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Two-Thirds Of Nations On Track To Meet Poverty, Hunger MDGs by 2015, WB-IMF Report Says

Two-thirds of developing countries are on track or close to reaching the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets to reduce extreme poverty and hunger, according to a World Bank-IMF report released Friday to coincide with a meeting of the groups in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, Agence France-Presse/Edmonton Journal reports (4/16).

“Based on current economic projections, the world remains on track to reduce by half the number of people living in extreme poverty,” the Global Monitoring Report 2011:  Improving the Odds of Achieving the MDGs (.pdf) found, according to a World Bank press release (4/15). According to these projections, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day will fall to an estimated 883 million in 2015 compared with 1.4 billion in 2005 and 1.8 billion in 1990, Xinhua reports (4/15).

Bloomberg contrasts the recent economic progress in China and India with the situation in several African countries. “In China, 4.8 percent of people are projected to live on less than $1.25 a day in 2015 [about 64 million people], compared with 36 percent, or 345 million, in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said,” according to the news service (Seria, 4/15).

The report also noted recent progress on MDG targets for gender parity in primary and secondary education, access to safe drinking water and access to primary education, BusinessDay reports (4/18). Despite such gains, however, the report found progress has been slow on meeting targets for child and maternal mortality as well as access to sanitation, the Standard Mobile reports (Mosota, 4/18).

“Among developing countries, 45 percent are far from meeting the target on access to sanitation; 39 percent and 38 percent are far from the maternal and child mortality targets, respectively,” according to a World Bank press release (4/15). The report also describes how “development assistance for health and education has risen to unprecedented levels in volume, but has not generated the expected improvements in outcomes,” according to the World Bank release.

“Certain health and education outcomes are disappointing, in part because spending has focused largely on increasing the quantity of services, while not paying enough attention to quality,” Delfin Go, an economist at the World Bank and lead author of the report said, according to the release. “A key lesson is that strengthening institutions and improving incentives, for example, by enhancing the role of performance in setting the pay of health workers, are vital to better outcomes,” he said.

“Regaining momentum toward achieving the MDGs will require international cooperation on three fronts,” the World Bank release continues. “First, low-income countries in particular will need a strong and stable global economic environment in which to continue growing. Second, actions are needed to help low-income countries achieve and sustain more rapid economic growth and restore their policy buffers. Third, fragile states lag the furthest behind in reaching the MDGs and require additional support, to help in building institutions and moving toward a virtuous circle of development, peace, and security” (4/15).