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Hunger pangs to bite on till 2015 May 5, 2010

Filed under: Economy/Economie — kikenileda @ 8:00 AM

A number of Ugandans are still living in absolute poverty. file pHOTO 

By Martin Luther Oketch  

By 2015, 38 per cent of the Sub-Saharan African population will still be poor, a joint Global Monitor Report 2010 by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund has revealed.

This indicates a short fall in the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) number 1, which targets at halving the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day.
It was explained in the report that Sub-Saharan Africa, where a resurgence of growth helped extreme poverty fall from 58 per cent in 1990 to 51 per cent in 2005, the number of poor people rose from 296 million to 388 million.

“Progress on the individual MDGs was also mixed even before the crisis. For example, the share of children under five who are underweight declined from 33 per cent in developing countries in 1990 to 26 per cent in 2006, a much slower pace than whats needed to halve it by 2015.

Progress has been slowest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with severe to moderate stunting affecting as many as 35 per cent of children under five,” the report reads in part.

MDGs are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include reducing extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as Aids, and developing a global partnership for development.

Uganda remains in balance as recent developments indicate that poverty levels in the country have oscillated from 31 per cent to 37 per cent.

Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ms Syda Bbumba recently cast doubts that Uganda will be able to achieve all the MDGs.

“While progress has been made, it is unlikely that Uganda will be able to achieve all the MDGs,” she said after signing of grant agreements with the Japanese government recently.

Ms Bbumba said the MDGs have been integrated in the planning and budgeting processes for the government to show it’s committed towards their achievement.

Crisis responses 
So far, crisis responses by international financial institutions such as the World Bank Group and IMF have been well aligned with their comparative strengths and capabilities.

While the IMF provided the resources and policy advice to help prevent the crisis from spinning out of control, the World Bank Group and other development banks sought to protect core development programmes, strengthen the private sector and help poor households. More than $150 billion (two-thirds from the World Bank Group) has been committed by multilateral development banks since the beginning of the crisis.

The report indicates that the IMF, meanwhile, had committed about $175 billion for crisis-related support as of the end of February 2010.

The two institutions also points that although aid from countries in the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) rose by 0.7 per cent in real terms in 2009 to $119.6 billion. It still falls well short of earlier commitments, especially for Sub-Saharan Africa.

When debt relief is excluded, Official Development Assistance rose last year by 6.8 per cent in real terms. Meanwhile, assistance from non-DAC donors as well as from private sources is rising fast. And progress continues in reducing poor countries’ debt burden through World Bank and IMF initiatives.

Strong external funding is needed to ensure fiscal sustainability while maintaining key investments in infrastructure and social sectors. Developing countries also need to continue to match external support with domestic reforms to make government spending and service delivery more efficient, the report reveals.

Effects of economic crisis
Globally the report stresses that the global economic crisis lowered the pace of poverty reduction in developing countries and has hampered progress towards the other MDGs.
“The crisis is having an impact in several key areas of the MDGs, including those related to hunger, child and maternal health, gender equality, access to clean water and disease control and will continue to affect long-term development prospects well beyond 2015,” says the Global Monitoring Report 2010: The MDGs after the Crisis.
The multi world watchdog on development explains that as a result of the crisis, 53 million more people will remain in extreme poverty by 2015 than otherwise would have been.

Getting worse
Even so, the report projects that the number of the extreme poor could total to around 920 million five years from now, marking a significant decline from the 1.8 billion people living in extreme poverty in 1990.

Based on these estimates, the developing world as a whole is still on track to achieve the first MDGs of halving extreme income poverty from its 1990 level of 42 per cent by 2015.

“Both the 2008 food price crisis and the financial crisis that hit that year have played a role in exacerbating hunger in the developing world. The critical MDG target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger from 1990 to 2015 appears very unlikely to be met as over a billion people struggle to meet basic food needs,” the report says.

Malnutrition among children and pregnant women has a multiplier effect, accounting for more than one-third of the disease burden of children under age five and over 20 per cent of maternal mortality. According to World Bank projections, for the period from 2009 to the end of 2015, an estimated 1.2 million additional deaths may occur among children under five due to crisis-related causes.


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