A Sustainable Solution to Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
According to the recently released United Nations report on the Millennium Development Goals, progress made toward ending hunger and abject poverty may be derailed. Higher prices for food and oil and the global economic slowdown are driving many people deeper into poverty. The Hunger Project's approach builds self-reliant communities at the grassroots level so they have greater resilience and capacity to meet these challenges and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Assessing Progress toward the Millennium Development Goals
The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development objectives that address the multiple facets of extreme poverty. They represent a blueprint agreed to by 191 of the world's countries. Now, in 2008, we are beyond the half-way point between when the MDGs were adopted, in 2000, and when the targets are supposed to be met, in 2015.
The Millennium Development Goals Report 2008 is the most current global assessment on progress towards the MDGs, and it contains some cause for optimism:
- Primary school enrollment has reached 90 percent in all but two regions of the world.
- More than one and a half billion people have gained access to clean drinking water since 1990.
- The number of people living in absolute poverty fell from 1.8 to 1.4 billion between 1990 and 2005.
However, the report also states that this progressive trend is likely to be undone. Higher prices for food and oil, and the global economic slowdown, are driving many people deeper into poverty. Some estimates predict that the number of people living in extreme poverty could increase by 100 million. South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, regions which already suffer the highest rates of poverty, have suffered severe setbacks.
The 2008 report calls for developed countries to increase their financial commitments if the MDGs are to be achieved. Although funding is always necessary, The Hunger Project believes the exclusive focus on increasing funding is insufficient.
The Hunger Project and the MDGs
The best way to get back on track is to focus existing global resources on building capacity of people in the developing world to be the agents of their own development.
International resources should be allocated at the point of highest leverage: the communities living in conditions of hunger and poverty. When communities have the skills, methods and knowledge to take action in areas of health, food security, education, family income and local government, they are able to meet their own basic needs and build better futures for their children. Moreover, they are more resilient and able to withstand economic and environmental challenges.
At the heart of The Hunger Project's approach are three pillars:
- Mobilizing people at the grassroots level to build self-reliance
- Empowering women as key change agents
- Forging partnerships with local government
Addressing these elements is critical for The Hunger Project's mission of ending hunger on a sustainable basis. It is also critical to meeting the MDGs. The UN report cites a spate of roadblocks, including not enough girls in school, high maternal mortality rates, lack of sanitation, and childhood malnourishment. Hunger Project partners throughout the world are taking self-reliant actions to overcome each of these challenges.