It’s been a good few days for Millennium Development Goals. Not one but two targets were reported as met last week, which means that we have reason to celebrate. First, the Economist reported on March 3 that global poverty in 2010 was half the level it was in 1990, meaning that in spite of the worldwide economic downturn, fewer people are living in absolute poverty. And on March 6, the United Nations reported that in 2010, 89 percent of the world’s population enjoyed access to safe drinking water — 1 percent more than the 88 percent requirement published at the Millennium Summit in 2000.
These accomplishments translate to much more than a mere check mark on the world’s proverbial to-do list. For the first time since 1981, the number of people living in absolute poverty is dropping — which means better opportunities for longer, healthier lives the world over. The fulfillment of the safe drinking water goal is crucial: Most deaths from diarrheal disease — which claims 3,000 children’s lives every day — are due to poor drinking water and shortcomings in sanitation and hygiene. As more people gain access to good water, fewer will suffer from diarrheal disease.
But even as we break out the balloons, we must keep in mind that these great achievements represent only the beginning. It’s terrific that there’s been such progress benefiting those who live on less than $1.25 per day, but according to the Economist, roughly 2.44 billion people still live on less than $2 per day, with 1.16 billion living on between $1.25 and $2 per day. Let’s take advantage of the momentum we’ve built and continue fighting for what’s right: happy, healthy lives for everyone.
A big thank you to all our ONE members for all you do to make the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a reality. If you need a refresher on your MDGs, you can brush up here and, as always, feel free to offer your questions and comments below.