two success stories—China and India —which have both experienced strong economic growth.
But the report says Africa will fall well short – the poor especially in Sub-Saharan Africa face little hope of emerging from lives of poverty and deprivation.
The report says the least progress has been made in child and maternal mortality and in providing access to safe water and sanitation.
In hardly any region of the world are those goals likely to be met by the target date of 2015. It says progress on cutting the number of children dying has been particularly weak. For example, in 1999, some 10 million children under the age of five died in low income countries—2.1 million in India alone.
China, despite its spectacular performance in reducing income poverty, is not on track to meet the child mortality goal.
The report also points out the links between the different MDGs. It says it’s hard to reduce child mortality when only 10 percent of the poor households have access to an improved water source, such as in Ethiopia.
One point five billion people around the globe need to be provided with access to safe drinking water, if an international target to halve the proportion of the world’s population without access to water is to be met by the year 2015.
Similarly, about 2 billion more people in the world need access to safe sanitation, if the MDGs call for halving the proportion of the world’s population without access to sanitation is to be met by 2015.
The report says progress on reducing maternal mortality has been insufficient, with only bleak prospects in the future.
It’s a similar story with the international targets to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
The report says the most prevalent and problematic communicable diseases—HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis—have proven difficult to contain and achieving a decline in the incidence of those diseases is even more challenging.
The prospects are brighter in education, than in health. With current trends, several regions will achieve or approach the goal of providing universal primary education.
But the report notes, shortfalls are likely in Sub-Saharan Africa, and possibly in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa as well.
Gender gaps are the most serious in the same three regions.
Swift Action Needed
Senior advisor of the Global Monitoring Secretariat at the World Bank and lead author of the report, Zia Qureshi, says there are basically two drivers for achievement of the MDGs.
“One is you need strong and sustainable economic growth, and second, you need to improve, expand, broaden the delivery of services to poor people,” he says.
Qureshi says the central message is that both developing and developed countries must scale up action, significantly and swiftly, if the MDGs are to be realized.
The agenda, he says, has three elements:
- Accelerating reforms to achieve stronger economic growth – progress in Africa will require a doubling of its current growth rate
- Empowering and investing in poor people, by broadening and improving the delivery of human services
- Speeding up implementation of the Monterrey partnership(need link here), matching stronger reform efforts by developing countries with increased support from developed countries and international agencies.
Priorities for Developing Countries
The report calls for developing countries to take action on four specific areas:
1. Improving the climate for the private sector
In macro-economic policy, the main area for improvement is fiscal management. Strengthening property rights and the rule of law are also key areas needing attention.
2. Strengthening the public sector and improving governance
This, the report says, is the biggest challenge for countries. The most serious shortcomings are in transparency, accountability, and control of corruption.
On average, low income countries can increase tax revenue by at least one to two percent of GDP by wiping out tax exemptions and improving tax administration.
3. More investment in infrastructure
The report says infrastructure spending will need to rise by 3.5 to 5 percent of GDP in low income countries and by 2.5 to 4 percent of GDP in low-middle-income countries
4. Enhancing the effectiveness of service delivery in human development
This is, quite simply, better targeting of education, health, and social aid services to poor people, as well as stepping up community participation and overcoming any obstacles to delivering those services.
Here the report suggests successful Bank-funded projects such as the Female Secondary School Assistance Program in Bangladesh should be scaled up. (link to related story)
Priorities for Developed Countries
The report says while developed countries have been big on commitment, their actions have fallen short.
Key issues that need to be addressed by developed countries include:
1. Sustaining stable and strong growth in the global economy
Here, the report says, a key issue is the orderly resolution of fiscal and external imbalances, especially the large United States external current account deficit.
2. Ensuring a successful, pro-development and timely outcome to the Doha Round.
The report says high income countries, given their weight, should lead by example.
It says stronger growth, resulting from a pro-development outcome of the Doha Round, could increase real income in developing countries by $350 billion by the year 2015 (roughly equal to the entire GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa)
That, it says, would lift an additional 140 million people out of poverty by that year.
3. Providing more and better aid
The report says estimates show that at least an extra $30 billion in aid annually could be effectively used by developing countries.
It recommends that once those developing countries improve their policies and governance, the amount of additional aid that could be used effectively would be about $50 billion plus a year – to help developing countries meet the MDGs.
It says while aid volumes have risen recently, there was concern that much of the increase may have been dominated by strategic considerations – the war on terrorism, conflict and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq.
4. Improving the policies for development
The report points out increased aid and other actions need to be part of a coherent overall approach to supporting development.
In many cases, it says, there are contradictions in policies, with support provided in one area undercut by actions in another.