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MAIN PLAYERS:
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef); World Health Organisation; Economic and Social Council; World Food Programme; International Labour Organisation; Food and Agriculture Organisation.
COST:
More than $10bn a year
POVERTY
Overview Mechanisms The record
 
Secretary-General Kofi Anan has said tackling world poverty is one of the priorities for the UN this century. He asked world leaders to commit themselves to halving the number of people living in abject poverty by the year 2015. More than a billion people are living on less than one dollar a day.

POVERTY
OverviewMechanismsThe record
 
Dozen of UN agencies and programmes work towards the elimination of poverty in different ways - whether it be economic development, humanitarian relief, health care or training and education. The UNDP is the main body for co-ordinating development work and responding to emergencies. While not officially part of the UN, the World Bank and the IMF are the major players in global finances and development, working in cooperation with the UN. The World Bank has loaned $333bn for development projects since 1946.
POVERTY
OverviewMechanismsThe record
 
The UNDP spends about $2bn a year, designing and implementing projects for agriculture, industry, education, and the environment. Unicef spends an additional $800m a year, primarily on immunisation, health care, nutrition and basic education in 138 countries. But although many lives have undoubtedly been saved by UN programmes, the financial bodies dedicated to tackling poverty have come under virulent attack. The World Bank and the IMF, in particular, have been targeted by anti-globalisation protesters, who charge the organisations with increasing inequality.
A sixth of the world's population receive nearly 80% of world income, while 57% of the world's population receive only 6% of world income. While the poverty rate is falling in some countries such as China, in many others, especially in Africa, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty is rising.
The United Nations has supported a debt relief programme for the poorest countries, in which the G8 agreed to write off $100bn of debts in return for promises that the funds would be used to reduce poverty. But so far only one country has had its debts cancelled.