By Kamal Tayo Oropo (Guardian Nigeria)
AFRICA has made significant progress in poverty reduction, primary education, women’s empowerment and in its fight against the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).
This was contained in a new report to be released on July 15 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union (AU) and African Development Bank (AfDB).
The report, “Assessing Progress in Africa Towards the Millennium Development Goals 2012”, stated that Africa had made major strides in primary school enrolment, gender parity in primary education, the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments and a marked decline in HIV/AIDS new infection rates.
The report is the eighth in a series initiated in 2005 by ECA, in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and other development partners. It revealed that for the first time since record keeping on poverty began, the number of Africans living under $1.25 per day had declined.
Scheduled for launch during the next session of the African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia next week, the report gauged Africa’s performance against targets agreed by 189 world leaders at the 2000 UN Millennium Summit to “free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected.”
“The poverty rate and the number of poor declined for the first time in Africa. Excluding North Africa, the percentage of Africa’s population living below the poverty line ($1.25 per day) declined from 56.5 to 47.5 percent between 1990 and 2008”, the report stated.
In concrete terms, the number of people considered poor fell from 394.9 million to 386.0 million over the same period, according to the report.
It said that the positive performance was driven in part by strong economic growth over the past decade, although many African countries still have serious challenges to halve poverty or sufficiently address the challenges of job creation, school dropout rates, and high child and maternal mortality rates by the 2015 target date.
Despite the progress, the report warned that Africa would need to do more to meet all the targets agreed in the MDGs document.
For example, it stated that “poverty is on a slow decline in Africa” and that “poverty in Africa is concentrated in rural areas and affects men and women differently.”
Source: The Guardian Nigeria.