FEATURE STORY

Bank, Global Partners Redouble Commitment to Millennium Development Goals

September 13, 2010

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Global community to review progress on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at U.N Summit.
  • Developing country progress toward the MDGs has been slowed by recent food, fuel, and financial crises.
  • World Bank commits to new financing to help countries reach the MDGs--$8.3 billion in agriculture; $750 million in education; and $600 million in health.

September 13, 2010 — Next week a special session of the U.N. General Assembly will meet in New York to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which commit member countries and their development partners to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger, and significantly improve the economic and human welfare of poor people worldwide by 2015.

Until the food, fuel and financial crises in the last two years, developing countries were making progress in reaching these goals—although at different paces. In 1981, 52% of people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty; by 2005, that share had fallen to 25%. The efforts of countries and their partners were paying off right up until the crises, with poverty falling sharply in East Asia, Latin America, and Eastern and Central Europe. But this progress has not been shared by all.

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to lag in overcoming poverty, and hunger and malnutrition rates have been falling—but not fast enough to eradicate hunger by 2015. Too many of the world’s people remain hungry, poor or vulnerable to poverty, with too few jobs and too little access to services and economic opportunity.

Unfinished business

According to a new World Bank paper, Unfinished Business: Mobilizing New Efforts to Achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, 64 million more people were living in extreme poverty (below $1.25/day) in 2010. By 2015, 1.2 million more children under five may die, 350,000 more students may not complete primary school, and about 100 million more people may remain without access to safe water.

Open Quotes

As we take stock of the MDGs so far, we see the crises only made things worse, with too many of the world’s people hungry, poor or vulnerable to poverty, with too few jobs and too little access to services and economic opportunity. Close Quotes

Robert B. Zoellick
World Bank Group President

For the first time in history, more than 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night.

With economic growth in developing countries comprising half of all growth in the global economy, there is a shared responsibility to help countries get back on track to achieve the promise of the MDGs.

“As we take stock of the MDGs so far, we see the crises only made things worse, with too many of the world’s people hungry, poor or vulnerable to poverty, with too few jobs and too little access to services and economic opportunity,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.

“We must therefore redouble efforts to target support to the poor and vulnerable. We need to invest in what works and fix what doesn’t. And as we do, we always need to keep in mind that this work is ultimately about empowering people. The human spirit can accomplish amazing things. We need to give everyone that opportunity.”

New financing

The Bank is helping countries reach the MDGs with new health, education, and agriculture financing from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s zero-interest fund for the poorest.

At the MDGs Summit, the Bank will pledge to focus on 35 countries that are facing challenges in achieving their MDGs because of high fertility and poor child and maternal nutrition and disease, and scale up health systems strengthening through an additional $600 million investment in results-based programs. The Bank will also increase its zero-interest and grant investment in education by an additional $750 million, and boost support to agriculture by $8.3 billion a year, up from $4.1 billion annually before 2008.

Results that resonate

Through IDA, more than 3 million teachers have been recruited and/or trained, more than 2 million classrooms have been built or rehabilitated; and 300 million textbooks have been purchased and/or distributed. Results in health have resonated, as well.

More than 47 million people have been provided with access to basic health, nutrition or population services, 2.5 million pregnant women have received antenatal care, 310 million children have been immunized, the nutrition of 98 million children has improved, and 2 million adults and children with HIV received antiretroviral therapies. Complementing these results are the more than 113 million people who now have access to an improved water source.

As the Bank continues to work across key development areas—from opportunities for women, health, education and nutrition, to clean water and creating jobs—these results are helping countries chart the course toward achieving the MDGs.