It’s often been said that the global economic crisis has hit the developing world the hardest. I’ve always taken that to be sort of a given, but the new 2009 Millennium Development Goals report, just released, is one of the first documents I’ve seen to actually quantify the toll that the current economic downturn has taken on the world’s poor.
The report shows that significant gains had been made since the 2000 Millennium Declaration to reduce the number of people around the world living in abject poverty. Over the course of the last year, however, progress made over the last decade has slowed–and even reversed.
Major advances in the fight against extreme poverty from 1990 to 2005, for example, are likely to have stalled. During that period, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day decreased from 1.8 billion to 1.4 billion. In 2009, an estimated 55 million to 90 million more people will be living in extreme poverty than anticipated before the crisis.
Likewise, the encouraging trend in the eradication of hunger since the early 1990s was reversed in 2008, largely due to higher food prices. The prevalence of hunger in the developing regions is now on the rise, from 16 per cent in 2006 to 17 per cent in 2008. A decrease in international food prices in the second half of 2008 has failed to translate into more affordable food for most people around the world.
One of the MDGs is to halt the spread of AIDS and increase access to treatment. A second report out today, by UNAIDS and the World Bank, shows how the economic crisis is threatening the global fight against AIDS. Here is UN Spokesperson Michelle Montas describing the report’s findings.
Finally, in related news, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and TB is facing a $3 billion shortfall this year. Hard times, indeed.