Steady progress on many Millennium Development Goals continues in sub-Saharan Africa

We Can End Poverty: MDGs and Beyond 2015
We Can End Poverty: MDGs and Beyond 2015

Lagos/Nairobi, 7 July 2014 – Sub-Saharan Africa progressed on most Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but persistent obstacles and new challenges mean the region will not meet most Goals by their 2015 target date, a new UN report says.

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014, launched today by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, finds that steady progress was made in sub-Saharan Africa, but population growth, conflict and declines in aid make reaching many MDG targets by 2015 unlikely. Despite a new high in official development assistance in 2013, the report says aid shifted away from the poorest countries where achieving the MDGs lags the most. Net bilateral aid to Africa, where 34 of the 48 least developed countries are located, fell by 5.6 per cent in 2013.

Big education gains, but more challenges ahead

Between 2000 and 2012, the adjusted primary net enrolment rate increased from 60 per cent to 78 per cent. However, compared to 2000, there were 35 per cent more school children to put in school in 2012. In addition, armed conflict and other emergencies have kept children out of school—33 million children of primary school age in sub-Saharan Africa were not in school in 2012 and 56 per cent were girls.

Girls continue to face high barriers to schooling in sub-Saharan Africa, where the net primary enrolment rate for girls rose from 48 per cent to 75 per cent between 1991 and 2012. While the region is home to over half of the world’s out-of-school primary school age population, aid for basic education declined by seven per cent between 2010 and 2011.

Strong results against malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS

Between 2000 and 2012, the lives of an estimated three million children under age five were saved from malaria due to coordinated interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria accounted for 40 per cent of malaria deaths worldwide. The report says sub-Saharan Africa is on its way to halting the spread of and reversing the incidence of tuberculosis. The estimated number of new tuberculosis cases fell from 321 per 100,000 people in 2002 to 255 in 2012.

The incidence of new HIV cases in the region fell by more than half between 2001 and 2012. Sub-Saharan Africa has the second highest rate of access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, with 63 per cent people living with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2012. However, sub-Saharan Africa remains the most severely affected by HIV. Seventy per cent—1.6 million cases—of the estimated number of new infections in 2012 occurred in the region.

Women’s equality slowly gaining

Women in the region are gaining more influence in politics. The proportion of seats held by women in single or lower houses of national parliament increased from 13 per cent in 2000 to 23 per cent in 2014, the second highest among all developing regions. Women’s access to paid jobs in non-agricultural sectors rose from 23 per cent in 1990 to 33 per cent in 2012.

Maternal and child mortality see big reductions, but more needed to meet targets The maternal mortality ratio declined by 48 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa since 1990. However, in 2012 only 53 per cent of deliveries were attended by skilled health personnel. In 2012, one child in ten died before their fifth birthday. Since 1990 child mortality rates fell by 45 per cent. However, without greater improvements, the region is likely to miss the MDG targets on maternal and child mortality by 2015.

Greater access to water and sanitation stymied by slums

In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of people with access to an improved drinking water source increased by 16 per cent between 1990 and 2012, despite major population growth. Water remains inaccessible to many households, however, and many people, usually women or young girls, must join long queues or walk long distances to reach an improved water source.

Between 1990 and 2012, the proportion of people using an improved sanitation facility increased from 24 percent to 30 per cent. The high proportion of slum dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa dropped only slightly—from 65 per cent in 2000 to 62 per cent in 2012.

Extreme poverty and child hunger rising

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only developing region that saw the number of people living in extreme poverty rise steadily, from 290 million in 1990 to 414 million in 2010. The World Bank projects that by 2015, 40 per cent of the estimated 970 million people living on less than $1.25 a day will be from sub-Saharan Africa.

The proportion of hungry fell from 33 per cent in 1990-1992 to 25 per cent in 2011-2013. However, the number of undernourished children increased from an estimated 27 million in 1990 to 32 million in 2012. Sub-Saharan Africa is also the only region where the number of children affected by stunting rose from 44 million in 1990 to 58 million in 2012.

The Millennium Development Goals Report, an annual assessment of global and regional progress towards the Goals, reflects the most comprehensive, up-to-date data compiled by over 28 UN and international agencies and is produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. A complete set of the data used to prepare the report is available at For more information, see

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