At the start of the century, all 189 United Nations Member States unanimously agreed to forge a commitment via the Millennium Declaration to assist the poorest to achieve better living standards by the year 2015.
In most developing countries, the MDGs have formed a critical element of government policy-decisions for performance benchmarking. Although Africa as a whole has experienced remarkable change since the goals were set in 2000, sub-Saharan Africa is claimed to be the region that has witnessed the least MDG progress compared to other developing regions.
Although considerable achievements have been made on many of the MDG targets universally, progress has not been uniform across the developing regions and nations, leaving substantial gaps. Millions of people are lagging behind, especially the poor and disadvantaged due to their age, sex, ethnicity, disability, and geographic location.
MDG1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Millions continue to live in hunger and poverty, lacking access to basic services
- Despite remarkable progress, about 800 million people continue to live in absolute poverty and suffer from hunger. More than 160 million children below 5-years have inadequate height for their age because of insufficient food.
MDG2 – Achieve universal primary education
- In 2015, 57 million children of primary school age do not attend school.
- Compared to children in the richest households, those in the poorest households are four times more likely to be out of school. Under-five mortality rates are nearly twice as high for children in the poorest households compared to the wealthiest households.
MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
- Gender inequality persists. Women in many parts of the world continue to face discrimination in access to economic assets, work, and participation in public and private decision-making. They are also more likely to live in poverty compared to men.
- In the Caribbean and Latin America, the ratio of women to men in poor households grew from 108 women for every 100 men to 117 for every 100 men between 1997 and 2012, despite the decreasing rate of poverty for the entire region.
- With regard to the global labour market, women remain to be at a disadvantage, as three-quarters of working-age men take part in the labour force compared to only fifty percent of working-age women. Women also earn 24 percent less than men worldwide.
- In 85 percent of the 92 nations with data on the rate of unemployment based on the level of education between 2012 and ’13, women with tertiary education tend to have higher rates of unemployment compared to men with similar levels of education.
MDG 4: Reduce child mortality
- About 16,000 children die each day before they reach five years of age, mostly due to preventable causes.
- Huge gaps still exist between the poorest and richest households, as well as between rural and urban areas
- In the developing nations, children from 20 percent of the poorest households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as those from 20 percent of the wealthiest.
MDG 5: Improve maternal health
- The maternal mortality ratio in developing nations is 14 times higher than in the developed nations.
- Just 50 percent of pregnant women in developing countries can receive the recommended minimum of 4 antenatal care visits
- In rural areas, 44 percent of births are done in the absence of skilled health personnel, compared with 13 percent in urban areas.
MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
An estimated 36 percent of the 31.5 million people living with HIV in developing nations were said to be receiving ART in 2013.
MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
- Close to 5.2 million hectares of forest cover were lost in 2010.
- Climate change and environmental degradation undercut progress achieved
- Global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by more than 50 percent since 1990. The surge in greenhouse gas emissions has impacted climate change with regard to weather extremes, altered ecosystems, and risks to society, which remain urgent and critical challenges for the universal community.
- The overexploitation of marine fish stocks resulted in the decline in the percentage of stocks within the safe biological limits – from 90 to 71 percent between 1974 and 2011. Generally, all species are declining in numbers and distribution, increasing the risk of extinction.
- Water shortage affects 40 percent of the global population and is projected to increase.
- Nearly 50 percent of global workers continue to work in vulnerable conditions, and rarely get to enjoy the fruits associated with decent work.
- In 2015, an estimated 2.4 billion people (One in three) use unimproved sanitation facilities, including 946 million people still practising open defecation.
- In 2015, 880 million people are estimated to be living in slum-like conditions in the developing region’s cities.
- About 84 percent of the rural population has access to improved drinking water sources compared to 96 percent of the urban dwellers.
- About half of the people living in rural areas have access to improved sanitation facilities, compared to 82 percent of people in urban areas.
MDG 8: Develop a global partnership for development
- Conflict remains the greatest threat to human development.
- By 2015, conflicts had forced nearly 60 million people to leave their homes – the highest number recorded since the Second World War
- Every day, about 42,000 people are forcibly displaced and compelled to seek protection due to conflicts, which is nearly 4 times the number in 2010 (11,000).
- 50 percent of the global refugee population is made up of children, which has constituted to the increase in number of out-of-school children from 30 percent to 36 percent between 1999 and 2012.
The MDG targets have led to many successes, though the poorest and most vulnerable people are being left behind. As such, targeted efforts will be critical to reaching these disadvantaged people.