Can the Millennium Development Goals be achieved by 2015?

The answer to this question, as revealed by a UNDP report released last week, is a resounding YES!  The report, titled ‘What Will it Take to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals? An International Assessment,’ affirms that the resources and technical know-how exist to achieve the MDGs by 2015.  To reach these goals, however, progress must be accelerated by continuing with proven strategies and abandoning approaches that do not work in reducing poverty.  The report bases its claims on evidence from 50 countries that have implemented policies and have seen noticeable reductions in poverty.

According to the UNDP report, one billion people across the world are undernourished.  Seventy-five million children still don’t have access to primary school education, almost 11 million children in developing countries die before the age of five, and hundreds of thousands of women die during pregnancy or child-birth.  However, inroads have been made.  In Tanzania, the percentage of children attending school nearly doubled between 1991 and 2006 and has almost reached 100 percent.  Egypt increased its measles vaccination coverage and has already reached the MDG target for reducing under-five mortality.  Generators in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Senegal have helped free up time for women to spend on education, health, or generating additional income.

Many of the development goals are closely tied to one another.  For example, child mortality is often higher in households where women are illiterate. Progress towards one goal often has beneficial effects for improvements towards other goals.  This finding underscores the value of coordination among implementing agencies and reiterates the importance of prioritising all eight MDGs.

The report is aimed at world leaders who will be convening in September of this year to discuss how progress can be accelerated to meet the MDGs set out to be met by 2015.  The MDGs were initially agreed upon by the leaders of 189 countries and aim to achieve eight goals, including halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and providing universal primary education by 2015.  The report offers an action agenda to improve progress over the next five years.  The eight points focus on supporting country-led development, fostering pro-poor economic growth, increasing government spending on education, health, water, sanitation and infrastructure, investing in opportunities for women and girls, increasing access to low-carbon energy, mobilising domestic resources, and delivering on Official Development Assistance commitments.

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