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Millennium Development Goals? Asian nations fail

April 09, 2008 10:34 IST
Most south Asian nations will fall short on the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight globally agreed development goals due to be achieved by 2015, a study by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said.

"Though much of the world, including south Asia, is set to cut extreme poverty in half by then, prospects are gravest for the goals of reducing child and maternal mortality, with serious shortfalls also likely in primary school completion, nutrition, and sanitation goals," the Bank said in a statement.

"In this 'Year of Action on the MDGs', I am particularly concerned about the risks of failing to meet the goal of reducing hunger and malnutrition, the 'forgotten MDG'," said Robert B Zoellick, president of the World Bank.

As the report shows, reducing malnutrition has a 'multiplier' effect, contributing to success in other MDGs including maternal health, infant mortality, and education, he added.

The 'Global Monitoring Report: MDGs and the Environment -- Agenda for Inclusive and Sustainable Development' has stressed on the link between environment and development, and calls for urgent action on climate change.

The report has warned that developing countries stand to suffer the most from climate change and the degradation of natural resources.

"Arguably, few regions in the world are more at risk from climate change in terms of adverse impact on the poor than south Asia and the region faces a large potential health risk from climate change through increased malnutrition, diarrhea, and malaria. 

To build on hard-won gains, developing countries need support to address the links between growth, development and environmental sustainability," the Bank statement said.

While most of the poverty reduction, between 1990 and 2004, took place in East Asia and Pacific, south Asia would contribute the most to global poverty reduction in the next decade, the report points.

Given south Asia's recent, rapid economic growth, the lack of progress in reducing child malnutrition is all the more troubling.

"It points to the need for a concerted effort to attack the problem at its rootsincluding better water, sanitation, pre-natal care for pregnant women, and nutrition and healthcare for newborns," said Shanta Devarajan, chief economist of the Bank's south Asia Region.

The report has made the argument that with stronger efforts by the countries themselves and their development partners, most MDGs remain achievable for most countries going on to put out a six point integrated agenda that has strong, inclusive growth at the top.

"The agenda also calls for more effective aid; a successful outcome to the Doha round of trade talks; more emphasis on strengthening programmes in health, education and nutrition; and financing and technology transfers to support climate change mitigation and  adaptation," the Bank has said.

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington