Bill Gates has a dream. And it has a deadline.

Bill and Melinda Gates are long-time supporters of the Millennium Development Goals. In a new interactive blog, Bill explains how they came to love these eight poverty-busting goals and looks at the progress that has been made so far.

Here at ONE we’re also following this progress closely. Our 2013 DATA Report, “Financing the Fight for Africa’s Transformation“, looks at which countries in sub-Saharan Africa are on track to meet the most goals, and which are falling behind. This data has been visually mapped (see image above) to give an instant picture of progress across the continent.

The fact that the Millennium Development Goals have concrete numbers attached to them and a 2015 deadline is important, says Bill.

“You can use the goals to measure progress around the world and in specific countries. And the measures apply to things that everyone can rally around, like saving children’s lives and preventing maternal mortality. I’ve been writing about measurement a lot this year, because I’ve found that measuring progress is the only way to drive lasting success.”

With all this focus on big numbers, it can be easy to forget that what we’re talking about are people’s lives. Mothers with determination, children with dreams, young people with career ambitions – all doing what they can to make tomorrow better than yesterday, and escape the poverty that so often stops them reaching their full potential.  For many of us, progress looks like charts and graphs, but what does it actually look like for the people these lines represent?

This video tells the story of how Ethiopia invested in training 34,000 people in rural communities as health extension workers, bringing better health care to millions of people in hard to reach areas.

There is definitely a lot to celebrate, but some of the goals are likely to be missed and there is still a long way to go until extreme poverty is virtually eliminated.  This is Bill’s perspective:

“The Millennium Development Goals aren’t a test that the world will either pass or fail. They’re more like a report card. Some country is getting an A in every subject. The ones that aren’t doing as well can go learn from the ones that are. Without the MDGs, we wouldn’t have any idea who was acing the test and who was struggling to get by.”

With the 2015 deadline looming, the world is already looking ahead to the goals which will replace them.  Our You Choose campaign consulted over 150,000 people across Africa on what those goals should be, and Bill has his own set of qualities he hopes will be reflected in the new targets.

Explore the full interactive post.