The first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) focuses on eradicating poverty, hunger and decent work. These three targets realize that poor health and lack of education deprive people of productive employment. Depleted and spoiled environmental resources; and corruption, conflict, and misgovernance that waste public resources and discourage private investment also trap people in poverty. While poverty exists everywhere, there has been progress.
Target 1A: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.25 a day
Extreme poverty is defined as average daily consumption of $1.25 or less. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been falling since 1990 with the largest reduction occurring in East Asia and Pacific. In South Asia accelerated growth in India could lift millions more out of poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa, which stagnated through most of the 1990s, has begun to reduce the number of people in extreme poverty.
The international poverty line was revalued from $1.08 a day (in 1993 prices) to $1.25 (in 2005 prices), using new estimates of the cost of living derived from the 2005 International Comparison Program. Sub-Saharan Africa will be the only region with a sizable number of people in extreme poverty that fails to reach the target.
Target 1B: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
Increasing productivity is the key to raising incomes and reducing poverty. Over the past two decades output per worker has grown faster in Asia and Eastern Europe than in high-income economies. East Asia and Pacific has made the largest gains but has still not caught up with the middle-income economies of Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa. Average productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa remains very low, roughly at the level in East Asia and Pacific in 1999.
Vulnerable employment accounts for just over half of world employment in 2007 and remains high in East Asia and Pacific, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Women were also found to be more likely than men to be in vulnerable employment.
1c. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
Undernourishment measures the availability of food to meet people’s basic energy needs. Rising agricultural production has kept ahead of population growth in most regions, but rising prices and the diversion of food crops to fuel production have reversed the declining rate of undernourishment since 2004–06. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the number of people worldwide who receive less than 2,100 calories a day rose from 873 million in 2004–06 to 915 million in 2006–08 and could rise further in the next two years (FAO 2009b).
A shortfall in food calories is only one cause of malnutrition. The distribution of food within families, a person’s health, and the availability of micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) also affect nutritional outcomes. Women and children are the most vulnerable. Even before the recent food crisis, about a quarter of children in Sub-Saharan Africa and two-fifths in South Asia were underweight. And children in the poorest households in developing countries are more than twice as likely to be underweight as those in the richest households.
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