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Missed Poverty Goals Result in the Deaths of 15 Million

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24 June 2002

Missed poverty goals have cost 15 million children's lives, says ActionAid

In a "half-term" report published today (24 June), ActionAid warns that the world is seriously behind schedule with the "poverty goals" set by world leaders for the year 2015. The charity calls for a massive increase in the quantity and quality of aid from the rich nations of the Group of Eight, whose leaders meet in Canada on 26-27 June.

ActionAid has calculated that had the Millennium Development Goals been on track from the baseline year of 1990 to today, 15 million more children in Africa and South Asia would have lived to see their fifth birthday. If current trends continue to 2015, this figure will rise to 66 million.

There have been some successes at a global level, including significant cuts in child malnutrition, rising primary school enrolment, especially for girls, and improvements in conditions for women giving birth. But there are enormous regional variations, and overall the outlook, if present trends continue, is bleak:

Infant and child mortality rates are increasing in Africa

There will still be 140 million underweight children in 2020

75 million children will still be out of school in 2015

200 million people will develop TB and 35 million people will die by 2020

Average life expectancy for all Africans has fallen by 15 years as a direct result of HIV/AIDS within the past two decades

Today almost 12 million children under the age of five still die each year, mostly from preventable diseases, compared with about 11 million in 1990.

The recent UN-commissioned report by ex-President Zedillo of Mexico estimated that an additional $50 billion per year is needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals worldwide. The World Bank puts the bill at around $40-60 billion per year for the poverty goal alone.

ActionAid is calling on the G8 nations to:

double aid within three years

open their markets to trade from low-income countries

commit an extra $4 billion a year towards basic education for all

double support to the global fund for fighting HIV/AIDS and the diseases of poverty

Matthew Lockwood, head of ActionAid's UK Advocacy Team and co-author of the report Halfway There? The G8 and the Millennium Development Goals, said:

"Missed poverty goals have already cost 15 million children's lives. ActionAid's half-term report shows that G8 countries are making nowhere near enough effort. Unless they radically change their approach - by reversing cuts in aid spending and by challenging the scandalously unfair trade rules that face the poorest countries - 2015 will come and go and 66 million children will have died needlessly because of poverty."

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