Many countries are reaping the benefits of globalization and are on track for achieving at least some of the Goals by the appointed deadline of 2015. Between 1981 and 2001, according to World Bank estimates, the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped from 1.5 billion to 1.1 billion. And as a proportion of people in the developing world, extreme poverty fell from 40 percent to 21 percent of the population. Many regions, especially large parts of East Asia and South Asia, experienced dramatic economic and social progress.
Moreover, between 1990 and 2001, under-five mortality rates fell from 103 deaths per 1,000 live births a year to 88. Life expectancy rose from 63 years to nearly 65 years. An additional 8 percent of the developing world's people received access to water. And 15 percent acquired access to improved sanitation services for the first time.
But progress on the Goals has been far from uniform. There are huge disparities among and within countries. Some countries are on track to meet most, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals and many will reach at least some of the Goals. However, sub-Saharan Africa is stuck in a poverty trap of crisis proportions, with a continuing rise in extreme poverty and stunningly high child and maternal mortality rates. Asia is the region with the fastest progress, but even there hundreds of millions of people remain in extreme poverty. Other regions have mixed records: in Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe there has been slow or no progress on some of the Goals, and persistent inequalities are undermining progress on others.
There are also significant variations in progress towards each of the Goals:
- The number and proportion of undernourished children are rising in many countries in sub- Saharan Africa, while falling elsewhere.
- In primary education progress is being made in most regions, but sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are still significantly off track.
- Gender equality remains an unfulfilled goal, and the education parity target for 2005 will be missed in many countries, especially in sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia.
- Child mortality rates have generally declined, but progress has slowed in many parts of the world, and reversals are being recorded in sub-Saharan Africa. Progress has also been limited in East Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Oceania, and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
- Maternal mortality remains unacceptably high in every developing region, reflecting low public attention to women's needs and inadequate access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including emergency obstetric care.
- HIV/AIDS now infects about 40 million people. It is pandemic in southern sub-Saharan Africa, and it poses a serious threat, particularly to women and adolescents, in every other developing region.
- The world is not on track to meet the sanitation goal. Progress has been too slow in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and much of the rest of Asia.