Millennium Development Goals
Improvements in the lives of the poor have been unacceptably slow, and some hard-won gains are being eroded by the climate, food and economic crises. However, over the past ten years, remarkable progress toward the MDGs has been made in many countries, including in some of the poorest. The success stories show that the Goals are achievable when the right national development strategies and policies are met with political commitment and adequate funding. Below are a few examples of what has worked.
- Subsidy programmes in Malawi and Ghana: Since 2005, Malawi’s voucher programme for fertilizers and seeds has helped boost its agricultural productivity, turning the country into a net food exporter after decades of famine as a perennial food importer. Malawi needs 2.2 million tons of maize a year to reach self-sufficiency. In 2005, the harvest fell to a low of 1.2 million tons of maize. The National Input Subsidy Programme resulted in a dramatic increase to 3.2 million tons of maize in 2007. Through a similar nationwide fertilizer subsidy programme, Ghana increased food production by 40 per cent, contributing to an average decline of 9 per cent in hunger between 2003 and 2005.
- Investing in agriculture research in Vietnam: Vietnam’s investment in agriculture research and development helped cut the prevalence of hunger by more than half, from 28 per cent in 1991 to 13 per cent in 2004-06. The prevalence of underweight children was also more than halved, from 45 per cent in 1994 to 20 per cent in 2006.
- Innovative finance schemes in Nigeria and Bangladesh: Nigeria’s National Special Programme for Food Security helped almost double agricultural yields and farmers’ incomes. Farmers were able to buy inputs using interest-free loans to be repaid following harvest. In Bangladesh, $107 million is to be distributed in the form of Agricultural Input Assistance Cards, targeting poor households.
- Employment programmes in Argentina: In Argentina, the Jefes y Jefas de Hogar programme employed two million workers within a few months after its initiation in 2002. This contributed to the country’s rapid poverty reduction from 9.9 per cent that year to 4.5 per cent in 2005.
- Abolishing school fees in Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Nepal and Tanzania: The abolition of school fees at primary school level has led to a surge in enrolment in a number of countries. In Tanzania, the enrolment ratio had doubled to 99.6 per cent by 2008, compared to 1999 rates. In Ethiopia, net enrolment was 79 per cent in 2008, an increase of 95 per cent since 2000. But the surge in enrolment in developing regions has brought a new set of challenges in providing enough teachers and classrooms.
- Investing in teaching infrastructure and resources in Ghana, Nepal and Tanzania: Ghana has recruited retirees and volunteers to meet teacher demand. Additional funds have also been allocated for the provision of temporary classrooms and teaching materials. In Nepal, investment has ensured that more than 90 per cent of students live within 30 minutes of their local school. And Tanzania has embarked on an ambitious programme of education reform, building 54,000 classrooms between 2002 and 2006, as well as hiring 18,000 additional teachers.
- Promoting education for girls in Botswana, Egypt and Malawi: Egypt’s Girls’ Education Initiative and Food-for-Education (FFE) programme encourage girls to attend school by providing free education and by constructing and promoting ‘girl-friendly schools’. By 2008, more than 1,000 schools were built and almost 28,000 students enrolled. In conjunction the FFE programme provides school meals to 84,000 children in poor and vulnerable communities. Botswana has reduced female drop-out rates by half by implementing readmission policies. Malawi has been promoting girls’ education in grades 1-4 by providing learning materials.
- Expanding access to remote and rural areas in Bolivia and Mongolia: Mongolia has introduced mobile schools (‘tent schools’) to reach children who would otherwise not have regular access to primary education. One hundred mobile schools have been providing educational services across 21 provinces. In Bolivia, a bilingual education programme has been introduced for three of the most widely used indigenous languages. It covered 11 per cent of primary schools in 2002, expanding access to education for indigenous children in remote areas.
Children inside Mwandama Millennium Village, Malawi.
- Providing secondary school stipends for girls in Bangladesh: The Female Secondary School Stipend programme in Bangladesh has provided money directly to girls and their families to cover tuition and other costs, on the condition that they enrol in secondary school and remain unmarried until the age of 18. By 2005, girls accounted for 56 per cent of secondary school enrolment in the areas covered by the programme, compared with 33 per cent in 1991.
- Furthering women’s empowerment in Mexico: Mexico has developed an innovative federal programme called Generosidad that awards a “Gender Equity Seal” to private firms. Seals are granted through an independent evaluation that assesses a company’s achievement of specific standards related to gender equity, including recruitment, career advancement, training and reducing sexual harassment. By 2006, 117 companies had obtained the Seal. Similar initiatives have been launched in Brazil, Costa Rica and Egypt.
- Setting a gender quota for Parliament in Kyrgyzstan: In 2005, there were no women in the Kyrgyz Parliament and only one woman in a cabinet position. In 2007, following a nationwide discussion facilitated by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), a 30 per cent gender quota was enshrined in the election code. By 2008, Kyrgyzstan had the highest proportion of women in Parliament (25.6 per cent) and in Government (21 per cent) in Central Asia.
- Expanding immunization programmes in Egypt, Viet Nam and Bangladesh: Egypt has already surpassed the MDG target for reducing child mortality in children under five. This achievement has been aided by a significant expansion in measles vaccination coverage, which stood at 92 per cent in 2008. Viet Nam’s Expanded Programme of Immunization has benefited more than 90 per cent of children and pregnant women. The mortality rate of under-fives in the country was more than halved, from 56 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 14 per 1,000 live births in 2008. And in 2006, Bangladesh conducted the world’s largest-ever measles campaign, vaccinating 33.5 million children between the ages of nine months and 10 years, over a 20-day period.
