UN finds little progress on poverty

August 1, 2001


Many of the world's poorest countries are struggling to make even modest progress on reducing poverty, and there is now little chance that they will meet the United Nations Millennium Summit targets for poverty eradication and development, according to the latest sobering report from the United Nations Development Program.

The UN summit committed the world's governments, particular the richest, to help halve the incidence of poverty by 2015.

But, according to the UNDP's Human Development Report 2001, the world's premier compilation of development statistics, released on July 10, many countries are in a deep hole and are unlikely to get out without major changes to global policy.

Ninety-three countries, with 62% of the world's population, are not on track to reduce under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Eleven million children below age five still die every year from preventable causes — about 30,000 a day.

Similarly, 83 countries, with 70% of the world's population, are not on track to halve the share of their citizens without access to safe drinking water. Nearly one billion people still need such access, while 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation.

Seventy-four countries, with more than one-third of the world's population, are not on track to halve income poverty by 2015.

Worldwide, there are still 1.2 billion people who live on less than US$1 a day, the standard definition of "severe poverty", while 2.8 billion live on less than US$2 a day.

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