UN report provides 'good' MDG roadmap

Contaminated water in an urban slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The 2012 progress report on the Millennium Development Goals claims to have “exceeded” the MDG target of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. Photo by: Kibae Park / U.N. Photo / CC By-NC-ND

The 2012 progress report on the Millennium Development Goals is best summarized in the words of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “Success is uneven within countries and regions.”

Apart from meeting the MDGs on poverty reduction and access to improved sources of water, both of which remain contentious to this day, the latest report claims to have “exceeded” the MDG target of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.

The number of urban people living in slums dropped to 33 percent as of June 2012 from 39 percent in 2000, according to the report. And more than 200 million now have access to improved water sources, sanitation facilities or “durable or less crowded housing.”

But looking at the report’s colorful progress chart, only four regions are in green, or have met or exceeded this MDG: North Africa, and East, Southeast and South Asia. Progress in sub-Saharan Africa, where there is a high proportion of slum dwellers, remains “insufficient” to reach the target. And in Western Asia, progress has deteriorated since 2000.

The report also records no progress in Oceania, and provides no data on Caucasus and Central Asia. And despite said reductions earlier, an estimated 863 million people continue to live in slums — up from the 650 million people in 1990.

The report also claims to have achieved “parity” in the ratio of boys and girls receiving primary education, with many reaching a gender parity index of 95 and up. But not much progress is achieved in the secondary and tertiary levels, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The region posted a GPI of 82 and 63 in secondary and tertiary education in 2010.

Other causes for concern include slow progress in the reduction in maternal deaths and pregnancy among adolescents, and contraception use, and the lack of progress in tackling hunger in parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

“The comprehensive statistics and clear analysis in this year’s MDG Report give us all a good idea of where our efforts should be directed,” Undersecretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang said. The deadline is less than three years away.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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