Welcome. Join Us.
The Millennium Development Goals: How is Africa Doing?
With five-years remaining until the deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), world leaders will gather this September at the United Nations to review progress and set an action plan to meet the targets by 2015. Although as a region sub-Saharan Africa remains furthest from meeting the MDGs, individual African countries are making progress towards many of the targets and a growing group of countries (such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Malawi) are making significant progress towards multiple goals.
Here is a quick snapshot of the continent's progress towards the MDGs:
MDG 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger: Although a few sub-Saharan African countries are on track to meet the MDG target of halving poverty and hunger by 2015, the region is not expected to meet the targets at its current pace. More than half of sub-Saharan Africa's population (388 million people) is living in extreme poverty and 239 million people are suffering from hunger. The impact of the financial crisis and the spike in food prices in 2008 seriously undermined earlier progress reducing poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa and around the world. After five consecutive years of real GDP growth averaging 5-6%, the continent's growth is expected to slow to just 1% in 2009. In 2010 alone, the financial crisis pushed 64 million more people into extreme poverty around the world, and 40 million more people went hungry. Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Senegal are making significant progress towards MDG1.
MDG 2 Achieve universal primary education: Sub-Saharan Africa sent 42 million additional children to school between 1999 and 2007. In sub-Saharan Africa, 71% of girls were enrolled in school in 2007, up from only 53% in 1999. Despite this progress, more than one-fourth of children in the region are still not enrolled in school, and millions more drop out of school early, fail to complete a full cycle, or graduate without basic reading and math competency. On average, only 63% of students who enroll in school in sub-Saharan Africa complete the last grade of primary education. Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia are making significant progress towards MDG 2.
MDG 3 Promote gender equality and empower women: African women still face significant barriers in starting a business, accessing an education, and participating in politics. African women bear the burden of unpaid work, and eight out of ten women in the region's workforce do not receive a formal wage. Sub-Saharan Africa also has the world's second largest gender gap in primary school enrollment (91 girls per 100 boys) and the largest in secondary school enrolment (79 per 100). On the political front, some progress has been made increasing women's representation in legislatures. In seven African countries, women now hold 30% or more of the seats in their national parliament. The Gambia, Lesotho and Rwanda are making significant progress towards MDG 3.
MDG 4 Reduce child mortality: Sub-Saharan Africa's under-five mortality has declined by 22% since 1990, thanks in large part to increased use of insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria infection and access to immunizations. However, the region is not on track to meet the MDG to reduce child mortality by two-thirds. In 2008 the highest rates of child mortality worldwide were in sub-Saharan Africa, and the region accounted for half of the world's 8.8 million deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa is also the only region of the world where the under-five mortality rate is increasing in some countries. Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger are making significant progress towards MDG 4.
MDG 5 Improve maternal health: Maternal health has been one area where sub-Saharan Africa has seen some of the least progress in recent years. New statistics show that every year, 190,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa, a number that represents more than half of the global total. An African woman is more than 200 times more likely than an American woman to die in childbirth, and only half of all women in Africa have access to a skilled birth attendant.
MDG 6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases: Efforts to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria have delivered some impressive results over the past decade. For example, approximately 4 million people in Africa are now receiving HIV/AIDS medication (up from only 50,000 people in 2002) and the Global Fund has delivered 122 million bed nets to protect families from malaria, helping to reduce malaria cases and deaths by up to 50% in a handful of countries. However, health systems in sub-Saharan Africa remain extremely weak and progress curbing the spread of HIV and combating tuberculosis has been slow. Although there has been a decline in the annual number of new HIV infections in sub- Saharan Africa, it remains the most heavily affected region. For every person put on treatment for HIV/AIDS in the region, two people or more are newly infected with the virus. Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda are making significant progress towards MDG 6.
MDG 7 Ensure environmental sustainability: Progress increasing access to clean water and adequate sanitation has been slow and uneven across sub-Saharan Africa. 60% of people in the region currently have access to clean water and only 31% have access to adequate sanitation. And although climate change is not a crisis of Africa's making, evidence shows the impact of climate change will hit African people the hardest (especially among the poorest) and undermine the long-term sustainability of progress made towards the MDGs. Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia and Malawi are making significant progress towards MDG 7.
Achieving the first seven MDGs requires success on MDG 8, which calls for "a global partnership for development." The UN Summit provides an opportunity for world leaders to take stock of progress and redefine the strategy to meet the MDGs in the next five years. The experience of the past decade demonstrates that while a successful global partnership for development requires increased resources from both donors and developing countries, it also requires improved trade policies, trade capacity building and investment to spur economic growth, as well as improved governance, civil society engagement and transparency in African countries to ensure that resources for development are used effectively. Without these long-term conditions for development and self-sufficiency - committed, transparent leadership and strong economies - results over the past decade cannot be sustained. Any new strategy to meet the MDGs should include a new emphasis on economic growth and improved governance, as well as commitments from both developing and developed countries to increase investments in effective programs that have delivered results over the past decade.