Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC)

Millennium Development Goals – our mid term report card (DACNews June-August 2005)


The release of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report 2005 this week evoked mixed emotions for the OECD DAC. The conclusion is no real surprise. If current trends persist, there is a risk that many of the poorest countries will not be able to meet the MDGs. You can read a summary of the key findings here.

It's an easy read...

The DAC Secretariat provided a substantial amount of the statistical data and analysis for the report by providing information on aid volumes and the distribution of official aid from donor countries.

Ever wondered where the MDGs came from? The OECD DAC. In 1996 the DAC came up with the idea of creating a user-friendly set of development goals to help political leaders explain to a broad public the case for providing aid. When the DAC published Shaping the 21st Century, for the first time the world had a compact set of International Development Goals to measure poverty reduction, human development and environmental sustainability. The goals were set for 2015, stretching out time horizons for development efforts to two decades, much beyond the habitual five years for development planning.

The DAC then engaged developing countries, multilateral organisations including the World Bank, IMF and the UN, as well as NGOs in fleshing out a series of indicators to measure progress towards the goals and user-friendly ways to present this progress. The result was a joint publication in 2000. A Better World for All signed by the Secretary-General of the OECD, the Managing Director of the IMF, the President of the World Bank and the Secretary General of the UN. This was the first time ever that these four eminent institutions had jointly signed such a report, signalling a new level of consensus and cooperation in the international development system.

These goals went on to become the Millennium Development Goals and were adopted by the United Nations and the international community in 2000 at the signing of the Millennium Declaration.

The OECD DAC is now in the process of delivering another set of indicators and targets which we hope will do for the aid effectiveness agenda, what the MDGs are doing for aid volumes: give the development community a single package by which to measure not just how much aid we give, but how well we do it. 

Over one hundred countries took part in the negotiations which produced the Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness, signed in March of this year. Key indicators and targets will be presented to Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York on September 14-15 when there will be a further report on progress towards the MDGs at the UN Summit.

Key highlights of the UN Millennium Development Report:

The good news is there have been unprecedented gains against poverty in Asia; that the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen off by 130 million; five developing regions are on track to achieve universal primary school enrolment; there is some improvement in the reduction of maternal deaths in developing regions; many more life-saving mosquito nets are being distributed today than in 1990; there are signs of improvement in environmental indicators; and since the 1990s, women’s share of seats in parliament has steadily increased.

The bad news is the poorest are getting poorer; the decline in hunger is slowing; tuberculosis is back; half the developing world lacks access to simple sanitation; and death rates for under-five year olds are not dropping as fast as they should.

GOAL 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Global poverty decreases, led by countries of Eastern, South Eastern and Southern Asia, with the Latin American-Caribbean region also contributing.  But the poorest people in the world  are getting poorer
  • Millions more people have sunk into poverty in sub-Saharan Africa between 1990 and 2001. Proportion of people living on less than $1 a day in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 44.6% in 1990 to 46.4% in 2001
  • For the very poor in sub-Saharan Africa the average income actually fell, from 62 cents a day in 1990 to 60 cents in 2001
  • In more than 30 countries hunger was reduced by 25 per cent during the last decade
  • But progress has slowed. The number of people going hungry increased between 1997 and 2002
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of hungry people increased by tens of millions, and the number of underweight children increased from 29 million to 37 million between 1990 and 2003
  • Out of 13 million deaths in large-scale conflicts from 1994-2003, over 12 million were in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Africa and Southern Asia.

GOAL 2 – Achieve universal primary education

  • Five regions are close to universal enrolment (at least 90% enrolled in South-Eastern Asia, Northern Africa, CIS Asia, Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean)
  • Others still lag: sub-Saharan Africa still has about a third of its children out of school, and Southern Asia, Oceania and Western Asia have about 20% of their children out of school 
  • In 1999 in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 1 million children lost their teacher to AIDS.

GOAL 3 – Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Of some 65 developing countries, about half have achieved gender parity in primary education, about 20% in secondary and 8% in higher education
  • Women in Latin America and the Caribbean hold well over 40% of paying jobs
  • But over 60% of people working in family enterprises without pay are women
  • Since the 1990s women’s share of seats in parliament has increased, but women still only hold 16% of seats worldwide
  • Women hold 49% of seats in Rwanda’s National Assembly after elections in 2003 – the closest any country has come to gender parity in parliament.

GOAL 4 – Reduce child mortality

  • Every year, almost 11 million children die – 30,000 per day – before their fifth birthday. Most live in developing countries and die from preventable diseases
  • Progress in reducing child mortality has slowed. Only in Northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South East-Asia has progress remained good
  • Almost half of all deaths among children under 5 occur in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Just 5 diseases continue to account for all deaths in children under 5: pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and AIDS
  • Immunisation rates against measles is lowest in Oceania (57% of children are immunised).

GOAL 5 – Improve maternal health

  • In countries with moderate to low levels of maternal mortality, significant reductions have been made, but deaths remain high in the poorest countries
  • Because of a high number of births, the chances of dieing in childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa are as high as 1 in 16, compared with 1 in 3,800 in the developed world
  • But the good news is that 57% of births in developing countries are now attended by skilled health personnel compared to 41% in 1990.

GOAL 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and others diseases

  • AIDS is now the leading cause of premature death in sub-Saharan Africa and the 4th largest killer world-wide
  • More the 20 million have died across the world since the epidemic began. By the end of 2004 about 39 million people were living with HIV
  • Thailand and Uganda have successfully reversed infection rates
  • Malaria claims the lives of 1 million people per year, most of them children. Tuberculosis is making a come-back
  • HIV is spreading fastest in the European countries of CIS and parts of Asia
  • AIDS is robbing children of parents in record numbers. In 2003 there were over 4 million children in sub-Saharan Africa alone who had lost both parents to AIDS and 12 million who had lost one parent
  • In sub-Saharan Africa alone more than 2,000 children a day die from malaria
  • Distribution of mosquito nets has increased tenfold since 2000.

GOAL 7 – Ensure environmental sustainability

  • About 19 million square kilometres – over 13% of the earth’s land surface has now been designated as protected areas. But lost of species and habitats continue
  • Rich countries produce most of the greenhouse gases
  • Ozone-depleting substances have been drastically reduced through unprecedented global cooperation
  • The proportion of population using improved sources of water in the developing world has increased from 71% in 1990 to 79% in 2002
  • But 1.1 billion people were still using water form unimproved sources in 2002
  • Sanitation coverage in the developing world rose from 34% in 1990 to 49% in 2002
  • Nearly one in three city dwellers in developing countries – almost 1 billion – live in slums.

GOAL 8 – Develop a global partnership for development

  • Aid is critical for the poorest countries, while middle-income countries benefit more from trade
  • Money sent home by migrants working in developed countries totalled some $34 billion in 2000
  • ODA is at a record high of $79 billion (2004). But aid is still equivalent to just one quarter of 1 per cent of donor counties national income 
  • A large amount of the recent increase in aid has been used to cancel debts and meet humanitarian and reconstruction needs
  • The share of total aid going to basic human needs (such as those targeted in the MDGs) has doubled since the mid-1990s. But aid share devoted to agriculture and physical infrastructure has diminished
  • Almost two thirds of exports from developing countries now enter developed countries duty-free
  • Tariffs on important exports from developing countries remain largely unchanged
  • A debt-relief programme for the most heavily indebted countries has reduced future debt repayments for 27 nations by $54 billion.
  • Nearly half the world’s 2.8 billion workers still live on less than $2 a day
  • Of the 185 million jobless people worldwide, just under half are young people aged 15-24. In developing countries young people are three times more likely than adults to be unemployed.