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UN foresees poverty drop

world Updated: Sep 22, 2010 01:24 IST

A decade ago, world leaders at the United Nations signed off on eight goals aimed at transforming the lives of the world’s least fortunate — including cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015.

This week, as nations gather to assess the goals, UN countered skeptics saying: The world is actually on track to halve the percentage of people on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Even with the brutal global recession, the ranks of the world’s desperately poor are likely to shrink to 15 per cent of the population by 2015, less than half of the original 42 per cent, said a recent UN report. The World Bank said the objective appears “within reach.”

Several of the original eight goals will probably not be met, including slashing the maternal and child mortality rate worldwide. Moreover, the progress on poverty comes with caveats: The absolute number of poor will shrink less than the percentage figure, because of population growth.

Still, development experts say that there are numerous underreported success stories in other countries, even in Africa. While the economic growth drove the reductions in poverty, ambitious UN goals prompted a greater flow of international aid, and got some poor countries to adopt better policies, experts say.

“What is not often understood is how many countries there are that have been making real progress,” said Mark Suzman, of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For example, he said, nine African nations have already succeeded in halving their rate of extreme poverty since 1990.

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