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Eradicate Poverty and Hunger: MDG 1


  • The number of people living under the international poverty line of $1.25 a day declined from 1.8 to 1.4 billion between 1990 and 2005.
  • The proportion of people living in extreme poverty in developing regions dropped from 46 per cent to 27 per cent — largely the result of extraordinary success in Asia.

Over a 25-year period, the poverty rate in East Asia fell from nearly 60 per cent to under 20 per cent. Poverty rates are expected to fall to around 5 per cent in China and 24 per cent in India by 2015. In contrast, little progress has been made in reducing extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, where the poverty rate has declined only slightly, from 58 to 51 per cent between 1990 and 2005. Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia and parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia are the few regions not expected to achieve the MDG poverty reduction target.


In 2007, the Council held its first-ever Annual Ministerial Review on the theme of global poverty and hunger. A Ministerial Declaration which provides policy guidance and recommendations for action was adopted by ECOSOC. Ministers from six developing countries ―  Bangladesh, Barbados, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Ethiopia and Ghana  ― delivered “National Voluntary Presentations”, which detailed their countries’ recent efforts to cut poverty, while offering case studies on successful initiatives. In 2012, ECOSOC will return to the issue of poverty with an AMR devoted to jobs and growth.

UN System

  • The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting India’s “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme”, which provides a minimum of 100 days of paid work per year for landless laborers and marginalized farmers, benefiting some 46 million households.
  • UNDP provided technical expertise to establish the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, bringing together farmers, farming co-operatives, domestic traders, agro-industrial processors, commodity exporters and institutional buyers to meet and trade through a secure, low-cost platform. An estimated 850,000 small-holder farmers (mostly producers of coffee, sesame and other cash crops) are now involved in the Exchange system, which facilitates an average of 14,527 trades per day, equal to about US$5 million to 10 million.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) provides food assistance, including cash and voucher transfers to the hungry. WFP’s precise mapping tools and assessments of exactly where the hungry live help ensure that food assistance is targeted where it is most needed, especially when disaster strikes.
  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provides technical advice and support in many countries, such as in Nepal, and Liberia, on integrating human rights into MDG-based development planning.
  • In Mali, UNDP is working with a women’s mango cooperative which aims to give women farmers the right skills to grow and treat their produce for export. Thanks to the project, Mali’s mango exports have risen sharply, from 2,915 tons in 2005 to 12,676 tons in 2008. The average price paid to the mango producer increased by approximately US$70 per ton.
  • In 2009, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) carried out the first regional comparative study of child poverty to promote inclusive, efficient public policy for children and adolescents.

Further reading…