- Promoting breastfeeding in Cambodia: The Cambodian Ministry of Health’s Baby-Friendly Community Initiative, a network of community support groups that promote exclusive breastfeeding in rural areas, increased the rate of breastfed babies from 13 to 60 per cent between 2000 and 2005. Originally launched in 50 villages, the initiative has since expanded to 2,675 — or 20 per cent of all villages in the country. Breastfeeding strengthens children and reduces their vulnerability to disease.
- Providing mosquito nets in the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Mali, Nigeria and Zimbabwe: Through the “Nothing But Nets” campaign, initiated by a number of foundations and corporate, sports-related and religious partners, more than three million insecticide-treated anti-malaria nets have been distributed to children, pregnant women and refugees in Africa since the campaign’s inception in 2006. The effectiveness of such mosquito nets has been shown by a previous distribution programme in Kenya, where a ten-fold increase in the number of young children sleeping under nets between 2004 and 2006 resulted in 44 per cent fewer deaths from malaria than among children not protected by them.
- Widening access to maternal health services in Egypt: The Ministry of Health and Population significantly increased access to obstetric and neonatal care, in particular to vulnerable populations in Upper Egypt. About 32 maternity homes were constructed in rural areas. The number of births attended by trained healthcare workers in rural areas has since doubled to 50 per cent.
- Fighting fistula in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Arab States: In 2003, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), together with government and private partners, launched the Campaign to End Fistula, a childbirth injury that leaves women incontinent, isolated and ashamed. The campaign is now active in 49 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Arab States. More than 28 countries have integrated the issue into relevant national policies and more than 16,000 women have received fistula treatment and care.
- Investing in mobile maternal health units in Pakistan: UNFPA-supported mobile clinics were set up in Pakistan in 2005 and had received nearly 850,000 patients by 2008. Women can use them for antenatal consultations, deliveries, post-miscarriage complications and referrals for Caesarean section. The mobile units managed to provide skilled birth attendance to 43 per cent of pregnant women in remote areas, 12 per cent higher than the national average.
- Providing free access to antiretroviral treatment in Botswana: Free universal access to antiretroviral treatment, combined with dietary information and supplements, helped increase life expectancy in Botswana by four years. In 2007, 79 per cent of those with advanced HIV infection received antiretroviral treatment, and the number of new cases of HIV infection in children declined five-fold between 1999 and 2007.
- Slowing new HIV infections among young people: In 15 of the most severely affected countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, HIV prevalence among young people has fallen by more than 25 per cent, as young people are choosing to have sex later, have fewer partners and use condoms.
- Distributing insecticide-treated bed nets against malaria: Nearly 200 million nets were delivered to African countries by manufacturers during 2007-2009 — enough for endemic African countries to cover more than half of their populations at risk of malaria.
- Controlling the incidence of tuberculosis in India: Annually, the disease kills an estimated 330,000 people in India. Since 1997, the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme has provided treatment to more than 11 million patients and saved more than two million lives. Tuberculosis mortality rates in the country dropped by 43 per cent between 1990 and 2008, and prevalence diminished by 44 per cent.
- Protecting families from malaria, measles and polio in Togo: In 2004, Togo launched an integrated public health campaign. Immunization against measles and polio was combined with the distribution of free insecticide-treated bed nets, vitamin A supplements and parasite medication. By 2008, 71 per cent of targeted households had a bed net and close to one million children had benefited from treatment for parasites.
Children play with garbage in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey slums, where some 2000 people live on the garbage dump and make their living selling recyclable refuse in Cambodia.
- Reducing ozone-depleting substances: The 1987 Montreal Protocol resulted in the phasing out of 98 per cent of ozone-depleting substances by 2008. Many ozone-depleting substances under the Protocol are also potent greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. In 2007, almost all governments also committed to phasing out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), currently the most widely used ozone-depleting substance.
- Installing water systems in Brazil, Burkina Faso and Sri Lanka: Since 2002, Brazil has been implementing the One Million Rural Cisterns Programme to bring clean water to about 36 million people in semi-arid North-Eastern Brazil. In Burkina Faso, a water tower and pipe system were installed for 1,300 villagers in 2006, resulting in 20 litres of affordable clean water a day being available to each household. And in Sri Lanka, the introduction of rainwater harvesting tanks has enabled households to save on average $31 per month.
- Expanding good sanitation practices in Kyrgyzstan: In Kyrgyzstan, a community-based project focused on promoting good sanitation and hygiene practices in the rural north, where almost a third of children were infected with one or more intestinal parasites. Improved water supply to schools and hygienic education contributed to a decline in the incidence of lambliasis by 76 per cent in the villages covered by the project.
- Increasing the share of world trade for developing countries: The share of world trade belonging to economies that are developing and in transition has increased to over 40 per cent, from 35 per cent in 2000, despite the inability to successfully resolve the Doha development round of trade talks. Developing and transition economies now attract a full half of global foreign direct investment (FDI) and are the source of one quarter of global outflows. FDI outflows from these countries are more than fifty times greater in volume than they were in 1990.
- Strengthening South-South cooperation: The Report of the UN Secretary-General on the state of South-South cooperation (2009) estimates that 40 per cent of foreign direct investment from countries of the South goes to highly vulnerable least developed countries, many of which are just emerging from conflict. Foreign direct investment emanating from South Africa, for instance, accounts for more than half of the incoming flows to Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho and Malawi — providing a force for greater stability, less poverty and more regional coherence in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Transforming debt into public funds: Several countries have implemented Debt for Development Swaps and Virtual Poverty Funds to transform debt into public funds used to fight poverty. In Egypt, under its Debt for Development Swap agreement with Italy, 53 development projects with a budget of $149 million were implemented between 2001 and 2006. In Chad, Ghana, Honduras, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia, Virtual Poverty Funds had a positive impact on development indicators and public spending.
A view of the Korea-Hydro windmill complex in Ansan, Republic of Korea.