Africa’s progress against the MDGs

A growing number of reports on progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are being published in the build up to the UN’s MDG Review Summit in September. The headline that often emerges is that Africa is not on track to meet the targets – but a new report published today has challenged that view.

A number of key reports have found that Africa is not on track to meet the MDGs – the eight goals that world leaders set in 2000 for halving world poverty by 2015. However, a report published today by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the UN Millennium Campaign presents a somewhat different picture. Focusing on goals 1, 4 and 5 on poverty, child mortality and maternal health, it finds that eleven of the 20 countries making the most absolute progress against the MDGs are African and that half of African countries are on track to meet the target of halving poverty by 2015.

The key difference with this report is that it measures progress in absolute terms as opposed to progress relative to the goals – arguing that the former gives a “fuller picture of the reality on the ground”. So, where does the truth lie? Both could be valid and, as ODI and Millennium Campaign acknowledge, both are needed to give the fully story of progress.

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