extreme poverty rates falling

The first Millennium Development Goal is to half between 1990 and 2015 the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.00 a day. This MDG target has already been met, but there is still 1.2 billion of our family living in extreme poverty.

Extreme poverty rates continue to fall in every developing region of the world. China leads the way with the extreme poverty rates there dropping from 60 per cent in 1990 to 16 per cent in 2005 and down to 12 per cent in 2010.

Poverty remains widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, although real progress can be seen in Southeast Asia. The drop in extreme poverty rates in Southern Asia has fallen by an average of a percentage point every year. The extreme poverty rate was 51 per cent in 1990. Now, 20 years later it has dropped to 30 per cent.

The extreme poverty rates in sub-Saharan Africa by contrast has fallen only 8 percentage points during the past two decades. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world that had a steady rise in the number of people living in extreme poverty. In 1990 the number of people in sub-Saharan Africa living in extreme poverty was 290 million. In 2010 that number had increased to 414 million. This number accounts for more than a third of all the destitute people in the world.

Abject poverty is found in areas where poor health and the lack of education keep people from productive work. These are areas where there is bad governance, corruption and depleted natural resources. Conflict and corruption discourage private investment.

We can continue reducing the proportion of our family living in extreme poverty. But for this to happen the international community must take the next steps in combating poverty at every level.