Millennium Development Goals: Africa lags behind other regions
Poverty and hunger: While the proportion of people living on one dollar a day or less has declined from 45.9 percent to 41.1 percent since 1999, reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the extent of extreme poverty by 2015 requires that the current pace is nearly doubled. At the same time, despite a high regional population growth rate of 2.3 percent a year, the rising number of extreme poor has levelled off, increasing only marginally from 296 million in 1999 to 298 million in 2004.
Progress for children has been excruciatingly slow towards the target of halving the extent of hunger, as the proportion of under-fives who are underweight declined by not much more than one tenth between 1990 and 2005, from 33 percent to 29 percent.
Education: There has been progress towards universal primary education, with enrolment increasing from 57 percent in 1999 to 70 percent in 2005 – but a gap of 30 percent remains, and the number of school age children is increasing daily. In 2007, there were 348 million youngsters in sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 14, up from 237 million in 1990. The number is expected to reach 403 million in 2015.
Gender equality: Although the share of parliamentary seats held by women has increased substantially, from 7 percent in 1990 to 17 percent this year, the share of women who earn a salary, aside from farming, still stood at less than one-third in 2005.
Child mortality: Under-five mortality rates dropped from 185 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 166 per 1,000 in 2005 – hardly making a dent in the objective of a two-thirds reduction by 2015, and now at twice the rate in the developing world as a whole. One positive step: due to extensive vaccination campaigns, measles cases and deaths on the sub-continent fell by nearly 75 percent between 1999 and 2005.
Maternal health: Maternal health remains a regional and global scandal, with the odds that a sub-Saharan African woman will die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth at 1 in 16, compared to 1 in 3,800 in the developed world.
AIDS and other diseases: The number of people dying from AIDS continues to escalate, reaching two million in 2006. Although prevalence rates have levelled off, the number of new cases, especially among women, as well as the number of people with advanced HIV infection continues to grow and is rising faster than treatment services are being scaled up. There is no evidence that the very high rate of new TB cases in sub-Saharan Africa is starting to level off.
Environmental sustainability: Only 42 percent of people in rural areas had access to clean water, according to the latest 2004 data, and 63 percent of the entire population lacked access to basic sanitation facilities – down only fractionally from 68 percent in 1990, and far from the target of cutting this proportion in half by 2015.
The effects of climate change, which are already being felt, will only make achievement of the MDGs on the subcontinent more difficult. According to projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 75 to 250 million people will be exposed to an increase of water stress. Without adequate preparation, the impact could be devastating to rural economies and the livelihoods of the poor.
Source United Nations: Africa and the Millennium Goals - 2007 Update. www.un.org/millenniumgoals/docs/MDGafrica07.pdf
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