In the year 2000, all the world’s countries came together and agreed to make a commitment to ending poverty and improving the well-being of the poor and marginalized around the world. They decided on a set of 8 goals, which they hoped would be achieved over 15 years, by 2015. These goals are:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality rates
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
Governments, international institutions, development organizations, and committed people around the world have now been working to make progress towards these goals for more than a decade. Improvements have been made in many areas, but a huge amount of effort is required to reach the targets in the remaining years leading to 2015.
From the beginning, it has been clear that achieving these goals would depend on large improvements being made in India, since it was estimated to be home to a third of the world’s poor. In 2010, a report was released by the United Nations to assess the changes made in India so far. Here are some of the results.
-India has made great strides in increasing the number of children attending primary school, creating access to clean water, and conserving natural resources. However, at the current rate of progress, it is not aimed to meet targets in the areas of poverty, hunger, health, and gender equality.
-Hunger continues to be a persistent problem and India still accounts for 50% of the world’s hungry. It is estimated that more than 46% of children in India are undernourished.
-Mothers and children in India continue to face major health risks. For every 1,000 live births, an average of 74 children will die before their 5th birthday and an average of 254 women die giving birth to a child for every 100,000.
-The Government of India has created many rights-based laws and innovative development programs with the potential to make great progress in these areas. However, problems such a persistent inequality, ineffective delivery of public services, weak accountability systems, and gaps in the implementation of pro-poor policies often prevent those most in need from accessing assistance.
SAFP is striving to make these goals and their targets a reality as we approach 2015. Not only are we working with poor families and communities to meet their basic needs, we are also helping them to gain access to government programs and services and to address the issues of inequality and corruption. Our programs have also expanded into new areas of the country that are struggling to make progress, including Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, and Uttar Pradesh. Through the joint efforts of many committed groups working to achieve these goals, we are hopeful that we can greatly improve the lives of those most in need in India and around the world.
For more information about the Millennuim Development Goals and India’s progress, visit http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html.
By Cassandra Griffin