Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 19:03 UK

Development goals 'falling short'

By Steve Schifferes
Economics reporter, BBC News

Kabul street children
It is touch and go whether global poverty goals will be met

The World Bank has warned that developing countries are unlikely to reach their targets for improving living conditions by 2015.

The report warns that many of the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000 are likely to be missed.

Whilst most countries are on target to reach the goals of reducing extreme poverty, they are lagging behind on health and education.

The Bank says that foreign aid spending by rich countries has stalled.

"Developing countries need more foreign aid and domestic resources to meet these goals," said Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who co-authored the report.


"I am particularly concerned about the risk of meeting the goals of reducing hunger and malnutrition," World Bank President Robert Zoellick added, "which has a multiplier effect for success in other goals including maternal health, infant mortality and education."

These poverty goals are not lofty ideals, but realistic and achievable target

The report says that the biggest shortfalls are in reaching goals of reducing infant and maternal mortality, but there are also serious shortfalls in relation to primary school education, nutrition and sanitation.

And while sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to miss nearly all of the goals, there is also serious concern about conditions in South Asia, where the largest group of the world's poor now live.

South Asia has the highest rate of child malnutrition, and is also likely to fall short on the goals of education and child mortality.

"Given South Asia's recent rapid growth rate, the lack of progress in reducing child malnutrition is all the more troubling," said the World Bank's chief economist for South Asia, Shanta Devarajan.

There is some good news: the number of people living in extreme poverty of $1 per day fell by 278m between 1990 and 2004, mainly because of the rapid growth in China.

But there are still 1 billion people who lack access to clean water, 1.6 billion who lack access to modern energy sources, and 2.6 billion who lack access to basic sanitation.

Aid shortfall

The report points out that international development assistance - estimated at $103.7bn in 2007 - actually fell compared to the previous year, despite promises by the G8 countries at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 to double aid by 2010.

"These poverty goals are not lofty ideals, but realistic and achievable targets," said the international development charity Oxfam.

"Amazingly, rich countries gave twice as much of their income to poor countries in 1963 than they did in 2007."

Further adding to the pressure on poor people in developing countries is the rapid increase in food prices in the past year.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick is keen to find ways that the World Bank can help with the food crisis. He wants sovereign wealth funds, such as those owned by governments in oil rich nations, to invest a proportion of their funds in Africa.

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