An end to poverty

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					 United Nations millennium development goals

An end to poverty
Is a world without poverty an impossible goal? The United Nations
– and many Rotarians – are pushing to make it a reality.
by M. Kathleen Pratt

                                                   The first goal seems straight-forward       “We’re not on track,” said Guido
  This is the first in a series of occasional   enough. It aims to halve the proportion     Schmidt-Traub. “Processes under
  articles on the United Nations                of two groups of people by 2015 – the       way right now are not in line with the
  Millennium Development Goals.                 more than one billion people in the         needs to achieve these goals, and only
                                                developing world who live on less than      if a sustained effort is made over the
                                                $US1 a day and the more than 800            coming years will those be met.” ■
  Imagine, if you can, what it would            million who are suffering hunger.
be like to live on less than $US1 a day.           But as any Rotarian who has worked
Then look around your Rotary club.
  If it were a microcosm of today’s
                                                to build schools, dig wells, or immunise
                                                children knows, poverty and hunger
                                                                                            The good news
world, one in five of your fellow               are tied to a host of development issues.      Still, there is some cause for optimism.
Rotarians would be living in extreme            It’s impossible to confront one without     In the developing world, the poverty
poverty. One in seven would be                  addressing all.                             rate dropped from about 28 per cent
suffering from chronic hunger.                     “To end poverty, you need to hit all     in 1990 to about 19 per cent in 2002,
  Pover ty and hunger, w het her                the other targets as well,” said Guido      according to the 2006 Millennium
reduced to their simplest definitions or        Schmidt-Traub, associate director of the    Goals Report.
understood via the latest tragedy in the        Millennium Project. “People cannot exit        Hunger rates fell from about 20 per
news, are overwhelming in scope.                poverty unless they’re in good health,      cent to 17 per cent. Yet progress varies
  But in a plan as ambitious as the             unless they’re well educated, unless        greatly from one part of the world to
problems are intimidating, the United           they have access to basic infrastructure    the next.
Nations is aiming to cut extreme                and live in an environment that is not         “If you’re looking at the world
poverty and hunger in half by 2015.             degrading at a dramatic pace. And so        globally, you could say that we’re sort
  In 2000, the United Nations set out           you really need to think quite broadly      of broadly on track to meeting the
a framework to address fundamental              to achieve that goal.”                      first goal’s target,” explained Guido
global problems through a series of eight          You also need to be committed for        Schmidt-Traub.
goals in the Millennium Development             the long haul.                                 He noted, however, that the success is
Goals.                                                                                      largely attributable to China and India.
  Along with taking on poverty and                                                             “Take India and China out of the
hunger, the United Nations is fighting            The goals of the United Nations           equation, then the picture is very
                                                  Millennium Development?
for universal primary education and                                                         different,” he said.
                                                  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and
combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and                      hunger.
                                                                                               Though rapid economic growth
other diseases.                                   2. Achieve universal primary education.   in eastern Asia helped reduce the
  In a sp eech at the 2006 R .I.                  3. Promote gender equality and            proportion of people living there on
Convention, economist Jeffrey D.                     empower women.                         less than $1 a day from 33 per cent
Sachs, director of the Earth Institute            4. Reduce child mortality.                in 1990 to about 14 per cent in 2002,
and author of a book titled The End of            5. Improve maternal health.               stagnant economies, often complicated
Poverty, called on Rotarians to support           6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and           by food shortages and rapid population
                                                     other diseases.
the goals.                                                                                  growth, have hindered progress
                                                  7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
  “We are the first generation in the             8. Develop a global partnership for       elsewhere.
history of the world who can realistically           development.                              In northern Africa and western
say that we can end extreme poverty in            Each goal is tied to measurable targets   Asia, poverty and hunger rates remain
our time,” he said.                               with an end date of 2015. The United      virtually unchanged.
  Jeffrey Sachs served as director of the         Nations uses 48 different indicators,        And in sub-Saharan Africa, the
United Nations Millennium Project,                from literacy rates to condom use, to     number of people living in extreme
which put together a plan for achieving           measure success. Learn more at www.       poverty has risen by more than 100
the goals.                                                                                  million in the past 14 years. ■

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