Published every quarter, the World Bank’s World Development Indicators are one of the go-to sources for those looking to see a snapshot of the development of a particular region or a country in a certain income group.
While the recently released WDI includes three new indicators — shared prosperity, statistical capacity and particulate matter concentrations — the 2015 data is particularly interesting because it represents the last set of figures that gauges the progress made toward the Millennium Development Goals, which will expire this year.
In the developing world, two MDG targets will likely be missed: curbing infant mortality and reducing maternal mortality. A closer look at low-income countries, however, shows that improved sanitation is also seriously off target.
Below is a more detailed picture of how the world is faring with the MDG targets.
MDG 1.1 Extreme poverty
The majority of countries in the developing world have already met the target of halving the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day. Still, the burden of extreme poverty is high in sub-Saharan Africa, where 21 countries are unlikely to hit the 2015 target. The World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report noted that the extent of poverty in the region, which could stand at 23.6 percent by 2030, has not met the momentum needed for extreme poverty to be significantly slashed.
MDG 1.9 Undernourishment
Fifty-two developing countries are likely to miss the target of reducing the proportion of people suffering from hunger by half this year. In the Middle East and North Africa, where 11 countries are off target, the majority are expected to be unable to reduce the proportion of population below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption. While sub-Saharan Africa has a lower percentage of its population suffering from undernourishment, the region has 17 countries that are unlikely to achieve the target this year.
MDG 2.1 Primary education completion
Twenty-eight percent of developing countries have already met the target of having children complete a full course of primary schooling, but 28 percent of these countries are also a long way from achieving it. Compared with the low-income category, where 26 percent of countries are likely to miss the target, more lower-middle-income countries have a lower net enrollment ratio in primary education. Among the regions, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean are the most in need of catching up with the primary education target.
MDG 3.1 Education gender parity
Eliminating gender disparity in primary, secondary and tertiary education has been met with considerable success in the developing world, where 46 percent of countries have already hit the target and 7 percent have shown sufficient progress. The high proportion of small states and Latin American and Caribbean countries that have succeeded in ensuring equal access to education for girls and boys is also encouraging. But in the Middle East and North Africa, a lot more needs to be done to attain gender balance in school classrooms.
MDG 4.1 Under-5 mortality
An overall picture of deaths of children younger than five years in the developing world shows that 23 percent of countries are unlikely to meet the target of reducing by two-thirds the rate of under-5 mortality. In fragile and conflict-affected settings, the rate worryingly climbs to 45 percent — a grim reflection of the dangers that children are exposed to in these situations. The under-5 mortality is also high in small states, where 42 percent of countries are unlikely to reach the target.
MDG 4.2 Infant mortality
Seventy-seven developing countries are in dire need of lowering their infant mortality rate to meet the target of reducing child mortality. In East Asia and the Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa, the percentage of countries that are unlikely to achieve the target is strikingly high. Meanwhile, there is a large proportion of small states and conflict-affected environments that are similarly unable to meet the target this year.
MDG 5. 1 Maternal mortality
Eighty-eight developing countries are likely to miss the target of reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters this year. Most Latin American and Caribbean countries, in particular, are off the maternal mortality reduction mark. While the proportion of sub-Saharan African countries that are unlikely to achieve the target is lower, the region had a maternal mortality ratio of 510 per 100,000 live births in 2013 — the highest in the world.
MDG 7.8 Improved drinking water source
Most developing countries have already hit the target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water — a feat that may likely be due to the investments that donors have made in potable water treatment plants. South Asia, which has the highest percentage of countries that have already met the target, is the only region with no countries that are far from achieving the target, although 13 percent of South Asian countries do not have sufficient data for this particular indicator. Meanwhile, in fragile countries and conflict-affected areas, where the supply of potable water can be interrupted or even cut, the majority are unsurprisingly unlikely to meet the target.
MDG 7.9 Improved sanitation
Most sub-Saharan African countries are likely to miss the target of reducing the number of people without access to proper sanitation by half this year. The proportion of the population using improved sanitation facilities is also lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, which only had 30 percent of its population with access to better sanitation in 2012. Recently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation raised awareness of the need for better sanitation indicators.