Global downturn fuelled poverty, hunger: UN report

June 23rd, 2010 - 6:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The global economic downturn in 2009 has increased poverty and hunger, according to a UN report released here Wednesday.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report 2010 found that worst affected are the South Asian countries, including India, and sub-Saharan African countries and they really need to focus in order to meet the MDGs by 2015.

The report said that effects of the crisis are likely to persist as poverty rates will be slightly higher in 2015 and even beyond, to 2020, than they would have been had the world economy grown steadily at its pre-crisis pace.

The newly-updated estimates from the World Bank suggest that the economic crisis will leave an additional 50 million people in extreme poverty in 2009 and some 64 million by the end of 2010, principally in sub-Saharan Africa and eastern and southeast Asia.

“Employment ratio has fallen alarmingly in south Asian countries following global crisis and it has not recovered yet. There has been biggest increase in working poor and more and more people are involved in vulnerable employment,” said Jayati Ghosh, economist, while reading out salient features of the report.

The MDG report finds that India is expected to reduce its poverty rate from 51 percent in 1990 to 24 percent in 2015 - slashing its number of extremely poor by 188 million. The percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day in East Asia dropped from 60 percent in 1990 to just 16 percent in 2005, and from 39 to 19 percent in southeast Asia.

On the maternal and child mortality rate, the report said that the number of deaths among children under the age of five has dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to an estimated 8.8 million in 2008, corresponding to a decline in the mortality rate from 100 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 72 in 2008.

However, the report said the progress is falling short of the MDG target for a two-thirds reduction in child mortality rates between 1990 and 2015. The progress on checking maternal mortality rate is also not up to the mark and the rate of reduction is still well short of the 5.5 percent annual reduction needed to meet the target by 2015.

“Under-five mortality also remains very high in South Asia, where one in 14 children died before age of five in 2008 and where progress is too slow to meet the 2015 target,” said Ghosh.

About the action against killer diseases, the report said the spread of HIV appears to have stabilised in most regions. AIDS related mortality peaked in 2004, with 2.2 million deaths, which has dropped to 2 million in 2008.

However, the report raised concern about increasing cases of malaria. Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. There were about 243 million malaria cases reported in 2008 and nearly 863,000 died of the mosquito-borne disease.

“The report is a red alert for us and the central government should take necessary policy decision to meet the MDGs,” said Brinda Karat, leader of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Karat said the most disturbing issue is the food insecurity and increasing poverty due to global downturn and the government should enact a food security legislation in order to meet the goal of poverty eradication.

“Various indicators of the report show that India is not on track as far as efforts to meet the MDGs are concerned although progress has been made in several sectors. However, the UN is confident that most of the targets can be met by 2015,” said Karin Hulshof, UN representative.

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