24 June 2010

Millennium Development Goals Report Card: Learning from progress

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the United Nations Millennium Campaign recently released the Millennium Development Goals Report Card: Learning from Progress – a summary report of the initial findings from an ongoing review of development progress, of which the full report is to be released later this year.

In contrast to other studies that have been critical about progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), these initial findings are rather striking as they clearly demonstrate that many of the world’s poorest countries have been making the most overall progress towards achieving the MDGs.

Salil Shetty, Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, said at the release of the report card that “this study decisively establishes with hard evidence that much of the negative reporting on progress on the Millennium Development Goals is misleading….Instead of lamenting that Africa might miss the MDG targets, we should be celebrating the real changes that have happened in the lives of millions of poor people, not least because of the unified effort between governments and citizens, supported by donors. The leaders and tax-payers of G-8 countries must now keep their aid commitments, with the confidence that their investment is making a tangible and large scale difference."

The MDG report card, which in particular focuses on progress towards MDG 1 (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger); MDG 4 (reducing child mortality); and MDG 5 (improving maternal health), does emphasize that progress has not been uniform across countries, and there have been setbacks and disappointments too. However overall, the rate of progress in reducing poverty and in increasing access to basic health, education, water, and other essential services has improved. It notes that the proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1990 to 1.4 billion in 2005 and that the share of children in primary school in low- and middle-income countries has risen from just over 70% to well over 80%. “Ninety-five per cent of countries are making progress in reducing child mortality, which overall fell from 101 to 69 per 1000 live births between 1990 and 2007. And, despite wide variation in progress on maternal mortality, access to maternal health services has increased in about 80% of countries,” the report further underlines.

According to the summary report, key criteria for progress are consistent political leadership; sound macro-economic policies; long-term institutional reform; prioritization of investment in human development; active community and civil society participation; new technologies and innovation; timely aid; adequate budgetary allocations; and support and partnerships with the international community.

The MDG Report Card is available online.

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