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Sub-saharan Africa lags, rest of the world on track to meet poverty goals

New York, 9 June 2005
Asia's remarkable victories in its war on poverty have put the world, except for sub-Saharan Africa, on target to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), designed by a United Nations summit five years ago to reduce extreme poverty and other forms of deprivation by 2015.
The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen of by 130 million worldwide since 1990, even with overall growth of more than 800 million in the developing regions since then, according to "The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005", and interim survey launched by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other senior UN officials today in New York.

"During the 1990s, extreme poverty dropped in much of Asia, fell slowly in Latin America, changed little in Northern Africa and Western Asia and rose and then started to decline in the transition economies. But in sub-Saharan Africa, which already had the highest poverty rate in the world, the situation deteriorated further," the reports says. And while about one billion people in the developing world still live on less than a dollar day, in Sub-Saharan Africa, that income actually fell, from 62 cents a day in 1990 to 60 cents in 2001.

"The year 2005 is crucial in our work to achieve the Goals," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a foreword to the report. "In September - five years after they adopted the Millenium Declaration and 10 years before the Goals fall due - world leaders will meet at the United Nations in New York to assess how far their pledges have been fulfilled and to decide on what further steps are needed," he says.

The report, with its charts and graphs, is the most comprehensive accounting for each region of the world, he says, and shows that there is a risk that the poorest countries will not be able to meet many of the Goals. The world has the means to ensure that nearly every country can fulfil the MDGs, but the challenge is to deploy those means, he adds.

Mr. Annan recalls that in his March report, "In Larger Freedom," he says, "Let us be clear about the costs of missing this opportunity: millions of lives that could have been saved will be lost; many freedoms that could have been secured will be denied; and we shall inhabit a more dangerous and unstable world."

By 2015, the poorest countries in Africa are likely to have a rising proportion of those living in extreme poverty, lacking a primary school education and dying before the age of 5, the MDGs report says. It goes on to detail the trends affecting the achievement of the other Goals in primary, education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, and promoting global partnerships for development.
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